B.C.’s forest industry is currently facing a number of challenges, and the biggest one is that there is no collective vision for forestry in the province, according to Bob Brash, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association.
The TLA represents more than 500 independent logging companies in B.C.
Brash, along with TLA member Sig Kemmler, spoke to the board at the Cowichan Valley Regional District at its meeting on May 12 and said there is a lot of discussion around forestry issues these days, including the ongoing fight between environmental groups and forestry companies over logging old growth forests at Fairy Creek, but not a lot of constructive dialogue between the industry and its detractors.
“Who is really talking to who these days and are there just opposing camps without the ability to talk to each other about finding solutions moving forward?” he asked.
“Old growth forests are a high profile issue right now and that’s one reason why we have to work on a collective vision for B.C.’s working forests moving forward if we want the province to prosper, as I think most of us do. The TLA supports changes in the industry, but they must be the right changes that are balanced. None of us is ignorant of the fact that change has to happen in the industry, and we’re more than willing to enter into these discussions.”
Brash said the industry understands that it has to be more innovative in its logging practices in certain areas.
“Normal forest practices can be undertaken in some areas, but in critical areas with critical habitats, something different and more innovative must be done, and it can be done,” he said.
Ian Morrison, the CVRD director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls, said he also wishes people would spend more time talking to each other about forestry issues instead of just at each other.
“Logging roads are not good places where science-based discussions between people with opposing perspectives should be taking place,” Morrison said.
Brash said the TLA and the forest industry would love to have information-based discussions with those opposed to their logging practices.
“That’s why we’re talking about having a common vision,” he said.
“That vision will not come from the TLA or forest licensees by ourselves, it also has to come from the NGOs and community groups that might support something different than we envision. The unfortunate part right now is that it seems like emotion and tactics are different than from before, and I think that has led to isolated camps of opinion.”
Brash said it seems that the groups opposed to logging old growth forests and other forestry practices are fighting to get their message to the media first, and they sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to get their message out, whether it’s true or not.
“That’s unfortunate as people are not seeing [all sides of the issues] right now,” he said.
“I’m not blaming the media, but they do tend to grab onto the right jingle of the day and that, sometimes, is not a constructive process. It’s a challenging environment right now.”