BC First Nations Forestry Council Statement on Proposed Old Growth Deferrals
Maps prepared by the Technical Advisory Panel identify old growth deferral areas throughout the province will impact all BC First Nations, not just some.
First Nations have been given thirty days to review and respond to the proposed old growth deferrals within their territories. Nations are being brought into this process after-the-fact, and now the Province is asking Nations to hurry up and respond. Although some Nations may have the resources, capacity and government-to-government (G2G) tables that support joint decision-making and may be ready to move quickly, many Nations don’t and will not be ready to make those decisions.
Thirty days to respond is trying to rush Nations into making decisions that once again in no way supports an informed and meaningful consultation process.
Nations need the time and resources to work with their communities to review the information and develop their own integrated resource management plans to make decisions regarding the use of forests, lands, and resources based on their Indigenous values, principles, and stewardship objectives; not those imposed by the BC Government or others.
The commitment by the Province to work in partnership with First Nations must be real and transparent. The Forestry Council can play a role in supporting the Province by providing opportunities for meaningful and informed engagement for all Nations, not just some. Nations require support and the Forestry Council can, and should, be part of that support.
The Forestry Council has a role to play in helping the Province get this right in ways that reflect meaningful and informed involvement with all BC First Nations, in the development of a new vision and sustainable approach to managing BC’s old growth forests that recognizes Indigenous jurisdiction.
Done in the right way, this will result in a better solution and a way forward for all.