The B.C. government yesterday released an intentions paper about its plan to modernize forest policy and protect old-growth in the province.
According to a government press release, the plan has three guiding principles: increased sector participation, enhanced stewardship and sustainability, and a strengthened social contract that will give government more control over management of the industry.
The provincial government says the proposed changes to forestry policy will help address the dwindling fibre supply and promote value-added wood products such as mass timber. Proposed changes include a compensatory framework to redistribute forest tenures to Indigenous Nations, forest communities and small operators. The document also pledges to act on the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review in collaboration with Indigenous leaders, local governments, labour, industry and environmental groups.
“Forests are at the heart of our identity here in B.C. They are essential to a healthy environment and provide good jobs to tens of thousands of British Columbians,” said B.C. Premier John Horgan in a statement. “We inherited our beautiful ancient forests, and we owe it to future generations to protect them. We have already taken action by deferring hundreds of thousands of hectares and protecting 1,500 groves with big, iconic trees. But we know there is more to do. Current forestry policies – put in place two decades ago – don’t adequately address today’s challenges. They have limited our options to adapt to the impacts of climate change, protect old growth, share the benefits fairly with local communities or move forward on reconciliation.”
“While early days in this initiative, the principles of enhancing participation and strengthening the forest sector, improving its social contract and enhancing stewardship are admirable objectives. If the end result of working with organizations like ours and Indigenous peoples for improved forestry policies results in increased certainty for B.C.’s forestry workers and forest-dependent communities, while improving investment opportunities towards moving the sector forward, we can collectively be proud of this accomplishment,” said Bob Brash, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association, in a statement.
“As an association that represents many of the last remaining small and medium-sized independent specialty manufacturing facilities, the ILMA has always advocated for a diverse industry that extracts the most value from our sustainably managed forests, and that provides for family supporting jobs. This modernizing forest policy initiative announced today looks to redefine the future of our industry by moving to a more value focus with more community involvement. We are excited to work with government to ensure many positive outcomes are realized from this approach,” added Dan Battistella, president of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association.
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