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Opening protected areas not ideal: Bercov

Opening protected areas and parks in B.C. to logging wouldn't be in the best interests of forestry workers, or the industry itself, according to Arnold Bercov.

Daily News - Robert Barron, July 7, 2012

Opening protected areas not ideal: Bercov
Photo by TJ Watt

Opening protected areas and parks in B.C. to logging wouldn't be in the best interests of forestry workers, or the industry itself, according to Arnold Bercov.

Bercov is the president of Pulp and Paper Workers of Canada, Local 8, which represents workers at the Harmac pulp mill at Duke Point and Western Forest Products' sawmill in Ladysmith. His concerns come at the same time that a special committee, struck by the government in May, is travelling across the province seeking public input into ways to add to the province's wood inventory, particularly in areas in the Interior that have been ravaged by the ongoing mountain pine beetle infestation.

The committee, headed by Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, is to submit a report with recommendations to the government on Aug. 15.

To access more timber, the Clark government is floating a plan that includes logging in areas that were previously off limits for environmental or visual quality reasons and changing the boundaries of forest districts to add more timber to the supply. Bercov said that while the focus of the committee is currently on the Interior, he fears that any changes to policy that would allow more logging in protected areas would inevitably apply to the Island.

"It's just a loser of an idea that doesn't serve anyone well," Bercov said. "I predict it would restart the environmental wars over forestry practices in the province and I believe that it would be a huge mistake. While there are no jobs if all the trees are protected, there will also be no jobs after everything is logged. We need to find a balance."

The Association of B.C. Professional Foresters, environmentalists and even the University of B.C.'s dean of forestry have expressed concerns, specifically over the second look at forest lands that are set aside for ecological reasons.

"The message we want out there is: 'We are not going to damage our environmental standards,'" said John Allan, president of the Council of Forest Industries, which intends to submit a brief to the committee. "I am struggling with how you would free up anything more than a few scraps of timber without doing environmental damage."

Bercov suggested better planning and management practices on behalf of the forest companies and the government to ensure a future supply of wood is what's needed, and not moving into sensitive and protected areas for logging.

"People should make it a point to have their voices heard by the government on this issue," he said.

Read more:   http://www.canada.com/Opening+protected+areas+ideal+Bercov/6898961/story.html


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