Just 10 per cent of old-growth was left at last count in 2009. By now, Fairy Creek forests are likely closer to the provincial average of three per cent remaining old-growth. This falls far outside the modern definition of sustainable forestry.
But if your business is logging old-growth, pointing out that logging in Fairy Creek meets Canada’s definition of “certified sustainable” is good for the bottom line. And that’s the point.
In the wake of the Clayoquot Sound protests, Canada’s forestry industry needed a serious rebrand. “Certification” was seen as a way to help Canada market itself as a world leader in sustainable forestry, and the CSA was a ready partner.
It worked. Post-Clayoquot, Canadian governments and the forest industry went on a charm offensive and — backed by “certification” — restored Canada’s reputation and markets.
It did not matter that the certification contained no hard and fast rules requiring sustainability. The B.C. government went one step further, entrenching industry standard-setting and self-regulation in its forestry laws. In these laws, the government also moved to expressly limit factors like wildlife habitat protection that might slow the rate of logging.
That’s a key reason why the last time government biologists looked, they could find only two old-growth-dependent spotted owls in the wild.
It’s also why B.C.’s forest industry is declining. Years of overcut have led to what the government calls a “fall down” — a necessary reduction in the amount that can be logged annually. Since 2000, 35 sawmills have closed and B.C. forestry jobs have declined by half.
Yet, including Fairy Creek, more than 1.6 million hectares of B.C. forests are slated to be logged under the CSA’s sustainable forest management standard.
Forestry in B.C. will never be sustainable until government and industry stop greenwashing.
Earlier this summer, on behalf of six B.C. citizens who represent forestry, industry, tourism, environment, and Indigenous interests, Ecojustice submitted a complaint to the Cartels and Deceptive Marketing Practices Branch of the federal Competition Bureau asking it to investigate the CSA’s false and misleading statements about its forestry certification standard.
We hope by seeking a large fine, we can deter B.C. industry and government greenwashing about so-called sustainable logging.
Until then, if someone asks you if B.C. logs sustainably, just point to Fairy Creek.