Old growth deferral areas
We are currently working in partnership with Indigenous Nations to defer logging activity within 2.6 million hectares of B.C.’s most at-risk old growth forests. Approved short-term deferrals are helping protect and support these ecosystems while First Nations, the Province, and other partners develop a new approach for old growth forest management.
To support the deferral process, government ceased the advertisement and sales of BC Timber Sales in the areas identified by the independent technical advisory panel within traditional territories of First Nation(s) supporting the deferral recommendations.
As of October 2023, coordination between First Nations and forests companies has resulted in 2.4 million hectares of old growth being permanently protected or deferred since November 2021.
Deferrals will remain in place until the new forest management approach being informed by the old growth strategic review is implemented and local discussions on long-term management of old growth values are concluded through initiatives such as Land Use Plans, Forest Landscape Plans and Integrated Resource Management Plans.
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There are several mechanisms for deferring harvest in old forests. These include:
- Voluntary deferrals, where a licensee or tenure holder volunteers to avoid harvesting in areas for a period of time
- Regulation based deferrals including the use of Part 13 of the Forest Act to establish a legally enforceable deferral
- Directed deferrals, in the case of the provincial government providing direction to BC Timber Sales
The independent panel report encouraged the use of these methods when considering deferrals. Deferrals are not permanent protections, but will be subject to future decisions as part of addressing the New Future for Old Forests Report recommendations as a whole.
Consistent with reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, First Nations support for proposed deferrals is being sought before harvest deferrals are put in place.
Maps of supported deferrals are not being shared publicly at this time to respect the government to government relationship with First Nations rights and titleholders, and we will only be releasing maps of deferred areas in their territory if the First Nation want this information to be made public.
Some old growth deferral areas are established under Part 13 of the Forest Act as “designated areas” and the Act gives the authority for a Ministerial Order (MO) to direct activities, such as suspending forestry activities, within those designated areas. Designated Areas are often made up of both old growth and second growth forests because old growth stands are not all adjacent and therefore attempting to specify just old growth stands in an area would be very difficult.
In September 2020, the Province implemented ten Part 13 deferrals in partnership with First Nations on 196,000 hectares of old growth forests throughout B.C. under Old Growth Designated Area No.1, which included the following areas:
- Clayoquot Sound
- Crystalline Creek
- McKelvie Creek
- Seven Sisters
- Skagit-Silver Daisy
- Stockdale Creek
- Upper Southgate River
- Central Walbran Area
- Incomappleux Valley (north)
In June 2021, the Fairy Creek Watershed Designated Area No. 1 was established on the request of the Hereditary Chiefs of Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations to defer logging in Fairy Creek.
In January 2023, the Province announced a new conservancy to protect rare ecosystems in the Incomappleux Valley. Incomappleux Valley (north) was removed from Old Growth Designated Area No. 1 and the Incomappleux Valley (south) Designated Area No. 1 was established.
Chronology of Old Growth Designated Area No. 1:
- Order in Council: Establishment of Old Growth Designated Area No. 1 (established in 2020)
- Ministerial Order: Old Growth Designated Area No. 1 (2020)
- Part 13 order maps (PDF, 13 MB)
The list below shows the current Part 13 old growth designated areas as of September 2023.
Fairy Creek: 1,184 hectares (883 hectares of old growth)
The Fairy Creek watershed, located northeast of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, is home to beautiful coastal old growth rainforest and marbled murrelet.
- Order in Council: Establishment of Fairy Creek Watershed Designated Area No. 1 (2021)
- Ministerial Order to suspend forestry activities: Fairy Creek Watershed Designated Area No. 1 Zone A/B (2021)
- Part 13 order map: Fairy Creek Watershed (PDF, 1.3 MB)
- News Release: Old growth harvesting deferred in Fairy Creek, Walbran areas
- News Release: Province extends Fairy Creek old-growth deferral
The Central Walbran Valley on southern Vancouver Island, located next to the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, is home to grand old-growth coastal rainforest, including majestic and culturally important western red cedar.
Clayoquot Sound: 260,578 hectares (171,726ha of old growth)
Renowned for its beauty and range of resource values, typical forests of the very wet Coastal Western Hemlock zone, with western hemlock, western red cedar, yellow cedar, balsam, berries, ferns and moss.
Crystalline Creek: 9,595 hectares (921ha of old growth)
H’Kusam: 1,050 hectares (590ha of old growth)
Inland rainforest with intact riparian habitats, more than 250 lichen species, lowland forests and old-growth forests estimated to be between 800 and 1,500 years old.
- Order in Council: Establishment of Incomappleux Valley South Designated Area No. 1 (2023)
- Ministerial Order to suspend forestry activities: Incomappleux Valley South Designated Area No. 1 (2023)
- Part 13 order map: Incomappleux Valley (PDF, 1 MB)
- News Release: New conservancy protects rare ecosystems in Incomappleux Valley
McKelvie Creek: 2,231 hectares (1,852ha of old growth)
Seven Sisters: 4,510 hectares (2,705ha of old growth)
A complete elevation sequence of forested ecosystems, with a blend of coastal, interior and northern features, habitat for many red- and blue listed wildlife species.
Skagit-Silver Daisy: 5,745 hectares (1,486ha of old growth)
Largely intact transition forest between coastal and interior types, with species representative of both, including sub-alpine fir, western and mountain hemlock, western red and yellow cedar and Douglas fir, home to wildlife including spotted owls.
Stockdale Creek: 11,515 hectares (1,093ha of old growth)
Upper Southgate River: 17,321 hectares (9,824ha of old growth)
Note: click the map below to enlarge.