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78% concerned about logging of old-growth forests in BC; 74% support doubling protection of provincial lands; 66% are against using whole trees to make wood pellets

Vancouver, BC — Sierra Club BC and Insights West partnered to examine public perceptions of several key forestry practices in British Columbia and found the vast majority of BC residents are very concerned about the destruction of old-growth forests in BC, are opposed to the practice of exporting raw logs, are opposed to whole trees being made into pellets for energy production and are opposed to the logging of old-growth forests.

Last year during the election campaign, BC’s Premier John Horgan and the NDP government made a series of promises around protecting old-growth forests, and it appears that a large majority of British Columbians would like to see these promises kept. A large majority (85%) of British Columbians feel that it is important that the BC NDP keep these promises (with 55% considering it ‘very important’ and 30% ‘somewhat important’). Six-in-ten (60%) are aware of the promises made, with 24% aware and familiar with the promises, and 36% aware but not familiar.

Only 16% of BC residents say the government has done a ‘very good’ (2%) or ‘good’ (14%) job in keeping this election promise. More than double that number (40%) think they have done a bad job and 45% are not sure).

Relative to other social and environmental issues, concern about forestry-related issues rate highly among British Columbians. As expected, COVID-19 tops the list of issues, with 86% ‘very’ (60%) or ‘somewhat’ (26%) concerned. An equal percentage of BC residents are concerned about poverty (86%) and declining salmon stocks (86%). Over eight-in-ten are concerned about endangered species/ecosystems (84%), and about the opioid crisis (81%). Next on the list is the logging of old-growth forests (78%); residents also demonstrate high levels of concern for other issues such as single-use plastics (77%), climate change (76%), the impact of logging on climate change and nature (76%), systematic racism (73%), and raw log exports (68%).

When British Columbians are asked to rate the job the provincial government is doing on these same 11 issues, it is clear that COVID-19 is the only instance where the majority feels they are doing a good job, whereas scores on forestry issues rank near the bottom of the list. The BC government’s handling of COVID-19 stands alone as the bright spot in their track record, with 58% giving the NDP ‘good’ (44%), or ‘very good’ (14%) scores on this particular file. British Columbians are fairly equally split in giving the government good and bad scores when it comes to climate change, single-use plastics and systemic racism. While the government receives the largest number of bad scores on poverty (50% total bad job) and the opioid crisis (54% bad job), there is still a sizeable minority of British Columbians who provide positive scores.

The BC NDP government receives the lowest positive scores on forestry and eco-system related issues; these also stand out as having the highest number of British Columbians (between 40% and 50%) who don’t know enough about the issues to provide a rating. At the bottom of the list is raw log exports—only 12% of BC residents think the BC government is doing a good job here, less than one-third the number who provide negative scores (38%). Declining salmon stocks are second lowest, with 15% positive scores and 39% negative. Performance on logging of old-growth forests is 18% positive and 42% negative, and the impact of logging on nature and climate is about the same (20% positive, 39% negative) as is the handling of endangered species and at-risk ecosystems (23% positive, 36% negative).

Recently there has been a global initiative signed by 50 countries, including Canada, to conserve nature, halt biodiversity loss, tackle climate change and encourage sustainability. Canada has adopted the group’s target to protect 30% of our lands and oceans by 2030. Currently, BC protects 15% of its lands and has not yet committed to the new target, but BC residents are firmly behind the government making that commitment. The vast majority (74%) support the idea of the 30% target, including 46% who ‘strongly support’ the initiative, and 28% who ‘moderately support’ it, and only 16% are opposed. Females (82%), younger British Columbians (84% of those 18-34 years and 73% of those 35-54 years) as well as provincial NDP (88%) and Green (91%) voters, and those living on Vancouver Island (79%) or in Metro Vancouver (78%) are the greatest supporters of the idea.

Last, we covered a forestry topic that very few British Columbians are even aware of, and that is cutting down trees in BC for the purposes of turning them into wood pellets to feed electricity-producing power plants. Only 40% of BC residents are even aware of the issue and even fewer (17%) are aware and familiar with this practice. The majority (66%) of BC residents are against this practice (43% ‘strongly oppose’ and 23% ‘moderately oppose’), only 13% support it, and the remainder (21%) do not know enough about the topic to form an opinion. BC Green (85%) and NDP voters (75%) and those on Vancouver Island (77%) are most likely to be in opposition.

“These polling results show very clearly that the escalating frustration and despair about logging of the last old-growth forests in BC is shared by the vast majority of British Columbians who want the provincial government to follow through on their promises without further delay,” says Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner for Sierra Club BC.

“Forestry issues in British Columbia have recently taken a backseat to COVID-19—like everything else these days – but there’s still huge concern about the destruction of our old-growth forests,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “Our polling shows that there is a high level of concern about the state of our forests in BC, and the impact of industrial logging on our ecosystems and climate change, and the NDP is scoring poorly when it comes to the job they are doing on this file.”

View this press release on Sierra Club BC’s website

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 25 out of 26 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions. 

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted May 12 to 15, 2021 among a sample of 831 residents across BC. Respondents are part of Insights West’s Feedback Community, a panel of BC residents recruited from a variety of sources and backgrounds who share their views and opinions on an ongoing basis, and from other panels provided by partner providers. The margin of error with the total sample—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West


Jens Wieting
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner
Sierra Club BC