Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Ancient trees outside of Port Renfrew, B.C., on March 12, 2021.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Globe and Mail

British Columbia’s forest industry should use this time of surging lumber prices and hungry markets to prepare for tough changes ahead, B.C. Premier John Horgan told corporate leaders on Thursday.

The Premier avoided any direct reference to the growing conflict over old-growth logging practices, even as protestors prepare to be arrested at a string of blockades in Mr. Horgan’s riding.

“There’s an understanding at corporate boardrooms and community halls, in union halls right across British Columbia, that the forestry of tomorrow will not be the forestry of the past,” Mr. Horgan told the Council of Forest Industries virtual conference.

Story continues below advertisement

“Our policies need to be modernized, and that’s what we intend to do,” he said. He offered no timeline for that transition, but pointed to the need to invest in higher-value manufacturing rather than “chasing every stick to get it out as quickly as we can.”

Forestry is currently one of the bright spots in the B.C. economy, and Mr. Horgan’s government will be banking on the sector to help fuel a pandemic recovery. At the same time, his government has promised sweeping changes to the way it manages its increasingly rare old-growth forests.

Jeff Zweig, president and chief executive of Mosaic Forest Management, said the industry is already strictly regulated and urged the provincial government to consider the economic impact of any significant changes.

“There aren’t many jurisdictions in the world that have as much parkland as B.C., or are as tightly regulated,” he told the conference. “It’s important that we be very considered and measured before we make major changes to the way in which we manage the working forest.”

The province has built a reputation for sustainable forestry based on strong environmental management. The Great Bear Rainforest agreement in 2016 helped end consumer boycotts with its promise to protect a vast stretch of the central coast. But international buyers are now expressing concern that old-growth logging continues while the final details of that agreement remain unresolved.

While Mr. Hogan addressed forest industry executives, protestors who have blockaded logging roads in a valley in the Premier’s Vancouver Island riding since last August were preparing for mass arrests.

On April 1, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven granted the logging company Teal-Jones Group an injunction to remove blockades in Tree Farm License 46, which includes rare intact stands of Western red cedar and yellow cedar – trees that are up to 800 years old.

Story continues below advertisement

The blockades are organized by a group calling itself the Rainforest Flying Squad. Saul Arbess, a spokesperson for the group, said Thursday there are more than 100 protestors assembled at five different sites in the area who are preventing logging operations.

“The protests will continue and people are willing to be arrested,” he said. “We are bitterly disappointed that the Premier made no commitment today to speed up this transition.”

British Columbia is home to 57 million hectares of forests, but ancient temperate rain forests are rare. A recent study found that those highly productive intact ecosystems make up less than 1 per cent of B.C.’s remaining forests.

In his judgment, Justice Verhoeven concluded the protestors’ actions, which have effectively blocked Teal Jones’ logging operations since last summer, were clearly unlawful. He said their dispute is one that needs to be resolved by the provincial government, rather than the courts.

“There is no doubt that climate change is real, and poses a grave threat to humanity’s future,” he wrote. But, he noted, the effect of old-growth forest logging on climate change and biodiversity cannot be resolved at a hearing on an injunction application.

“The problem is, all of the concerns raised by the respondents are for the government to address, and not this Court. Forestry decisions are highly policy-driven and require the government to co-ordinate, balance and reconcile often competing values and interests.

Story continues below advertisement

“The protesters’ real complaint is with the government’s policy choices.”

Mr. Arbess said the numbers of protestors joining the blockades at Fairy Creek and in the Caycuse watershed, southwest of Cowichan Lake, are growing, and called on the government to diffuse the situation by deferring any old-growth logging in the region.

“We’re not opposed to logging, but it is well past time to transition to second-growth for timber.”

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies