The B.C. government has deferred old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed for two years, where at least 185 protesters have been arrested in the past several weeks.
Premier John Horgan made the announcement during a press briefing Wednesday, noting that logging will be halted in 884 hectares of old-growth forest in Fairy Creek, along with 1,150 hectares of old-growth in the nearby Central Walbran area. Both locations are in Southern Vancouver Island.
Horgan noted the order was passed by Cabinet earlier Wednesday, after the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations made the request on Monday.
"We have allowed, as a province, the title holders to make decisions on their land," Horgan said.
"I'm very excited about the deferrals that will be coming later in the summer and all through the implementation of our old-growth plan."
Old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed has gained national attention in recent weeks, as hundreds of protesters have gathered in the region, defying a court injunction, in an attempt to halt the logging of some of the oldest trees in the province.
"I'm hopeful that those who have taken to the roads of Southern Vancouver Island will understand that this process is not one that can happen overnight," Horgan said. "I understand the importance of preserving these areas, but I also understand that you can't turn on a dime when you're talking about an industry that has been the foundation of B.C.'s economy.
"There are going to be people who say 'not good enough,' and I anticipate that, but I also know that most British Columbians understand and recognize that the types of changes we're talking about ... we can't do it overnight."
Horgan noted that Teal Jones, that company that was logging the Fairy Creek area, will not be compensated by the government for the two-year deferral.
The move comes after the province deferred the logging of nearly 200,000 hectares of old-growth forest across B.C. back in September.
Horgan said his government will be working to defer the logging of more areas of old-growth in the province, but he would not put a timeline on when old-growth logging would be completely ended in B.C.