B.C. approves 314 cutblocks in caribou critical habitat while negotiating conservation plans
Thursday, March 14, 2019 Charlotte Dawe
VANCOUVER - B.C. has greenlighted the logging of 314 new cutblocks in the critical habitat of southern mountain caribou across the province in the past four months alone.
The shocking discovery made by the Wilderness Committee is prompting the organization, along with Greenpeace Canada, to call on Catherine McKenna, federal minister of environment and climate change, to issue an emergency order to halt logging of southern mountain caribou critical habitat while negotiations for conservation plans are underway.
“If the province logs what little is left of caribou critical habitat then all this planning will be for nothing,” said Charlotte Dawe, conservation and policy campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. “We need the federal government to step in and protect habitat before it’s all gone.”
Four months ago, negotiations were well underway between the federal and provincial governments and First Nations to create an effective caribou conservation plan. But while in negotiations the B.C. government continued approving cutblocks in critical habitat.
“It’s as if B.C. is holding a clear out sale for logging companies to ‘get it while you can!’ It’s the great caribou con from our very own B.C. government,” said Dawe.
“On the one hand B.C. says it’s protecting caribou while on the other, they’re handing out permits to log habitat as fast as they can. How much more evidence does the federal government need to prove that B.C. is failing to protect caribou?”
McKenna, announced last summer that southern mountain caribou are facing imminent threats to their recovery noting, “immediate intervention is required to allow for eventual recovery.” The announcement came after the functional extinction of two caribou herds in B.C.
The evidence is piling up against the B.C. government’s claim that they are effectively protecting caribou throughout the province.
“If the B.C. government was serious about protecting and recovering caribou throughout the province then they should have rejected these cutblocks,” said Eduardo Sousa, Senior Campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “Instead, by approving these blocks, they are negotiating conservation agreements in some of these very same areas in bad faith. It’s appalling and we can’t trust them now.”
Almost a year ago the Wilderness Committee revealed 83 cutblocks were approved in the critical habitat of B.C.’s eight most at-risk herds. Logging rates have increased since the finding; in the past four months, 134 new cutblocks have been approved in the same critical habitats.
There are two southern mountain caribou local populations where logging approvals are the highest in core critical habitat — the Telkwa and Chilcotin populations. Both have 13 cutblocks each set to be logged.
For more information, please contact:
Charlotte Dawe Conservation and Policy Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
Eduardo Sousa Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada