Forestry our greatest legacy

MLA Donna Barnett, in her column, highlights how strong and valuable B.C.'s forest industry is.

The Cariboo-Chilcotin has certainly felt the effects of the mountain pine beetle outbreak. Over the last 13 years, the outbreak has affected an estimated 18.8 million hectares of forest in our province. At times this haunting truth is the focal point of B.C. forestry discussions.

Sometimes we forget that B.C. forestry is, and will continue to be, our greatest legacy.

Sept. 18 to 24 is National Forestry Week and it is our opportunity to encourage greater awareness and recognize the importance of Canada’s forests to our nation and province.

Our forestry sector is a major contributor to the economy — accounting for more than 53,000 direct jobs which support families all around the province. Forest product exports totaled $9.95 billion in 2011 — a 31 per cent increase from the low point in 2009.

B.C. produces more lumber certified to environmental standards than any other region in the world, and we have 53 million hectares certified to one of three internationally recognized sustainable forest management certification standards.

Not only that, but British Columbia plants an average of 200 million seedlings each year and is on track to plant the seven-billionth seedling in spring 2013. That’s a silviculture record we can be proud of.

B.C. forests are the livelihood of many families, and they’re also our most prized playgrounds. British Columbia’s forests are managed for a multitude of values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, cultural heritage and recreation, to name just a few.

With more than 1,200 recreation sites and 800 trails around the province, why not get out there and connect with our magnificent land while the weather’s still warm?

Happy National Forestry Week!

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

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