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British Columbia unveils biodiversity plan

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Nov19,2023

British Columbia unveils plan for biodiversity

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The framework for biodiversity and ecosystem health is due to be finalized early next year. Until then, the province is inviting the public to give their opinion. (Archive photo)

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The British Columbia government has released an outline of a framework that, once finalized, should provide guidance to deliver on its 2021 promises to safeguard biodiversity.

The framework for biodiversity and ecosystem health is linked to a provincially mandated report in 2020 regarding old-growth forest management.

This called for a radical change in the way the province exploits forests containing old trees, vectors of biodiversity. Fourteen areas emerged from this report and the framework, published on Wednesday, fits into one of them.

The government has indeed committed in 2021 to implementing the 14 recommendations. They must allow a more global approach to the management of land and water resources, in order to guarantee their health and solidity for future generations, specifies the province.

They must also give more space to First Nations in the management of old-growth forests.

The work we are doing with First Nations to develop a framework for biodiversity and ecosystems is focused on listening and learning from environmental stewards for generations, said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, in a press release.

Several nature protection groups, including the Wilderness Committee, the The Ancient Forest Alliance and the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance welcomed the framework, saying that if done right, it could close gaps in British Columbia's environmental laws.

However, these groups had been critical a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, none of the 14 commitments came to fruition and that is deeply disappointing, lamented Torrance Coste, national campaign director for Wilderness Committee.

Published in 2020, the 14 recommendations should have been implemented within the next three years.

This fall, however, the province made some progress, including launching a $300 million conservation funding facility to protect land. A $1 billion nature deal was also reached between Ottawa, British Columbia and First Nations.

Historically, the British Columbia government has not protected forests in valleys, says Ken Wu, director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance, who says things could change with the framework released Wednesday.

If the framework is well connected with the $1 billion fund announced this fall, it will be a revolution for the biodiversity. There is an urgent need to move forward as most old-growth forests have been cut down. However, they are vital for endangered species, tourism and even indigenous culture.

A quote from Ken Wu, Director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance

Gregory Paradis, forest engineer, assistant professor of forest management at the University of British Columbia, also thinks that the government's ideas are promising: We are committed to fundamentally changing the way we manage our forests so that the health of our ecosystems and biodiversity are now the priority, to the detriment, for example, of the supply of wood.

Gregory Paradis nevertheless remains cautious, believing having failed to identify concrete actions emanating from this framework.

The province will now consult with First Nations, the forestry industry and other stakeholders on the project in order to complete the final version in early 2024.

The public can send comments on the draft framework to the province at: biodiversity.ecosystemhealth@gov.bc.ca (New window).

With information from Chad Pawson

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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