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More than a quarter of a million hectares in the Dawson Creek timber supply area will be managed to conserve old-growth forest.

Minister of Forests and Range and Minister Responsible for the Integrated Land Management Bureau Pat Bell made the announcement on Friday.

The 250,470 hectares are in 240 separate areas in the timber supply area, with the largest being about 10,000 hectares in size.

Old growth-management areas are mapped pieces of forest that forest companies are required to identify while preparing forest stewardship plans, and are managed to coincide with the forest’s natural lifecycle.

As the lifecycles of the trees in the area ends, they may be harvested by the licensee. The licensee offers a replacement old-growth management area, which the Province recognizes as having similar qualities.

The 250,470 hectares are the first in the Dawson Creek timber supply area to be defined as old-growth management areas. It also replaces a practice that required licensees to manage a percentage of their land base for old-growth biodiversity. But, it did not map those sections of land.

The Dawson Creek timber supply area is roughly between the Peace River and Kakwa Provincial Park, and Pine Le Moray Provincial Park and the Alberta border.

Old-growth forests are those that are more than 120 to 140 years old. The forests create habitat for thousands of plant and animal species while allowing for the cultivation of non-timber forest products such as mushrooms and medicinal plants.

The new areas bring the total number of old-growth management areas in British Columbia to about 7,800, totaling almost 675,000 hectares.

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