Back to the Forest Practices Branch
|F orests were once viewed as a storehouse of raw material for economic development. We now understand that forests are complex ecosystems that must be treated carefully and skillfully. Society is demanding a higher level of resource stewardship to conserve and protect a wide array of forest-related values.|
The demand for forest products and the associated economic benefits from harvesting timber continues as well. These benefits include direct and indirect jobs, government revenues, and a variety of forest products that are part of our everyday lives.
Increasingly it is being realized that both economic and environmental factors must be accounted for in forest management. Forest products purchasing decisions in the domestic and international market places are being influenced by demands for good environmental stewardship. The forest industry now understands that their long term prosperity depends more on environmentally sensitive harvesting and less volume of harvest.
The new Forest Practices Code will provide for increased accountability for environmental stewardship. It includes a requirement that the silvicultural system used must be the most ecologically appropriate for the site.
On many sites in B.C., clearcuts, especially those that incorporate some tree retention and are an appropriate size, are ecologically appropriate. The Forest Practices Code addresses the poor design of past clearcuts by strictly limiting cutblock size, requiring riparian reserve strips along streams, allowing for irregular edges that duplicate natural patterns, and restricting harvesting on unstable soils on steep slopes. However, clearcutting can no longer be used as a universal practice. The ecology of some sites, and the social values placed upon them, require quite different silvicultural systems.
The Silvicultural Systems Program is a long-term, province wide program of research, development, demonstration and extension of the full range of silvicultural systems. The objectives of the program are to improve our understanding of alternatives to conventional clearcutting and to identify their ecological, operational and socio-economic implications and opportunities.
The goal of the program is to provide procedures and guidelines that can be applied on a site-specific basis for implementing alternatives to conventional clearcutting.
Past and Current Practices
W hen logging began in British Columbia in the late nineteenth century, our natural resources seemed virtually inexhaustable. The overriding concern was to harvest timber in the most economical fashion. Reforestation, aesthetics and protection of fish and wildlife habitat were not issues of great concern.
Over the past decade, greater emphasis has been placed on other resource values. Fish, wildlife, water, forage, recreation, aesthetics and biodiversity are considered in harvesting plans.
Significant effort has alredy been devoted to modifying how clearcutting is applied. Recent rends include the use of: