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A defaced road sign of a logging truck is seen near the protest site of Fairy Creek on southern Vancouver Island on Oct. 4, 2021.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

Both sides on the issue of old-growth logging in British Columbia are so polarized they “can’t see the forest for the trees,” Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said Thursday.

Conroy told those attending the BC Council of Forest Industries conference that, though old-growth logging has garnered passionate public debate, she believes the views of most residents fall somewhere in the middle of the extremes.

“I think most of us in the province are somewhere in the middle of that topic, and thank goodness for that because government has been very clear on this issue,” she said.

Conroy said the province is implementing a strategic review of B.C.’s old-growth forest management and is working with First Nations and other partners to develop a new long-term strategy that “prioritizes ecosystem health and community prosperity.”

She also told the crowd that low-carbon forest products are critical in the global fight against climate change.

“The fact is that B.C.’s forests are a renewable resource when managed sustainably,” she said. “One cubic metre of wood can store around one tonne of carbon dioxide and choosing products like mass timber for building construction can reduce emissions by as much as 45 per cent compared to concrete and steel.”

This comes as the government announced it’s spending $19 million over three years to increase the carbon stored in B.C. forests.

The Forests Ministry said in a news release that $15 million of the funds will be used to fertilize about 8,500 hectares of forests to increase growth rates and extend the life of trees so they can store carbon.

Conroy said the plan will lead to a reduction of 3.7 million tonnes of emissions by 2030.

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