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 organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

Most Read