“The new future of old forests in BC” Report (https://tinyurl.com/3fjudkms) submitted to Government called for a paradigm shift in the practice of BC forest stewardship. Is addressing the recommendations really a paradigm shift or part of the continued development of the 1970 originated model? It is critical that we are confident a major change is required as the statement generates divisiveness within the community concerned about BC forests. This is discussed in Forest stewardship-need for paradigm shift
Government’s “Modernization of Forest Policy” initiative has a major deficiency due to the adopted process. There is a lack of clear, high-level statements from Government relative to an infrastructure framework that guides the process. Incorporating the recommendations presented in Forest renewal vision framework-action plan will go a long way in making a correction to reflect the demands of the 21st Century.
A comparison of the HFHC recommended 21st Century integrated forest sector vision items (https://www.bcforestconversation.com/bc-forest-renewal-vision-framework-update/) with the forest related mandate items provided to each Minister by the Premier is in Minister mandates vs integrated 21st century forest sector vision. Although the direction would contribute to the recommended HFHC vision, they lack details and integration. Government still fails to provide legally binding forest resources management principles and vision for the 21st Century forest. Also, there is no mention of increasing community knowledge related to forests, forest sector, etc. or re-building the forest resources research capacity.
BC Government is proposing actions to renew the forest sector. A BC forest renewal vision framework-Nov update provides a recommended framework for the 21st Century, including recommended actions. It includes maintaining the positive components of the current forest sector and adding those to reflect the issues and challenges expected in the next Century.
The forest industry wants fibre security and proposes establishment of a Working Forest designation on a portion of the BC Crown land base. This is a controversial proposal that has been rejected in the past. However, the fibre security objective is sound. A Working forest-alternative approach is proposed while still contributing to community resiliency and consistent with the BC forest renewal vision framework.
Government has embarked upon the Revitalization/Renewal of the BC forest sector. The BC forest renewal vision article provides a rationale, recommendations and implementation suggestions for a Provincial Forest Renewal Vision. The vision will achieve the Government’s four (4) priority forest renewal goals and provide the infrastructure and necessary strategic regulation and policy actions to move to long-term forest stewardship and create a sustainable wood manufacturing sector that fully utilizes the available BC forest fibre. Seven (7) infrastructure recommendations and twelve (12) priority strategic regulation and policy recommendations are provided. The framework vision is intended to both update the current system and more effectively maintain and capitalize on the BC forest asset and subsequently community resiliency.
The BC Government has repeatedly identified that the forest sector needs to adopt innovative practices in its journey to revitalization. However, their recent change to the Manufactured Forest Products Regulation questions, Is BC Government serious about innovation
Lawyer Jeff Waatainen outlines on page 25 of Bill 22 – Waatainen comments the continued uncertainty created by Bill 22 and the associated Regulation. Not only is the “public interest” test still unclear as outlined previously in Bill 22 – comments but so is the application of the old and new definitions of the other tests “unduly restrict competition” and “detrimental to competition.” Surely Government can clarify these tests and reduce the uncertainty they have generated within the industry, communities and investors. This is not a trivial issue and needs immediate attention.
The “perfect storm” in the forest sector is creating uncertainty and stress within the industry, communities and investors. Government needs to take action to reduce this and provide leadership in moving toward community resiliency. Bill Bourgeois provides an opinion on how this can be done through improving the forest sector regulatory infrastructure in Addressing uncertainty and stress
Minister Donaldson identified Government’s vision for the forest sector in the Spring 2019 issue of the Truck Logger magazine. It is “a forest sector made up of successful and innovative large and small companies that can create and maintain good jobs and generate wealth from our forests to support healthy communities.” There has not been much elaboration on the type of companies. Let’s hope this includes diversification so not all companies are producing traditional commodity or solid wood products. The indication is this could be part of the Minister’s vision. However, it is critical for him to send this message to the forest sector and Ministry staff as not much has been done in this regard over the last couple of years. Maybe the recent re-organization transferring the staff with this file to the Chief Forester’s office will produce positive results.
To provide resiliency to communities we need companies that can bridge the traditional economic cycle of solid wood products mainly destined for housing. Government needs to create an environment to encourage investment in other wood products such as bio-fuels and bio-chemicals. This will require long-term access to fibre. Hopefully the Coast and Interior Forest Sector Revitalization initiatives will include achieving this critical diversification.