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BC’s Land Use Laws ‘Hardwired for Failure’

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New mapping and analysis show gaping holes in conservation

For Immediate Release

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Two reports released today show gaping holes in BC conservation, both on the ground and hardwired in its laws. Maps of BC depicting all environmental land use designations in the province –the legacy of 20 years of land use planning –were released by ForestEthics Solutions. Drawing together this information for the first time, the maps reveal a deep divide between existing land use in BC and conservation recommendations made by top scientists. A legal analysis from West Coast Environmental Law traces the root of the problem to laws and policies that are ‘hardwired’ to fail BC’s environment and communities in an era of climate change.

“BC’s laws and policies about land use are ‘hardwired’ for failure,” said West Coast Environmental Law’s Executive Director & Senior Counsel Jessica Clogg. “Conservation outcomes from our significant efforts at land use have been stymied by gaps and barriers such as caps on allowable protection; loopholes and exemptions in how land use plans were legalized; and failure to address the realities of climate change.”

Full report at: /sites/default/files/old/files/WCEL_LandUse_report_web.pdf

Based on data assembled in collaboration with several provincial ministries, the maps and legal analysis illustrate how BC’s collection of land-use designations masks a weak and fragmented approach to conservation at the provincial level. The findings show that existing land use designations do not allow the management of cumulative effects of multiple forms of resource development; present barriers to using science to manage for resilient ecosystems and communities; and stand in the way of emerging opportunities that could support BC’s economic wellbeing in the 21st century.

Full report at:

ForestEthics Solutions also distilled the findings of 6 major independent reports related to conserving biological diversity in BC released in the last nine years in order to understand the levels of conservation that are needed.

“BC’s piecemeal approach has been unsuccessful,” says Valerie Langer of ForestEthics Solutions. “On the face of it BC has a lot of land use designations relevant to conservation management, but we found a real disconnect between these and the province’s environmental performance, which is what actually counts. 1900 species and ecosystems in BC are at risk, not accounting for climate change impacts to come, demonstrating that our conservation designations need to be topped up, smartened up, linked up and toughened up.”

Taken together, the reports make recommendations about how to overcome gaps and barriers to better conserve values British Columbians care deeply about –from environmental and community resilience, to water, species and ecosystem protection – and to meet provincial objectives for climate action in a manner that stimulates a sustainable economy.


For more information:

Valerie Langer
ForestEthics Solutions

Jessica Clogg
West Coast Environmental Law