VICTORIA - Commitment to forest renewal through nine sustained and 11 new actions are contained in government's action plan to increase the mid-term timber supply, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced today.
Government's response to the Special Committee on Timber Supply's report signals the start of the final phase in its decade-long response to the mountain pine beetle infestation. Since 2001 the B.C. government has invested over $884 million on forest management and economic development in the mountain pine beetle-impacted areas, to assist forestry-dependent communities diversify their economic base.
'Beyond the Beetle: A Mid-Term Timber Supply Action Plan' puts a sharper focus on increasing the mid-term timber supply and better utilizing timber for bioenergy and other purposes, to complement the traditional focus on sawlogs.
Highlights of the action plan include a 10-year forest inventory strategy, innovative silviculture practices to grow more trees faster, and landscape fire management planning to reduce risks to the midterm timber supply. Other key elements of the plan includes proposed new legislation to convert volume-based forest licences to area-based forest licences, and the creation of a new supplemental forest licence to increase bioenergy opportunities.
The action plan also supports the special committee's recommendation to ensure any harvesting in areas set aside for old growth, wildlife and scenic values only be considered if it is scientifically and ecologically sound to do so, and has the support of local communities and First Nations. Some communities have asked the provincial government to consider harvesting within sensitive areas of the timber harvesting land base.
The action plan acknowledges government, communities, First Nations, and forest industry as partners to ensure success, taking into account current fiscal realities. Further funding for reforestation, inventory and fuel management will be reviewed as the fiscal situation improves and the recommendations are fully implemented.
Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson -
"We've long recognized the importance of having a long-term vision for forest management to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the economic benefits they provide. This plan supports our long-term vision."
Parliamentary Secretary for Forestry John Rustad -
"I'm looking forward to working with communities, First Nations, forest industry and ministry staff in implementing the action plan."
- In 2011, over 53,000 people were employed directly in the forest industry.
- In 2011, forest product exports totalled $9.95 billion.
- Over 198 million seedlings were planted in 2011, and it is estimated that over 200 million seedlings will be planted in 2012.
- In 2012-13, $30 million is being invested in the hardest-hit mountain pine beetle areas through the ministry's land based investment strategy.
A history of government's battle against the mountain pine beetle: http://ow.ly/eeCn2
Government's action plan: www.gov.bc.ca/pinebeetle
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
New commitments to increase mid-term timber supply
'Beyond the Beetle: A Mid-Term Timber Supply Action Plan' identifies 11 new actions in response to the Special Committee on Timber Supply's Recommendations, specifically:
Recommendation 1.2 - A community engagement framework will be in place by spring 2013 to monitor the intent of land and resource management plans.
Recommendation 2.1 - As part of ongoing ministry business, forest analysis and inventory staff will identify marginally economic stand types during timber supply reviews and quantify their potential contribution to timber supply.
Recommendation 2.2 - A science-based framework to revisit designation of sensitive areas will be ready for discussion with local governments, First Nations and stakeholders in early 2013. As well, the highest priority sensitive areas will be assessed in spring and summer 2013.
Recommendation 2.4 - The applicable government ministries will review, on a case-by-case basis, the feasibility of any new proposed road and power-line infrastructure proposals into currently underdeveloped areas affected by the mountain pine beetle.
Recommendation 3.1(c) - A review of partial cutting harvesting systems and associated training material will be completed by March 31, 2013.
Recommendation 3.3 - The ministry is piloting landscape fire management planning in the Merritt timber supply area and portions of the Prince George timber supply area. As well fire management planning is being incorporated into Type 4 silviculture strategies.
Recommendation 3.4 - A completed analysis of the not sufficiently restocked areas, because of the mountain pine beetle infestation, will be released later this fall. By March 31, 2013, a review of emerging technologies to improve cost-effectiveness of treatments will be completed.
Recommendation 4.4 - During 2013, the ministry will review how unsalvaged losses (timber damaged by natural causes, but not harvested) are estimated during timber supply reviews and ensure necessary systems are in place to more effectively promote utilization of this type of fibre.
Recommendation 5.1 - At the next sitting of the legislature, the minister will introduce legislation to enable the conversion of volume-based to area-based forest licences.
Recommendation 5.2 - At the next sitting of the legislature, the minister will introduce legislation to enable a new supplemental forest licence to provide security to the non-sawlog users of the forest sector and enable changes to the cut control regulation.
Recommendation 6 - Between now and December, ministry staff will be working closely with Hampton Affiliates, local government and First Nations in the Lakes Timber Supply Area to provide Hampton with the security they need for their final agreement to rebuild its Burns Lake mill and to meet the commitments in the minister's letter of Sept. 11, 2012.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations