Old Growth Forests

There are about 11.1 million hectares of old growth forest in B.C. Old growth forests make up about 20% of B.C.’s publicly managed forest areas.

Last updated: January 19, 2022

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Latest news

January 19, 2021

A planning and reconciliation agreement between four member Nations of the Na̲nwaḵolas Council and Western Forest Products Inc. (Western) includes an agreement to defer harvest of approximately 2,500 hectares of ancient, rare and other priority old growth for two years in support of Province's Old Growth Strategy.

Read the news release

December 16, 2021

The Province is making progress on the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel in partnership with First Nations, with the vast majority of First Nation rights and title holders having expressed that they want to engage on old-growth management in their territories.
The Province is also making nearly $19 million in new funding available for the remainder of 2021-22 to provide enhanced supports to eligible workers, contractors and communities as deferrals are implemented.
Read the news release

Learn more about worker and community supports

November 2, 2021

The Province has announced its intention to work in partnership with First Nations to defer harvest of ancient, rare and priority large stands of old growth within 2.6 million hectares of B.C.’s most at-risk old-growth forests.

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June 24, 2021

The Government of British Columbia has brought together an independent Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel to support its next steps in its science-based approach to transforming old growth management.

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A new approach to old forests 

In 2019, the Government of B.C. embarked on a new approach to old forests, commissioning an independent panel to engage British Columbians and collect their views on the importance and future of old growth in the province. The response was clear from First Nations, communities, industry and organizations: it is time for change.
Since receiving the independent panel’s report in 2020, the government has taken decisive action to act on the Panel’s recommendations, beginning with the immediate and first priorities outlined in its report:

  • Engaging the full involvement of Indigenous leaders and organizations to review the report and work with the Province on any subsequent policy or strategy development and implementation
  • Identifying and protecting more old growth in collaboration with First Nations, in addition to the deferrals announced in 2020 covering 196,000 hectares of old forests
  • Addressing information gaps, updating inventory and improving public access to information
  • Involving industry, workers, environmental groups, community-based organizations and local governments in discussions about the future of old growth forests

Consistent with the recommendations in the Report, government is committed to working with Indigenous communities, industry and other stakeholders on a path forward to a new old growth strategy.

Old Growth Strategic Review - The Path Forward

Learn more about the strategic review

Learn more about work underway

Defining and identifying old growth forests

Since the 1990s, the Government of British Columbia has used a definition of old growth defined in The Biodiversity Guidebook. This definition is based on:

  • the age of trees within biogeoclimatic zones
  • the frequency of natural disturbances such as wind, fire and landslides
  • and when the province’s different forest ecosystems typically begin to develop old growth characteristics

Characteristics of old growth forests vary according to location and tree species, however, it's commonly agreed that they tend to have more standing dead trees, or snags, and decomposing wood than younger forests. The trees are often larger, and the forest canopy is layered, with openings that allow light, encouraging the growth of understory vegetation such as ferns, shrubs, mosses and lichens.

Most of B.C.’s coastal forests are considered to be old growth if they contain trees that are more than 250 years old. Some types of interior forests are considered to be old growth if they contain trees that are more than 140 years old.

Learn more about old growth forests and values