VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has extended an order deferring old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island.

The extension to Feb. 1, 2025, applies to the order issued two years ago at the request of the Pacheedaht First Nation, whose territories encompass the entire watershed.

A statement from the Ministry of Forests says the deferral protects just under 12 square kilometres of timber on Crown land within the watershed.

It says the province and First Nation will continue collaborating on long-term forest management of the Fairy Creek region, including management of old-growth forests.

When it announced the initial deferral in 2021, the province said the postponement to old-growth logging would allow Pacheedaht titleholders time to build resource-stewardship plans for their lands.

Almost 1,200 opponents of old-growth logging were arrested at Fairy Creek after an injunction preventing interference with harvesting operations was issued and then extended in 2021.

The B.C. Prosecution Service has since withdrawn contempt charges against several of those accused of violating the injunction, and is expected to drop more charges, after a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled RCMP made arrests without properly informing demonstrators of the injunction details.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2023.