BC’s Supreme Court Rules The Ministry Of Forests Does Not Have A Duty To Protect Forests

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1ForestEthics and the Wilderness Committee sued BC’s Minister of Forests for failing to protect the Douglas fir, which once occupied approximately 2,555 square kilometers of BC. This species has shrunk to only about 20 square kilometers and roughly 2.75 kilometers of Old Growth trees. does not have a “legal duty, express or implied” to do his job.  BC’s Supreme Court Rules that the Ministry of Forests does not have a duty to Protect Forests.

Ministry Of Forests Does Not Have A Duty To Protect Forests

 Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1887, released in Public Domain
Coast Douglas-fir, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1887 – released in Public Domain

Both sides recognize that Douglas Fir are a species at risk.

Judge G P Weatherill ruled that “The goals of the Act and Regulations are complex and tripartite. They are intended, and indeed require, balancing the competing interests of the logging industry, environmental protection and Aboriginal interests. To meet these goals, a specialized body should review issues and concerns that arise under the Act and Regulations. In the future, if the petitioners have an issue, they should apply to the (Forest Practices) Board for relief.”

“The B.C. government likes to say that it has strong laws and sustainable forest practices, but the court’s ruling has just exposed those claims as a sham,” said Torrance Coste of the Wilderness Committee.

Need For A Standalone Law

BC Forestry - Courtesy Sam Beebe, Ecotrust, cc by 2.0
(Click on photo to enlarge) BC Forestry – Courtesy Sam Beebe, Ecotrust, cc by 2.0

“It’s high time for B.C. to finally introduce a standalone endangered species law,” wrote Kimberly Shearon, communications coordinator for ecojustice.

“The current gap in our laws threatens more than the Coastal Douglas-fir and other plant species. B.C. is home to 75 per cent of Canada’s bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish species and 66 per cent of its butterfly species. More 1,900 of these species are at-risk. A staggering 87 per cent these don’t receive any protection under provincial or federal laws.”

(Image at top of page: Douglas Fir – photo by Roland Tanglao, cc by 2.0)

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