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Long-Term Vision for Forest Management and Forest Economy Missing

The Special Committee on Timber Supply’s report raises questions about both the Liberals’ and the NDP’s commitment to a long-term forest strategy, says the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.

Bob Simpson, MLA Cariboo North, August 16, 2012

Long-Term Vision for Forest Management and Forest Economy Missing
Photo by TJ Watt

The Special Committee on Timber Supply’s report raises questions about both the Liberals’ and the NDP’s commitment to a long-term forest strategy, says the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.

“These recommendations will not support sustainable change,” said MLA Bob Simpson. “What I see in this report are politicians on both sides passing the buck to local communities with no long-term strategy for success. They’re willing to let communities decide whether to log their protected forests, but what happens when those are gone? The politicians will have moved on, leaving affected communities holding the bag.”

Simpson says there are five areas in particular that need attention:

1. Reforestation programs must be directed at growing healthy forests that will be adaptable to climate change. “I am pleased to see the Committee highlighted silviculture as an area that needs more attention, but the focus needs to be on managing for healthy, resilient forest ecosystems, rather than simply growing more timber,” said Simpson.

2. A thorough review of the Beetle Action Coalitions (BACs) is necessary. “Before there is any more investment in these BACs, they need to be completely audited for effectiveness and restructured,” said Simpson.

3. Act on the recommendations of the Future Forest Ecosystems Scientific Council. The FFESC report recommends looking at all aspects of forestry and land use planning through the lens of climate change. “Their recommendations must be implemented immediately,” said Simpson. They include promoting resilient forests and developing hardwood management strategies.

4. Prioritize new economic opportunities. “Minister Thomson has said that utilizing bio-energy and biomass will be an important part of mitigating the upcoming economic impacts. What we really need is for the Minister, or someone in Cabinet or even in the Opposition, to lead and be a champion for an aggressive bio-economy strategy,” Simpson said. “The government has several reports sitting in front of them outlining progressive strategies, but they haven’t acted on them.”

5. Do not rebuild the Babine Forest Products mill. “From everything I’ve seen and heard, that mill cannot be rebuilt without sacrificing forest health and putting other communities at risk,” said Simpson. The report and background documents indicate that half of the fibre that Hampton needs to rebuild is not currently available and must be sourced from marginal volume stands, old growth management areas, and areas set aside for Visual Quality Objectives.

Simpson noted there were some positives in the report, including a clear synopsis of the concerns heard throughout the consultation process, and a commitment to re-inventory BC’s forests.

The Independent MLA for Cariboo North noted that John Rustad, Chair of the Committee, has acknowledged that a 20 per cent drop in mature timber over the next few years will potentially mean supply shortages for eight other mills in the region.

“The bottom line, and the Committee report confirms this, is that we’re going to see a dramatic timber reduction in the near term,” said Simpson. “Up to this point the government’s mountain pine beetle strategy has been to log as much as possible. This report essentially recommends continuing on that path in order to support the status quo. What we need instead is a bold, long-term provincial forest strategy that takes into account climate change and a changing economy. Unfortunately, you won’t find it in this report.”

The FFESC’s report is available here: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/ftp/HFP/external/!publish/Web/FFESC/reports/FFESCsynthesisJune7.docx

The Bio-Economy Committee report is available here: http://www.gov.bc.ca/jti/down/bio_economy_report_final.pdf


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