Each year, less than one per cent of the area designated for sustainable timber harvesting by B.C.’s independent chief forester is harvested. (B.C. government photo)

Each year, less than one per cent of the area designated for sustainable timber harvesting by B.C.’s independent chief forester is harvested. (B.C. government photo)

GUEST COLUMN: A strategy for forests that benefits all British Columbians

Industry, union leaders seek balance on old-growth preservation

By Jeff Bromley and Susan Yurkovich

Across British Columbia, important discussions are happening about the future of our provincial forest sector. As these discussions continue and as the B.C. government advances consultations on the Old Growth Strategic Review and looks to modernize provincial forest policy, the United Steelworkers’ Wood Council and the B.C. Council of Forest Industries – together – believe it’s important to take a balanced approach that is grounded by good science, informed by an inclusive process and creates a path forward that benefits all British Columbians.

We are very proud to work in B.C.’s forest industry – a sector that is foundational to the provincial economy, recognized as a global leader in forest management practices and delivering the low-carbon products the world needs.

As COFI’s recently released report Contributing to a Better B.C.: 2019 Forest Industry Economic Impact Study found, it’s an industry that supports 100,000 good jobs for British Columbians and generates $13 billion in GDP and nearly $8.5 billion in wages, salaries, and benefits. Importantly, the forest industry contributes more than $4 billion in government revenue annually to support healthcare, education, and other important social services.

RELATED: B.C. suspends logging in nine areas for consultation

RELATED: What exactly is old-growth, how much is protected

Like all British Columbians, we cherish our forests and value B.C.’s commitment to conservation. B.C. is already a leader in this regard, with about 52 per cent of the land base — which totals 95 million hectares — either protected or under some form of designation. But in addition to conservation values, we also value B.C.’s renewable forest resource, including old growth, for its spiritual and cultural uses, and the jobs and economic opportunities it provides to Indigenous communities, people and families all over the province.

Each year, less than one per cent of the area designated for sustainable timber harvesting by B.C.’s independent chief forester is harvested. About one-quarter of that one per cent is considered old growth, and this modest harvest of mature timber supports 38,000 jobs and contributes $3.5 billion to B.C.’s GDP.

As the provincial government undertakes the work on the review and forest policy modernization, it is critically important that we all work to ensure the result is an evidenced-based, province-wide strategy not only for old-growth, but for all of B.C.’s forests.

To achieve this, it’s essential to first define a clear vision for B.C.’s forests. We need to know where we are headed to create a strategy that provides British Columbians a refreshed vision that balances the environmental, social, and economic objectives for our forests.

The next step is creating a province-wide implementation strategy for all forests province-wide, including all Crown forest lands, parks, protected areas, and special management zones, not just the timber harvesting land base. The strategy should be implemented through a plan that prioritizes forest health and sustainability, recognizing the dynamic nature of forests and planning for the effects of climate change.

Getting this right will require input from a wide range of people and organizations. That’s why it it’s critical that First Nations, communities, labour, industry, and others be engaged throughout the process. It’s also essential that decisions about B.C.’s forest resources are grounded in and informed by science, good data, robust socio-economic analysis and incorporate traditional knowledge. This will ensure that government’s objectives are achieved while also minimizing the potential for negative impacts on cultural uses, jobs, families and communities in both urban and rural B.C.

We recognize that there will be differences of opinions about what approach is best, but we believe it’s important that the consultation process brings different parties to the table together to hear each other’s perspectives. Ensuring this vital and informative work is completed prior to any further land use decisions being made will help us get past divisiveness in our communities and move us towards collective solutions.

By working together and balancing the important roles that forests play in our province, we can find a positive path forward that ensures the sector continues to provide benefits for all British Columbians for generations to come.

Jeff Bromley is Chair, Wood Council Canada, United Steelworkers. Susan Yurkovich is President and CEO, B.C. Council of Forest Industries. The Steelworkers’ Wood Council represents over 12,000 forestry workers in B.C. and COFI represents most lumber, pulp and paper, and manufactured wood producers from across the province.

BC legislatureforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read