The second set of questions the Tribune asked the candidates running in the provincial election is about their stance on forestry as follows:
How would your government protect and enhance forests in B.C. for future generations, while maintaining and creating new forest industry jobs?
What is your position on raw log exports?
Answers are as follows:
MLA Bob Simpson, Indepentent (incumbent)
We need to conduct a comprehensive and independent review of the state of our forests and forest policy.
This means more than simply counting trees – we need a cumulative impacts and climate change impacts inventory and analysis of the entire public land base before investing public money in tree planting.
We also need a fast-tracked independent review of forest policy and the establishment of a provincial chief forester as an independent officer of the BC Legislature in order to protect our public forests from the four-year political cycle and start managing it for future generations.
I participated in a government committee that examined the potential to develop a bio-economy in B.C.
That committee’s recommended action plan is available for the next government to implement. This would create a whole new forest economy in B.C. with long-term sustainable jobs in a renewable resource sector.
Most of the so-called “raw logs” being exported from B.C. are from private lands and under federal jurisdiction. Therefore we need to partner with the federal government to restrict the flow of these logs from B.C.
We also need a strengthened Private Managed Forest Land Act to ensure the forests on these private lands are being managed sustainably.
The government cannot “ban” log exports as that would shut down what’s left of the coastal forest industry and result in the loss of thousands of harvesting and hauling jobs and put what’s left of the coastal pulp industry at risk.
Instead, the government must work with the coastal industry to implement an escalating tax on log exports over the next three to five years and use the money generated from that tax to fund re-investment in coastal manufacturing.
If current lumber prices hold, this is an ideal time to revitalize the coast industry and maintain the harvesting/hauling jobs while creating new ones in the manufacturing sector.
Duncan Barnett, New Democratic Party, Cariboo North
In mid-April, NDP forestry critic Norm Macdonald visited my campaign office in Quesnel for the second time to outline the five-point New Democrat plan to grow the forest industry and improve the health of B.C. forests.
In the Cariboo, healthy forests mean healthy companies and healthy communities.
Under the BC Liberals, we’ve lost thousands of jobs in forestry and fallen short on maintaining the health of our forests.
That’s why a New Democrat government will implement a $100 million, five-year strategic and operational plan to revitalize our forest industry.
We will undertake the inventory work necessary to manage the timber supply and invest in the resource by doubling the number of seedlings planted on Crown land to 50 million a year.
We will see that government has the capacity to undertake climate change research and necessary land use planning.
We will also provide more support for communities suffering from timber shortages due to pine beetle.
The Cariboo has world class forest companies. We will work with them and other stakeholders to fully utilize our forest resources, reduce raw log exports and increase international markets for our value-added wood products so that B.C. logs create more B.C. jobs
Coralee Oakes, Liberal Party, Cariboo North
In recent years, we have been faced with the devastation to our forests from the mountain pine beetle epidemic and we must look at increasing regeneration.
In our government’s budget we will be planting 22.7 million seedlings, a 56 per cent increase from last year.
We are also implementing the 10-year $80 million forest inventory plan to ensure 35 million hectares are inventoried in mountain pine beetle affected priority areas.
This inventory will be used to assess forest condition forecasts, timber supply analysis, silviculture, timber harvest planning, habitat mapping, wildlife risk assessment and biodiversity assessments.
We need to be adaptive and better utilize the fibre that is accrued by our forests through bio-energy, wood pellets and finger-jointed lumber.
A key element to the future of our forest industry is being able to take advantage of market upturns and remain competitive when markets are soft as set out in the BC Jobs Plan Forest Sector Strategy.
This strategy has resulted in keeping several of our region’s mills open.
Exports to China are up 1,500 per cent since 2011, and we are expanding into India and South Korea. We will continue to travel overseas to open new markets.
Our preference is to have logs milled here at home.
The reality is that much of the log exports are derived from private land and isolated communities on the coast of British Columbia.
These exports are what provide the jobs to support the families of these British Columbians. We are committed to ensuring an approach that meets the needs of both domestic mills and the economy in this province.