The Special Committee on Timber Supply has released its final report and Deputy Chair Norm Macdonald says it is both an example of politicians listening to the people and an indictment of the BC Liberal record on forestry.
“The committee which was made up of MLAs from both the BC Liberals and the NDP all agreed: the government has failed in its responsibility to properly manage our forests and to protect forest-dependent communities,” Macdonald, MLA for Columbia River – Revelstoke, said in a statement released on Wednesday morning.
The committee was tasked with addressing the declining timber supply and issues of forest health in the Interior with a focus on assisting the community of Burns Lake after a tragic fire resulted in the loss of the Babine Forest Products mill.
“The crisis in Burns Lake brought into focus two clear failings of this government,” MacDonald said. “First, the BC Liberals have no mechanism to assist and support communities in transition due to crisis or loss of industry. Second, the lack of proper care of the land means that we have neither the information nor the capacity to make the best decisions.”
Opposition members on the committee fought hard to ensure that this bi-partisan approach to a problem resulted in real solutions, and that the recommendations accurately reflected the input received from the 650 British Columbians who participated in the three-month long process.
“British Columbians understand the true value of our forests, not just for timber, but for all values,” Macdonald said. “And British Columbians are not willing to accept forest practices that are not based in the principles of social, environmental and economic sustainability.”
British Columbians indicated that improving and supporting forest health is of critical importance. They expect the government to set high standards for sustainable practices on the land base, and to enforce them.
British Columbians also want government to ensure that every tree harvested results in the best use of the fibre and the highest number of jobs for British Columbians.
Macdonald, as the Opposition forest critic, has been articulating these expectations for years.
“The forest industry in British Columbia has a strong future, but only if immediate action is taken,” he said in the statement. “The Minister of Forests now has the recommendations of the committee. It is up to him to act on them.”
Please click here to read the full report, Growing Fibre, Growing Value: http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/39thparl/session-4/timber/reports/PDF/Rpt-TIMBER-39-4-GrowingFibreGrowingValue-2012-08-15.pdf