After decades of forest management that has prioritized timber supply over ecosystems and the health of British Columbia’s forests, Premier David Eby announced a transformational shift today.
Alongside Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston, Eby announced the revocation of the phrase in the Forest and Range Practices Act that had enshrined timber supply as the province’s priority in land use management. This priority on timber supply meant that the protection of all other values, like clean water, ecosystem health and wildlife, could not “unduly impact timber supply” – this clause has now been deleted from the Forest Practice and Planning Regulations.
“I am optimistic that this is the beginning of a new era in forest management,” says John Bergenske, Wildsight’s Conservation Director and a member of the Ministers’ Wildlife Advisory Council. “The Province’s renewed commitment to the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review is encouraging, yet we have a long way to go to change a paradigm that has led to ecosystems and wildlife populations in peril across the province.”
The announcement focused on the change from industry-driven forest planning to Forest Landscape Planning that will be led by the Province in co-operation with Indigenous Peoples. A conservation funding mechanism will provide help to move forestry from a focus on clearcut logging to one that prioritizes ecosystem health and invests in value-added uses of forest resources, moving away from dependence on cutting old growth forests and recognizing the importance of forests in sequestering carbon.
“The time for change is now. Announced changes are going to take time, and the Province must act immediately to defer any further losses to old growth forests and follow through on its commitment to implementation of the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review,” says Bergenske. “Making biodiversity and ecosystem health the priority in resource decision making is a game changer that will benefit biodiversity, water, wildlife and all British Columbians.”
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