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

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor delivering “virtual” State of the City Address on Tuesday. (Screen shot)
Surrey Mayor says city is ‘earning accolades from near and far’

Doug McCallum delivered his second State of the City Address on Tuesday since being elected in 2018

North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex. (Photo: larkgroup.com)
North Surrey rink, Newton playground earn B.C. excellence awards

Awards presented by BC Recreation and Parks Association

Delta council began with an Indigenous land acknowledgement for the first time on Monday, May 10, 2021.
Delta council opens first meeting with Indigenous land acknowledgement

Acknowledgment will be read at the start of each council/committee meeting and City of Delta event

Surrey Fire Service battled a fire at an apartment building in Fleetwood late Friday night (May 14), near 84th Avenue and 160th Street. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey firefighters collecting donations for people displaced by Fleetwood apartment fire

Fleetwood BIA, community association also band together for donations, help

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Cat who chases away coyote asked to join Port Moody, Vancouver police 

Caught on camera Friday, the black cat jumps out from under a parked car and runs the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A thunderstorm, with lightning, pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fires

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit released a poster Tuesday, May 18 featuring the names and photos of more suspects involved in the Lower Mainland gang conflict.
Police issue warning for 8 more men involved in Lower Mainland gang conflict

B.C.’s gang task force says it’s expecting ‘violence to continue and escalate’

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

Vincent Doumeizel, senior advisor at the United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, pulls up some sugar kelp seaweed off the French coast in April 2020. He was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival. (Vincent Doumeizel/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Most Read