Rural B.C. is full of forestry-dependent communities — many of them right here in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. But these communities and First Nations were given a shock last Tuesday when this NDP government announced it would be implementing a moratorium on logging in 2.6 million hectares of forests in B.C.
It’s a decision that was made without doing a complete socioeconomic analysis of its possible impacts and without proper consultation with First Nations. And it is sure to have serious ripple effects for all those who depend on forests to put food on the table for their families.
We know that forestry creates the best building material, and some of the most renewable and environmentally friendly products in the world. Our forests, if we steward them well, can be an important part of addressing the challenges that this province, and the world, currently face.
We must find the right balance between robust biodiversity management and the social and economic well-being of the hard-working families in resource-dependent communities, in addition to ensuring we carry out proper consultation with Indigenous communities. The fact that with this decision the NDP is only giving First Nations 30 days to consult on such a significant policy change is simply unacceptable.
It’s evidence that this government continues to make rash decisions without properly consulting those who will be most impacted, and it gives people zero faith in the NDP’s ability to navigate the forestry file. In fact, we’ve seen nothing from them in their more than four years in power that inspires confidence they will make the right decision for all those who depend on the industry.
Right now, foresters and mill workers throughout rural B.C. have no idea what the NDP’s plan will mean for their community and livelihoods. They are scared and frustrated with a government that has not considered them in its decision-making. It’s time for this government to provide real leadership and ensure that our forestry-dependent communities and families have the support they need both now and in the future.