Although fires and beetles were a major factor in damaged forests, Wildsight says a lack of management played the leading role.
Wildsight is an organization dedicated to protecting lands and forests and says fires and pine beetles aren’t to blame for years of forest decay but it’s poor forest management by the B.C. government over the last 20 years.
Wildsight’sConservation Director John Bergenske says a prime issue is that the last B.C. government eliminated appurtenance, which required companies to operate mills and provide regional employment in order to harvest the province’s timber.
“The previous provincial government also changed forestry legislation so that the Ministry of Forests no longer has to approve a company’s cutting plans, effectively turning oversight of BC’s forests over to industry, without a watchdog looking out for community interests or our environment,” said Bergenske
He says this left the harvesting of lands in the hands of a few major companies who processed hundreds of logging truckloads a day. “The goal is to supply cheap two-by-fours to a global market—and that means endless boom and bust cycles,” said Bergenske.
He believes this is what caused sawmill shutdowns and closures in B.C.
Bergenske did shine a light on a positive step the B.C. legislature took in passing Bill 22, an amendment to the Forest Act, which allows the Minister of Forest, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development to step in to stop the sale of forest tenure (rights to log on provincial lands) that is not in the public interest.
After Canfor’s recent shutdown of their Vavenby mill, they have arranged a pending sale of their forest license in that area for $60 million dollars to Interfor, who plan to ship raw logs out of the region. “BC’s decision on this sale under Bill 22 will be the first big test of the government’s resolve to regain control of our communities’ forests,” said Bergenske.
At this time, both the Forests and Range Practices Act (FRPA) and the Private Managed Forest Land Program (PMFLP) are up for review and are currently in public comment periods until the end of mid-July.
Visit engage.gov.bc.ca to give feedback on the state of forestry regulation across the province. Submissions are open until July 15 for the Forest and Range Practices Act, and until July 22 for the review of the Private Managed Forest Land Program.