Wildsight officials said B.C.’s new forest management strategy could mean a brighter future for the province’s ecosystems.
Premier David Eby and Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston announced changes to part of the Forest and Range Practices Act which kept lumber supply the priority in land management.
The environmental group said this change is welcomed after decades of prioritizing timber supply over the health of B.C.’s forests.
“I am optimistic that this is the beginning of a new era in forest management,” said 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.”
This change, according to Wildsight, will shift from an industry-centred plan to one with an emphasis on ecological health.
“There will have to be considerations for the values of the forest, as well as wildlife that rely on forest right up front and without the restrictions,” said Bergenske. “For example, with wildlife, if that interferes with the timber supply, they will have to be accommodating for that.”
“In the past, any kind of change that would have more than 5 per cent impact on the timber supply was basically not allowed to move forward,” continued Bergenske.
Wildsight said the move to invest in value-added lumber products and shift focus on ecosystem sustainability will help remove the dependence on clear-cutting and logging old-growth forests.
“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,” explained 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.”