Bill Bourgeois provides his opinion on recent forest Job loss and impact on families and recommends an action model to move toward minimizing future forest sector losses through community diversification.
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.
The NS forest sector has “…been planning the change for several months” prior to the announcement of the closure of their pulp mill https://tinyurl.com/ybjxamle The plan is for actions innovative to the normal Sector way of operating. These are consistent with many proposed actions within BC. BC is being confronted with a timber supply shortage. Are there lessons to be learned from NS?
John Innes, Dean, Faculty of Forestry, UBC, says the BC forest sector “is facing a crisis” and “a clear, insightful and long-term plan needs to be developed” by the BC Government. The call to action in dealing with the crisis is not new. It was identified in the Healthy Forest-Healthy Communities dialogue of 2011-2012 (https://www.bcforestconversation.com/restoring-bcs-forest-legacy/). Government did nothing from this point until 2017. Is Government doing enough now to deal with the situation which has become more critical?
Building Community Resiliency
A Letter to Minister Donaldson re community diversification was sent identifying the opportunity to utilize logging residue rather than burn it. At the same time increasing community economic development and diversification and reducing GHG emissions.
The Canadian Forestry Service climate change researchers have evaluated several potential Forest management strategies-CO2 emissions mitigation The article provides ideas related to full utilization of forest fibre, community diversification and emissions reduction but some actions may not be currently practical or economic in BC.
The Victoria Times editorial https://tinyurl.com/y7oetxne suggests more money is needed to treat forest-community interface areas from wildfire. Although this is correct, the cost is high but could be reduced if Government was to change some policies regarding harvesting of merchantable trees within these areas. These changes would generate revenue and off-set treatment costs while at the same time protect the interface area and contribute to long-term forest stewardship. These would also generate jobs and economic benefits for the community. The barriers to these benefits are well know within the industry and wildfire experts. Government just needs to listen!
The use of wood waste from forest harvesting or wood processing can have a greater value than its use for bio-energy as outlined in Logging residue-opportunities lost. Washington State University has developed a new technology for the use of lignin (a by product of wood processing and bio-chemical digestion technologies) for use in car manufacturing https://tinyurl.com/ya49amdb. Other research is on-going in Alberta in this regard to replace metals and plastics in car bodies. This is the type of technology we need in BC to utilize wood residue and increase community economics and diversification. Government and industry must work to remove the barriers to the encouragement of investors in use of these technologies and move communities forward in achieving resiliency.
The Corewood Sawmill in Houston (Tahtsa Group) https://tinyurl.com/y78klznu champions a cluster partnership with forest companies to fully utilize available wood fibre and boost the local economy. This is consistent with the recommendations in Logging residue-opportunities lost Well Done!
Using the progress in implementing the recommendations from the Healthy Forests-Healthy Communities Initiative dialogue, Moving toward community resiliency-specific actions identifies steps by Government, industry and communities that can be taken immediately to move along paths to long-term forest stewardship and community resiliency.