B.C.’s new forestry measures focus on co-planning with First Nations
February 16, 2023 By Maria Church
The B.C. government yesterday introduced a slew of new measures around old-growth, innovation and forest stewardship that places significant emphasis on collaboration and co-planning with First Nations.
The measures includes funding for eight new regional “Forest Landscape Planning (FLP)” tables focused on old-growth management, with participation from around 50 First Nations. The tables will determine if and where old-growth harvesting happens in those regions, the province said in a news release.
The announcement included news the province is doubling and expanding eligibility of its BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund. The now $180-million fund will support projects such as sawmill retooling for smaller-diameter trees or higher value wood products.
“As we work to protect more old growth, we know we need to accelerate our efforts to build a stronger, more innovative forestry industry that better shares the benefits with workers and communities. Forestry is a foundation of B.C.’s economy,” Forests Minister Bruce Ralston said in the release. “That’s why we are doubling provincial investments to help mills retrofit to get off old-growth logs and manufacture more high-value wood products right here in B.C., so we create more jobs from every tree.”
The province is taking further actions to implement its Old Growth Strategic Review this year, including:
- “developing and implementing alternatives to clear-cutting practices, such as selective harvesting techniques, that better support forest resiliency, ecosystem health and climate adaptation, through a new $10-million silviculture innovation program;
- repealing outdated wording in the Forest and Range Practices Act regulations that prioritizes timber supply over all other forest objectives, like water quality, wildlife habitat and biodiversity;
- increasing Indigenous participation in co-developing changes to forest policy through $2.4 million provided to the First Nations Forestry Council;
- protecting more old-growth forests and biodiverse areas by leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars of philanthropic donations to fund conservation measures supported by the Province and First Nations, through a new conservation financing mechanism to be set up within six months;
- enabling local communities and First Nations to finance old-growth protection by selling verified carbon offsets that represent long-term emission reductions through the new Forest Carbon Offset Protocol 2.0, which will be finalized this year; and
- completing the Old Growth Strategic Action Plan by the end of 2023, to be developed in collaboration with First Nations and in consultation with stakeholders.”
B.C. First Nations Forestry Council CEO Lennard Joe said in the release the council is looking forward to working with the province to modernize forest policy.
“The province’s commitment to continue implementation of the Old Growth Strategic Review and to increase forest landscape planning opportunities for First Nations are both vital to increasing the participation of First Nations in the forest sector as full partners,” Joe said.
In a separate news release, BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) president and CEO Linda Coady welcomed the positive steps in investments, frameworks and relationships to advance old-growth management in B.C.
“In addition to important capacity funding for Indigenous Nations and the First Nations Forestry Council, actions being taken to accelerate the old growth review process will also support land use planning at the local level. Strengthened Indigenous and local engagement on land use planning at the regional level will help ensure goals for forest health and biodiversity are met while also creating more predictability for workers, communities and forest-related businesses across B.C.,” Coady said.
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