Thursday, June 13, 2019


Old Growth Forests
One of the many things that connects me to my constituency is shared values and the passion that we have for issues that arise from those values. Saanich Southites are an informed, passionate and engaged constituency of people. It's why I feel at home here, it's why I connect with this community so deeply.

Many of our shared values are around equality, dignity and respect. Respect for each other, and for our earth.

It is with these shared values as guides that we, as government, create policies and make decisions that affect an entire province of families, and ultimately generations of people. It is these shared values that we hold dear in our approach to protecting biodiversity and managing our amazing old growth forests. Values that we must balance as we care for our earth and while we ensure that workers and communities are supported.

And, Saanich South, I have heard from many of you that you are concerned about this balance. I hear you when you say that you understand that we have an industry, communities and families that have been neglected for far too long and need our support, and, as well, I hear that you treasure our old-growth forests, as I do, and that we have a duty to protect the precious bio-regions that we are the custodians of.

I have heard you, and we're still listening.

Our government is working to protect much of the old growth on the Coast, in the Great Bear Rainforest and on Vancouver Island. On the Island there are about 520,000 hectares of old growth forests that will not be logged (the equivalent of over 1,700 Cathedral Groves). Our old growth forests are protected in parks and other protected areas, wildlife habitat areas and old growth management areas. Old growth management areas are designated specifically to protect the biodiversity found in old growth ecosystems.

The previous BC Liberal government cut the Forest Service, and allowed the export of raw logs to skyrocket. Part of our strategy includes increasing monitoring, modernizing management practices, and ensuring we are getting more value out of every log. The forest sector is vital to the economy of Vancouver Island, generating more than 24,000 direct jobs and $3.1 billion in gross domestic product. We have just seen several hundred workers lose their jobs in the Interior, in part due to lack of logs. A moratorium would ultimately lead to more job loss on Vancouver Island. Ending logging in all old growth forests on Vancouver Island would shut down the forest industry. Lumber from old growth trees is used to make value-added wood products, such as doors, mouldings, flooring, and decking. Products made from old-growth timber are valued for their strength (tight grain) and beauty.

We believe we can find a balance between protecting the health and sustainability of our forests, and ensuring a robust forest industry that supports good-paying jobs for people across BC.

BC Timber Sales has plans to log less than 900 hectares of old growth forests on Vancouver Island this year.  The estimate of 8,800 hectares released by Sierra Club is not accurate.  BC Timber Sales has published preliminary maps in areas they intend to log over the next 10 to 15 years.  These are NOT final cutblocks or timber sale licences. The actual areas to be logged will be much smaller as plans are developed.

In BC, we plant three trees for each one that is harvested - and young trees can often take up carbon faster than mature stands. Over time, companies will need to transition to second-growth stands, but that can’t happen overnight. To begin with, there is limited second-growth available on the island, and harvesting those stands too early would mean in the next decade or two we would be facing timber shortages again. A second consideration is that most mills on the island are set up to process larger logs. Re-tooling those mills to process smaller logs would be costly and can’t be done overnight.

We're working on it, and it takes time. 

While ensuring supply is one component of stabilizing the economic situation, our government is also looking at changes to practices that will make better use of materials. This could make hundreds of thousands or even millions of cubic metres of fibre available to small producers and pulp mills - creating and sustaining small producer jobs.The San Group has communicated its plan to build a new mill in the Port Alberni area, which would process second growth logs.

Achieving that balance is key.

Right now we are working on a new old growth strategy. Initial amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act passed in the spring. These amendments protect endangered plant communities from logging. Public engagement on a second set of changes to the act began in late May, with the amendments likely to be introduced in 2020.

We want to hear from you! 

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is conducting a Review of the Private Managed Forest Land Program (also known as the Managed Forest Program). The review is one of several policy reforms announced as part of the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative.

The review will examine how well the Private Managed Forest Land Program is meeting its goals to:
  • encourage private landowners to manage their lands for long-term forest production, and 
  • encourage sustainable forest management practices, including the protection of key public environmental values.
You can participate in a couple of ways - an online survey or you can request to make a written submission.

The opportunity for public comment ends July 9, 2019
(it has been extended)
Input received from this engagement process is an important part of the ministry’s review of the program. To determine where the program is most effective, and if improvements are needed, the ministry wishes to understand the different views and concerns of all British Columbians. The ministry plans to develop recommendations for fall 2019.
To provide input:
We're also reaching out to the forest and range industry, communities and organizations for their feedback on how we improve legislation on sustainably managing our forests and rangelands.

The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) governs the sustainable management of B.C.’s public forest and range resources. It covers planning and practices that protect environmental resources and public safety, as well as public oversight and administrative fairness for those who hold rights to forest and range resources.
Together, the Act and its regulations are the foundation for competitive forest and ranching industries, partnerships with Indigenous peoples, and stability for forestry and ranching-dependent communities.
We want to improve the legislation to ensure it will continue to sustainably manage our forests and rangelands. Guiding principles for proposed changes include putting the resiliency of the land first, public trusts, reconciliation with Indigenous Nations, scientific knowledge as well as flexibility.

Forest and range industry, communities and organizations are encouraged to provide written comments through stakeholder submission to engagefrpa@gov.bc.ca 

Feedback will be accepted until July 15, 2019 at 4:00 p.m.

Feedback from the engagement process will inform changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations that are planned over the next two years. A What We Heard Report will summarize comments received and be publicly available in fall 2019. We will post a link to that report as it becomes available this fall.

I invite you to visit the engagement site for more info on how to provide input: HERE.

Your government is trying to achieve a balance that works for all British Columbians - based on our shared values. We know there is still a lot of work to do, and we’re committed to moving forward and doing more to protect our old growth forests. 

Please stay engaged, informed, and in touch.