It’s time to rethink forest policy

This year marks the 100th anniversary of B.C.’s Forest Act. One might think that a century of regulating some of the most productive forests in the Northern Hemisphere would provide us with forest management policies able to withstand any crisis. After all, forests are the ultimate sustainable natural resource, a legacy that has provided our shelter, food and cultural identity for generations.

But today, our B.C. forests and the economies that rely upon them face new challenges that drive us to seek direction from the forest owners, the people of British Columbia. A royal commission on forestry can discern that direction and set our course for decades to come.

The challenges we face in our forests today are many and significant. In the Interior, the devastating mountain pine beetle outbreak has killed a volume of pine that could equal more than 10 years’ harvest of all timber species throughout B.C. The legislature’s special committee on timber supply expects that level of pine mortality will eventually result in a 20-per-cent decrease in the total harvest level in B.C. for up to 50 years.