Implementation of old growth recommendations underway

Publishing Date

On February 6 & 7 UBCM attended the Multi-Sectoral Old Growth Forum to learn about work underway by the Province of B.C., in partnership with First Nations, to implement the 14 recommendations identified in the Old Growth Strategic Review (OGSR), which will include the co-development of a Declaration on Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity by April 2023.
With the acceptance of all 14 OGSR recommendations, the Province has adopted a new, holistic approach to protect old growth forests that will result in the creation of the Declaration as well as an action plan. Both documents are to be co-developed by the Province and First Nations, with input from a variety of interests including local governments. 
The purpose of the two-day Forum was to share work to date, inform multiple sectors about the way forward, and through presentations and breakout sessions, seek feedback on a variety of issues recognizing community transition and support will be required (OGSR Rec #13 and #14). Characterized by forum leaders as a “paradigm shift”, the action plan and Declaration will result in a new approach to the management of not only old growth but the overall management of forests, water and lands in BC.
With only 4 representatives from local government participating, there was limited opportunity to provide local government input at the two-day Forum that was attended by some 200 participants.  Many local governments have since expressed concern about not being part of the Forum and have reached out to UBCM seeking additional information about the process and next steps.
UBCM was advised that co-development of a Declaration is expected by the end of April 2023, work will then focus on the development or update of legislation or enabling tools to implement the Declaration from Spring 2023 onward. Recognizing the significant impact that this new approach will have on BC local governments, specifically resource-dependent communities, UBCM Forum attendees encouraged the Province to follow up and directly engage with BC local governments. UBCM emphasized that the Province needs to hear from local government leaders on the approach, how it will affect their communities and its overall impact on land and resource management in their region. 
UBCM attendees indicated that our members expect to be consulted and engaged on matters that will impact land and resource management, recognizing that local governments are defined as orders of governments in the Community Charter and that the Province has committed to consulting with local governments on areas of interest as defined through our MOU with the Province on Engagement with UBCM and Local Governments on First Nations Negotiations and Other Indigenous Initiatives.
Provincial officials advised that plans are underway for further regional sessions and that information would follow in the coming weeks. UBCM will keep members apprised as further information becomes available.