Will the Minister pause harvesting in BC’s old growth and change the Forest & Range Practices Act?

Today I asked the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development if he will introduce the promised reforms to Forests and Range Practices Act by this fall session. I also asked the Minister again if government will pause logging in old-growth ecosystems at the highest risk until the promised old growth strategy is in place.

Reforms to the Forest and Range Practices Act are absolutely essential to begin to shifting B.C.'s forestry industry towards sustainable management. And we need to immediately pause logging in our critical old growth areas while a strategy for science-based old growth management across B.C. is developed - I had hoped to get a clear yes or no answer from the Minister today.


[Transcript]

FOREST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AND SUSTAINABILITY

A. Olsen:

I think it's important to get on the record that the $5 billion that was approved was approved by every member of this House. It was a multipartisan effort to ensure the people of British Columbia were supported during this COVID-19 crisis.

This government has promised to bring in reforms to the Forest and Range Practices Act that governs how forestry is done in British Columbia. The regulations and legislation that govern forestry in B.C. are entirely focused on maximizing timber supply. Values like biodiversity, water quality and wildlife can all be managed for, yes, but only without unduly reducing the supply of timber. This fundamentally undermines our ability to manage forests and our forestry industry sustainably.

Reforms are absolutely essential to begin to shift our management regime away from an exclusive focus on timber supply to the detriment of all other values and towards sustainable management of our forest for all the values they hold. Yet, so far, the government won't bring them in.

My question is to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Will he introduce the necessary changes to the Forests and Range Practices Act by this fall session to begin the shift towards more sustainable management in our forests?

Hon. D. Donaldson:

Thank you to the interim Leader of the Third Party for the question. I'm happy to discuss our plans around forestry reform. We're committed to reforming the forest sector and that's to improve public trust in how we sustainably manage forests — public trust that was damaged under the previous government. We're committed to ensuring that the publicly held natural resource, the forests, benefit first and foremost communities and workers.

We've taken policy, regulation and legislative actions in the three years we've been government. We've created fibre recovery zones so that less waste is left on the forest floor after harvesting. We focused on increasing value over volume out of the forest with our mass timber initiatives. We've ensured that forest stewardship plans must be updated at minimum every five years. We've also embarked on five forest landscape planning pilot projects around the province.

We are committed to introducing more positive changes, including legislation, as a government and as the unpredictable events created by COVID-19 permit.

Mr. Speaker:

Leader Third Party on a supplemental.

PROTECTION OF OLD-GROWTH FORESTS

A. Olsen:

Thank you to the minister for the response. Working around the edges is not enough on this. Forestry in B.C. is broken, and it needs fundamental reform. Over the past number of decades, we've seen the loss of tens of thousands of forestry jobs as well as the continued liquidation of some of our most pristine highly productive old forests. Yet this government is delaying bringing in the basic, preliminary reforms to legislation to start us down a better path.

We've spent this past week asking the government what steps it's taking to reform the industry, protect old growth and support workers in communities to transition. While the minister has acknowledged some of the problems before us, nothing has changed on the ground, and we don't see a plan for the future. In fact, a friend recently recounted to me that he personally witnessed recently old growth being "hammered on our coast." The longer that this government delays on changing course, the worse the outcomes in our forests and forestry-dependent communities are.

Once again, my question is to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development. We've heard lots of words in the last couple of days. I'm looking for just one. Will his government pause logging in old-growth ecosystems at the highest risk until a plan is in place, yes or no?

Hon. D. Donaldson:

Once again, I am happy to answer questions around the management of the forest resource in the province. Our government is absolutely committed to implementing a new sustainable and comprehensive old-growth management strategy. That's why we commissioned the old growth strategic review. The panel toured the province and provided a very comprehensive report.

As I said in my response to the member's question on this topic on Monday, we've committed to publicly release that report within six months of receiving it. We received it at the beginning of May. We're on track to meet that commitment.

As for any actions that will arise as a result of the report, it's important to remember that the terms of reference clearly outline that we will engage in a government-to-government consultation with First Nations before setting policy direction in response to the report. That's in the spirit of respect. Acting unilaterally without first conducting the government-to-government discussions would not be respectful.


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11,340 other subscribers

3 comments On Will the Minister pause harvesting in BC’s old growth and change the Forest & Range Practices Act?

  • What I am reading is delay, delay, delay. We public must wait 6 months, until end of October. Then, I interpret that the government will make no policy decisions until consulting with First Nations. How long will this take, anywhere from months to years. I have questions about the old growth classification, it seems in the review there are only two types of forest, old growth and other. I see mentioned the Forest and Range Practices Act. Will This will be the one that may be modified to account changes in practices in “old-growth”? I have a suspicion that the whole thing will come back again to saving a number of sites that have one or a few old, usually giant trees.
    I have a book from Sweden called ‘Greener Forests’ (National Board of Forests, 1999). There is good information on the decision making process which should go on to decide how various stands should be treated: 1) Which stands have high production values? 2) Which stands should have high environmental values? 3) Which different management goals can I have for my stand? Would you be interested to borrow it for a short time?

  • Thanks, Adam, for pressuring the Minister & NDP to save our few ancient survivors. His non-answers are more than a little disappointing, but totally unsurprising – the NDP still sings the same tune since long before Clayoquat’s War in the Woods.

    It must be supremely frustrating in your position; please do know that your efforts to hold power to account are very much appreciated. I hope we BC Greens will mobilise when the strategic review report is released in November….

  • It is not just the FRPA tha needs amending Adam! It is also the Private Managed Forest Lands Act!!
    This is the one that is killing our communities on the Island!!

Leave a Reply

Site Footer

© 2020 Adam Olsen. All Rights Reserved.