One of the key issues not covered in my column last week on the government’s forest intentions paper was the ongoing harvest of ancient forest (old growth – large trees) with the emphasis on what it means to future generations.
The topic is introduced in the 28-page report titled Intentions Paper – Modernizing Forest Policy – Setting the Intention and Leading Forest Sector Transition.
“The Province also committed to engaging with Indigenous leaders, environmental groups, labour, industry and communities to build a plan to protect B.C.’s ancient forests for future generations and this work is underway. Since Sept. 2020, government has taken the following actions … ” notes the report.
As a first step, B.C., in collaboration with Indigenous Nations, immediately deferred the harvesting of 196,000 hectares of old growth in nine areas and the Special Tree Protection Regulation which protects up to 1,500 exceptionally large, individual trees and one hectare surrounding each tree. The paper then goes on to lay out the mid-and long-term approach to manage ancient forests.
While I can accept the approach taken, it will be a challenge based on the events so far this year such as ongoing pressures of the pandemic, what appears to be another 2017/18 wildfire season, record-breaking drought conditions and forest pests attacks along with political unrest around the world.
The objective of protecting ancient forest for future generations and the corporate agenda of providing jobs and housing for these same generations (along with making a profit) will be a challenge with the yearly addition of 83 million people to our blue planet which is facing climate change issues.
Trying to not end on a negative note, what can we do as individuals or small groups?
Be careful about fire safety while camping or around your home or recreation properties. If you have not already done so, review the fire prevention measures around your home, get a copy of the government information about fire proofing your property and working with the government plans on the adjoining Crown land. Report individuals who are operating drones around wildfires which has recently caused the restriction of aircraft trying to fight wildfires.
Also be aware when recreating on or near lakes where aircraft fighting wildfires are trying to fill up with water.
You can also research and support energy-efficient home construction or renovations. If, for example, the structures destroyed in Lytton could be replaced by new technology which could be more fire resistant, energy efficient and provide long-term affordable and comfortable housing a tragedy could be replaced with long-term blessings for some people. Support the use of wood in the construction of new houses, apartments and commercial buildings. Note some of the examples in the wood bridges and multi-story buildings (mass timber) in the B.C. government intentions paper described above.
Do your self a favour and spend more time away from your electronic devices and enjoy the forests and natural areas in your neighbourhood. Support and or assist some of those enthusiasts who are spending time cleaning up their (your) communities. Practice the three Rs when purchasing new items – and follow restrictions of water use during warm weather.
Become informed about some of the latest government, industry , community and individual initiatives and programs that are intended to improve our rather sad state of affairs on a variety of areas. Recommend and support individuals who are demonstrating above average community support projects. Use your individual skills and interests to improve your lifestyle and encourage those around you.
Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.