The B.C. Liberals are risking both the environment and the economy of rural British Columbia with their failure to invest in reforestation, say the New Democrats.
New Democrat forest critic Norm Macdonald said the B.C. Liberals have abandoned their responsibility to manage our public forest for present and future generations and have failed to honestly admit the size of the forest health challenge ahead of us.
“British Columbia’s forests are one of our most valuable public assets, and the provincial government has a responsibility to manage that asset in the public interest,” Macdonald said Thursday while attending the Western Silviculture Contractors’ Association annual conference in Kelowna. “But instead, this government has consistently underfunded and understaffed the ministry that should be responsible for ensuring that our forests are properly replanted.”
The MLA made his comments after a speech to the conference by highly respected retired forester Anthony Britneff.
In his speech Britneff said the area of public forest land that should be designated as “not sufficiently restocked” (NSR) exceeds 9.1 million hectares, an area that is three times the size of Vancouver Island.
“A healthy forest ensures clean air, clean water and a fundamental basis for biological diversity,” Macdonald said. “The mismanagement by the B.C. Liberals undercuts those environmental values.
“And without a healthy forest, there’s no healthy forest industry,” said Macdonald. “Their continued refusal to act puts at risk future stability for the industry across rural British Columbia.”
He challenged the six contenders for the B.C. Liberal leadership to put forward a real plan to invest in forest health.
“The first step would be to take responsibility for their inaction in the past. The second, and more meaningful, step would be to commit to investing in B.C.’s forests and turn around the problem before it’s too late.
“We need to listen to professionals like Mr. Britneff and demand that the government take seriously its obligation to protect this vital public asset. Rural communities need the jobs provided by a healthy forest industry and we have a responsibility to protect our forestlands for future generations.”