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press release

B.C. releases draft Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Framework, Ecojustice reacts 

November 15, 2023

VANCOUVER/UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) TERRITORIES — Today, the B.C. government released a draft biodiversity and ecosystem health framework (“BEH Framework”) aimed at improving long-term nature protection in the province. The BEH Framework sets out actions toward fulfilling B.C.’s commitment to making biodiversity and ecosystem health a priority in all government decisions. 

This commitment derives from the second recommendation of the Old Growth Strategic Review, a report commissioned by B.C. in 2020, which highlights the need for an urgent ‘paradigm’ shift that prioritizes ecosystem health over industry interests.   

This prioritization in law and policy is essential to protecting old growth forests and creating sustainable and prosperous life in B.C. for present and future generations of all living beings. Ecojustice has long advocated for these systemic changes, and we look forward to seeing the commitments in the Framework realized. Ecojustice spokespeople released the following statements in reaction to the draft framework: 

Sarah Korpan, B.C. legislative affairs specialist, Ecojustice said: 

“With today’s release of the draft BEH framework, B.C. continues to set the stage for realizing their commitment to biodiversity. The transformative actions in this framework are a critical starting point for uprooting the system that has long put species and ecosystems on the backburner, and I commend B.C. for taking this significant step. 

“Following this engagement process, we hope B.C. remains steadfast in their strongest commitments in the framework. This includes their reiterated commitment to co-developing a new law with First Nations that makes biodiversity and ecosystem health a priority in all government decisions. A new law is key to driving the systemic change needed to achieve meaningful stewardship of land and water in the province.  

“Unfortunately, the release of this draft framework is set against the backdrop of a stark reality: old growth continues to be logged at an alarming rate, destroying entire ecosystems and pushing some species toward extinction, including the northern spotted owl. B.C. has committed to putting interim measures in place while they carry out the longer-term action of the framework – this is a critical piece that government must act on immediately.  

“We can only aspire to the big changes promised in the Framework if B.C. puts immediate, interim protection measures in place, such as logging deferrals. B.C. has the commitment and the tools to get started. The stage is set, now it’s time to call ‘action.’” 

Victoria Watson, lawyer and law reform specialist, Ecojustice said: 

“Today’s release of the BEH Framework marks the B.C. government’s first concrete step towards legally enshrining the prioritization of biodiversity and ecosystem health over industry interests. The strategic direction detailed in the framework has the potential to transform how B.C. manages the natural world by addressing significant gaps in legislation and policy that have left species and natural spaces vulnerable to exploitation. 

“A co-developed law, as committed to in the framework, is the only real way to close legal loopholes that allow industry to operate recklessly in pursuit of profit. To effectively do this, a new law should include high standards and objectives for environmental stewardship to which government and all industry sectors are held accountable. But a new toolkit won’t be as effective if it’s filled with the same tools. B.C. needs to use new legislation as an opportunity to utilize new tools and designations for ecosystem stewardship, including Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas. The Framework holds great potential to set this important work into motion.  

“But unlocking the Framework’s transformative potential requires a paradigmatic shift in its implementation that’s driven by Indigenous worldviews. B.C. must prioritize biodiversity and ecosystem health in the rollout of this framework, so that industry interests do not dilute its potential to reframe how the province manages the natural world. Most essential to this transformation is guidance through Indigenous leadership, to ensure the existing western paradigm of protecting and conserving the natural world is transformed in a manner that respects and engages Indigenous rights, jurisdiction, laws and knowledges.  

“It’s time for B.C. to rewrite its relationship with the natural world. If implemented well, this framework provides an opportunity to do just that.” 

Draft open for public engagement 

The draft framework can be accessed by members of the public here: 

The public is invited to provide comments by contacting: biodiversity.ecosystemhealth@gov.bc.ca