Skip to content

B.C. creates $300 million fund for First Nations-led forest conservation

Environmentalists applaud, say more needs to be done to to protect old-growth
A fund of up $300 million announced by the provincial government Thursday (Oct. 26) promises to protect old-growth forest in B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Environmentalists are applauding a new fund of up to $300 million to help preserve old-growth trees in British Columbia, but are lamenting the absence of details and immediate action to protect old growth forest.

Premier David Eby Thursday (Oct. 26) announced the province would put $150 million toward a new fund called the Conservation Financing Mechanism with a matching $150 million coming from the BC Parks Foundation.

Torrance Coste, national director with the Wilderness Committee, welcomed the funding.

“$300 million is a solid starting place to enable environmental protection in line with what scientists tell us is needed to tackle the biodiversity crisis here in B.C.,” Coste said, adding that the funding represents what he called a “missing ingredient” in provincial efforts to preserve old growth forest.

“(But) one ingredient doesn’t make a cake,” he said, adding that logging of old-growth forest has continued.

“All the money in the world won’t bring back forests and other ecosystems destroyed while funding mechanisms and planning processes are set up,” Coste added. “Now that this money is on the table to enable a meaningful increase in protected areas, the BC NDP needs to step up and stop the ‘Talk and Log’ that undermines its conservation goals.”

Resource Stewardship Minister Nathan Cullen said a special majority First Nations committee under the leadership of the foundation will now establish the parameters of the fund, its distribution and its uses.

RELATED: 1 down, 168 to go: Environmentalists call for province to protect 30% of land by 2030

RELATED: ‘We owe it to our children’: 75,000 hectares of old growth forest conserved east of Revelstoke

RELATED: Poor data hinders B.C. old-growth logging deferrals, advocates say

READ ALSO: Old growth trees still falling despite B.C. promises: environmentalists

RELATED: Satellite imagery tracks logging of B.C. old-growth forests

“We as government have given some provision, some direction,” he said, adding that fund is “contemplating” the direct purchase of old-forest.

“We have other supported mechanisms within government to establish what are sometime called Indigenous Protected and Preserved Areas. But it is really important to begin and end the conversation with the rights and title holders (First Nations),” he said. “This fund, established with our partnerships, is for Indigenous-led conservation.”

Coste praised government for working with First Nations, but questioned the absence of details about targets and the types of ecosystems the government wants to protect. He said that means the fund does not guarantee money will be used to conserve at-risk old-growth forests.

Wilderness Committee also accused the province of not sharing details about existing old-growth deferrals and plans to remove areas from resource tenures on a fast enough timeline.

BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau praised the fund, while promising to review its details.

“We’ve been calling for this since 2020,” she said. “We applaud the government for making this announcement and making this investment, which will essentially be the requirement to move us from an extraction-based, boom-and-bust economy in B.C.,” she said. “(It) really benefits nobody. It’s not healthy for communities and it’s not long-term healthy for our economy.”

Logging deferrals are short-term protection measures that safeguard old-growth forests until long-term land-use plans emerge. Since 2021, discussions between the province, industry and First Nations have led to deferrals on about 2.4 million hectares of old growth, including 1.23 million hectares of the most at-risk old growth. Another 3.8 million of old growth are permanently protected.

About 20 per cent of B.C.’s forests and about 12 per cent of the entire province — some 11.1 million hectares — meet the definition of old growth. Depending on forest type, coastal trees must older than 250 years and Interior trees must be older than 140 years.

B.C. has set itself the goal of protecting 30 per cent of its land area by 2030. Currently, 20 per cent — about 18.5 million hectares — are protected, according to government.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
Read more