BC gov introduces legislation to amend the Forest and Range Practices Act
The B.C. government on Wednesday introduced legislation to amend the Forest and Range Practices Act. The provincial government claims the changes will make B.C.’s approach to forests more focused on sustainability.
“Forestry policies – put in place two decades ago – have limited our ability to fight climate change, protect old growth forests and share the benefits with Indigenous and local communities,” said B.C. Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy in a statement. “By increasing public control between government and First Nations, we’re committed to smarter management of our forests that prioritizes public benefits and engagement now and into the future.”
The amendments will increase local control and prioritize forest health, eventually replacing forest stewardship plans currently developed by the sector with forest landscape plans. The B.C. government claims these plans will better address ecological, cultural and timber values.
The provincial government also says the forest landscape plans will invite greater decision-making between government and First Nations, give First Nations, communities and the public more opportunities to view and comment on forest-sector harvesting plans, and allow the chief forest to set stocking standards for replanting and reduce wildfire risk by creating wild land buffers between communities and forests.
“Improvements to the Forest and Range Practices Act pave the way for a new model of forest stewardship in British Columbia. We look forward to increased opportunities to work with the Province and forest licensees to ensure forest management practices support our title, rights and values for future generations. Our Indigenous Nations understand the need to restore balance to managing forests and forest ecosystems in B.C. Changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act are an important step in promoting resiliency, adaptability and stewardship of forest resources at a landscape scale, and enable a greater role for Indigenous Nations in forest management. Forest-landscape planning is an opportunity to reimagine how we collectively manage forest and range resources in ways that support reconciliation and recognition of our role as title holders in forest management consistent with our inherent rights and title,” said Nazko First Nation Chief Leah Stump in a statement.
“This forest landscape planning legislation will enable British Columbia to better manage our forest resources in the face of climate change and the cumulative effects of resource development. For our reforestation sector, it means we will be managing stands and implementing forest practices more sensitive to the complexities and dynamics of how our forest and range ecosystems connect over the landscape and time,” said John Betts, executive director of the Western Forestry Contractor’s Association, in a press release.