Forest, Range & Recreation Resource Analysis Table of Contents

9.2.5 B.C. Forest Renewal Plan

Sustainability requires consideration of ecological, social and economic factors. The Forest Renewal Plan is intended to address all three, especially as they affect forestry-dependent communities. The Forest Renewal Plan is a long-term investment in British Columbia’s forest future and in jobs and communities. It has two major priorities: renewing British Columbia’s forests and increasing the number of jobs and the value extracted from the wood that is harvested.

The Forest Renewal Plan will provide a secure long-term funding base by directing funds derived from increased royalty charges (stumpage) back into the public forest resource. An estimated $450 million in annual revenues (estimated $2 billion over five years) will be generated to support forest renewal activities. Two early priorities of the Forest Renewal Plan are silvicultural enhancement to add value to the resource, and repairing environmental damage (e.g., rehabilitating rivers, streams and watersheds, and restoring hillsides by repairing and removing unused, unnecessary or environmentally unsound roads).

The Forest Renewal Plan includes elements that are designed to develop a stronger value-added sector, to rehabilitate ecologically degraded sites and to increase incremental silviculture, research and training to facilitate the development of a strong value-added, intensive forest management economy.

Specific goals of the Forest Renewal Plan are:

Forest Renewal BC, a new Crown agency, is responsible for implementing the Forest Renewal Plan. Forest Renewal BC’s board of directors, who reflect the partnership of groups with a stake in B.C.’s forest sector, will develop an investment program to achieve the Forest Renewal Plan goals.

9.3 Policy Issues and Implications

The previous sections provided a historical context for the evolution of forest policy in British Columbia, examined the factors motivating current policy development and described the major provincial forestry policy initiatives now underway.

British Columbia has developed a comprehensive program of forestry, land use and environmental initiatives in response to changing values and expectations. These initiatives support an integrated approach to forest management that takes into account a wide range of values — including the maintenance of forest ecosystems — and provides a framework for addressing economic, social and environmental issues.

This section describes several emerging issues likely to have a significant impact on forest policy in the coming years.

9.3.1 The Commitment to Sustainability

The government of British Columbia has made an explicit commitment to sustainable development in forestry through new legislative and policy initiatives and several recent major land use decisions. For example, in its preamble, the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act, passed in the 1994 sitting of the provincial Legislature, commits British Columbia,to the sustainable use of forests through:

Specific measures to protect biodiversity and ensure the sustainability of provincial forests are outlined in the act and its accompanying standards and regulations. Elements of sustainability as identified in the Forest Practices Code are also addressed through the Forest Renewal Plan, the work of the Commission on Resources and Environment, Local Resource Management Planning and the Protected Areas Strategy.

There is broad international agreement that sustainability should embrace social, economic and environmental concerns and that sustainable development includes responsible stewardship of both nature and the economic and social well-being of communities. Accurate reporting on sustainability therefore relies on the development of reliable indicators of aspects of environmental, economic and social well-being and on the availability of data on these topics.

National and international efforts are underway to develop appropriate criteria and indicators for sustainable forestry (see Section 9.4), to monitor the current state of the world’s forests and to develop programs for the certification of forest products. British Columbia is a participant in these efforts and has a particular interest in ensuring that the results reflect the range of management options necessary to manage the variety of natural forest ecosystems found across the province.

British Columbia is also collecting and synthesizing forestry data that may in future be incorporated into sustainability reporting. The 1993 State of the Environment Report for British Columbia,[208] for example, introduced data on some aspects of forestry. The Ministry of Forests is developing a State of the Forests Report and, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, a companion report on old growth.

9.3.2 Economic Restructuring

The forest industry in British Columbia has evolved through a period of expanding wood supply. The timber supply in British Columbia, however, is predicted to remain stable or decline over the next few years. Nevertheless, jobs and revenues from the forest resource will continue to play a major role in B.C.’s economy. The challenge is to adapt to these changes while ensuring economic and community stability.

The provincial government recognizes that there is a need to invest in the forest resource to provide economic stability to the province. Strategies include the development and enhancement of markets closer to home, through value-added remanufacturing and other secondary industries. As well, the Forest Renewal Plan includes elements to help develop a stronger value-added sector, rehabilitate ecologically degraded sites and increase incremental silviculture and training, to facilitate the evolution to a more value-added, intensive forest management economy. These initiatives are intended to ensure economic and community stability.

9.3.3 Tenure

The existing tenure system in British Columbia reflects historical developments in the forest industry (see Section 9.1). It developed during an era when timber supply appeared unlimited, and British Columbia’s primary goals were industrial expansion and the maximization of timber harvest levels.

The present situation is dramatically different because of a static or diminishing timber supply. Employment in field forestry, logging and manufacturing has fallen compared to the 1970s, and there is increasing public pressure on government and industry to encourage more value-added and secondary manufacturing.

Although the British Columbia government has begun to examine tenure informally, its current emphasis is on resolving issues of forest stewardship and land use planning through development of the Forest Practices Code, Protected Areas Strategy, Commission on Resources and Environment and the Timber Supply Review. In light of new or emerging objectives suggested by a range of interests, a reassessment of the existing tenure system may be timely. These objectives include:

9.3.4 Public Participation

The mandate for forest policy development in British Columbia rests with the provincial government. Until recently, industry was the most significant non-governmental participant in the forest policy development process. As public interest in forest policy developed, so did public participation. The 1979 Ministry of Forests Act specifically acknowledged the role of the public in providing input to resource planning processes. Until recently, such input was generally confined to reviewing plans and proposals and offering comments to ministry staff.

Over the last decade, improved information networks and increasing public interest in land and resource management issues have opened up the forest policy-making process. While formal responsibility still rests with the Ministry of Forests, in recent years other government ministries — including the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks and the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture — have been vested with some forest-related policy development responsibilities.

A range of interests — including those of First Nations, environmental organizations, academics, local and international governments and the public (both domestic and international) — are now more fully represented in the policy development process. Local and sectoral representatives participate on provincial committees and in multi-stakeholder decision-making processes such as round tables.

Government has encouraged public participation through numerous recent initiatives including the development of a management strategy for old-growth forests, Land and Resource Management Planning and the Forest Practices Code. This trend towards public participation in government forest management decision-making is likely to continue.

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