Interior Logging Association adds its voice to opposition to old-growth deferrals

ILA opposes deferrals

The Vernon-based Interior Logging Association says it is "disappointed" with last week's announcement by the provincial government of a deferral of logging in old-growth B.C. forests.

In a press release issued Monday, general manager Todd Chamberlain says the ILA's board of directors wants to be included in the decision-making process.

"The ILA represents both First Nations and non-First Nations contractors and communities across British Columbia, all of which will be adversely affected by this decision," the association says.

"We respectfully request that the Province of British Columbia take a balanced approach to an old-growth strategy and include the ILA, who represent the many women and men who work in the forest industry, support our communities, and are committed to the protection and sustainable stewardship of our resources.

"By engaging with us to find a balanced approach you are showing these people their voices matter in this discussion."

The ILA says the loss of any jobs is unacceptable.

"Without a proper socio-economic study to fully understand the effects of such a drastic shift in forest policy, the B.C. government will be making policy decisions that are not balanced or fair to all British Columbians," it says.

The ILA is seeking a halt to what it calls an "unbalanced approach to forest policy," and wants inclusion of "those of us who are committed to our industry’s future, community preservation, and our sustainable forests."

The province announced Nov. 2 it will defer logging on 2.6 million hectares of unprotected Crown forests.

But, the Council of Forest Industries says more than 75% of B.C.'s 11.4 million hectares of old forests are already protected or are outside the timber harvesting land base.

When making the announcement, the government said it expects 4,500 direct forestry jobs could be lost, while COFI says that number will be more like 18,000 jobs, and 14 to 20 sawmills will be lost.

The First Nations Forestry Council said it was just as surprised by the plan as industry, calling the whole premise "fundamentally flawed."

"The identification of old growth deferral areas is an initiative that should be led by (First) Nations, not an exclusionary panel telling Nations what they see as ecologically important areas – based on information and criteria they chose to use," said Matt Wealick, an Indigenous registered professional forester.

"This is not just about protecting old growth; this is a land use planning decision that will impact the ability of Nations to make decisions about the use of forest lands and resources in their territories for decades."

– with files from Colin Dacre

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