VANCOUVER, B.C. — A report written by a former B.C. Forestry Minister for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is calling on the Province to dramatically change the way the forestry industry is managed and governed if it hopes to reverse troubling trends.
Bob Williams, who served as the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources from 1972 to 1975 under NDP Premier Dave Barrett, says that forestry-related decision making needs to be taken away from large multinational forestry corporations and given to regional planning councils. Williams says in his report that a failure to reverse the trend of exporting millions of raw logs will cause forest industry jobs continue to decline, and the industry’s share of provincial GDP to shrink.
“We have an industry that for the most part is in the cheap commodity lumber business,” Williams says in the report. “We have pretended that we’ve developed a scientifically sound base for sustainable forestry practice. We’ve pretended we have a successful licensing and cutting program, and we’ve pretended that we get full value for our trees with a competitive system for selling timber and cutting rights. On all of these points, and more, we have failed,”
He adds that the province’s forestry industry can benefit residents and communities if managed regionally rather than by corporations.
In recent years, Williams toured forestry communities across the province with two registered professional foresters and a land planning researcher to examine the state of B.C.’s forests and speak with people who took control of local forests and forestry operations. After these visits, the group says it determined that regional-based forestry with local input and management would best serve BC’s public forests and communities surrounding them.
Williams is recommending that a BC Forest Charter be passed by the Legislature with an overall vision for the province that includes sustainability principles, standards, and goals. He also suggests creating an independent Forester General to work with regional foresters on local land planning processes.
Williams’ full report can be read below.