Letter: Time to start talking to each other about forestry

The vision will not come about through any singular one of the vested interests

Time to start talking to each other about forestry

I would like to respond to a letter appearing in the Oct. 5 edition of the Cowichan Valley Citizen.

Paul Slade is among many British Columbians who are frustrated by what has transpired over the last several months at Fairy Creek and the BC Truck Loggers Association joins him in expressing that same frustration and concern — but because facts matter, I feel the need to clarify a few points.

Most important is the fact that there are 13.7 million hectares of old growth trees in British Columbia, of which 10 million hectares are protected from harvesting because they lie outside of the timber supply area or are protected in parks. In other words, we will never run out of old growth. It is also important to note that each year, less than a third of one per cent of British Columbia’s total forest area is harvested — and only 0.1 per cent of the total forest area harvested in British Columbia is old growth forest. Additionally, B.C. is already a world leader in completely sustainable logging practices.

One thing we can agree on is if more old growth forests are to be protected, affected contractors need to be compensated.

That said, I think most people would agree this situation is creating a level of uncertainty that goes beyond Fairy Creek and has serious implications for the entire sector, forest dependent communities and working families. Lost in the back and forth has been any constructive and collaborative conversation or attempt to strike a solution. This is why our Association has renewed a call for the B.C. government to facilitate a way forward, as a matter of urgency.

The vision will not come about through any singular one of the vested interests, including the TLA, forest licensees, non-government organizations, First Nations or community groups. That is why we are calling on the premier and minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to bring the key stakeholder groups together — in a real, thoughtful and collaborative manner.

If we truly and collectively want the sector to prosper, there are solutions to address government and societies’ expectations of B.C.’s forest management. However, this requires meaningful collaboration, decision-making that is informed by a true understanding of the issues, and the consequences affecting the livelihood of B.C.’s forest workers and resource communities dependent on its success for their ongoing sustainability.

It’s time to stop talking at each other and start talking to each other.

Bob Brash, executive director

Truck Loggers Association of BC