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Liberal MP’s motion hailed as a ‘major leap forward’ for old-growth forest protection

MP Patrick Weiler’s motion calls for matching funding from the province
Conservation groups are applauding a motion by federal MP Patrick Weiler to protect old-growth forests. (Contributed photo)

Environmental groups are hailing a motion put forth by Liberal MP Patrick Weiler as a significant step toward protecting old-growth forests.

Weiler, federal MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, introduced a motion in Parliament on Thursday that calls on the federal government to increase the B.C. Old-Growth Protection Fund to $82 million from $50 million.

That would create a way to end the international export of old-growth raw logs and wood products from across Canada as quickly as possible, with a target date of no later than 2030.

The motion is contingent on the provincial government matching the funding, bringing the total funding to $164 million.

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TJ Watt, a campaigner with the Ancient Forest Alliance, said that the organization and the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance welcome Weiler’s motion to protect old-growth forests in B.C. and across Canada.

“It’s no small sum,” he said. “It would result in a major leap forward to protect old-growth forests here and across Canada.”

Along with a much larger federal-provincial B.C. Nature Agreement fund, Watt said, it could enable a rapid phase-out of old-growth wood exports.

Watt said what’s unique about the funding in the motion is that it aims to specifically help First Nations by supporting the funding of new Indigenous protected areas and fostering sustainable economic development in those areas, which include some of the most endangered old growth along the coast and inland.

“We commend Weiler for taking the initiative to help keep the ball rolling for old-growth protection. The federal government continues to step up to the plate. It’s time for the provincial government to do the same.”

Although Watt said the provincial government has committed to new conservation funding by June, it hasn’t put any funding forward.

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He added that funding is needed to protect First Nations logging interests through deferrals that offset lost revenues.

“There is no way forward to protect these forests without major conservation funding,” Watt said. “We need to emulate the successes in the Great Bear Rain Forest, where areas have been protected and jobs created.”

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About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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