Over the last 20 years, British Columbians have witnessed two starkly different approaches to managing the province’s forest resources — a focus on forest stewardship (1990s) with a series of initiatives emphasizing land-use planning, greater public involvement in forest management decisions and increased public investments in the forests followed by 12 years of a focus on short-term economics with reduced resourcing for long-term maintenance of the forest asset.
Some complain the first approach was far too prescriptive and amounted to regulatory overkill, while critics of the latter say government is capitulating to entrenched business interests. Either way the critics have their points.
If both approaches had or have their faults, where should we go from here? We must ensure the result will be healthy forests to lay the foundation for healthy, resilient communities.
Many Interior communities are confronting a mounting “timber supply” crisis. The fact a shortage in commercially desirable trees nears is incontestable. However, does a recently unveiled response by government make sense?
It considers easing or eliminating various non-timber resource-based constraints on logging in an effort to soften the economic blow, but only to a relatively small extent according to a recent government staff analysis, and at what future cost? Could temporarily holding onto some jobs now by propping up unsustainable logging rates mean even greater environmental and economic pain in the years ahead?
Quite frankly the process places the cart before the horse. We need to focus on how do we achieve healthy forests and healthy communities?
A 10-year investment strategy is required that includes initially a provincial forest vision, a mechanism for communities to be involved in forest decisions and a commitment by government to provide stable funding for inventories, research and monitoring.
Healthy Forests-Healthy Communities