British Columbians should be proud of our deep forestry roots because it is the forest industry that built our beautiful province into what it is today.
Across this province, multiple generations of hardworking men and women get up in the early hours and go to work, to support their families, their communities and their province. Forestry has broad reaches into our communities, far past just the men and women who work in the woods. Small businesses, large businesses, sports teams, community events and many other community affiliations are all dependent on forestry.
There is a growing disconnect between forestry workers, and the average British Columbian who does not understand this great renewable resource.
At the end of 2018, BC had 50 million hectares (123.6 million acres) of certified forested lands obtained through CSA, FSC and SFI programs (third party auditors).
Almost 64 per cent of the province, about 60.3 million hectares (149 million acres), is forested. Less than one-third of one per cent of BC’s forest land is harvested annually (pwc, 2016).
Forestry workers planted 211 million trees in 2019 and are forecasted to plant 308 million in 2020.
The BC forest industry is a cornerstone of the provincial economy, contributing an estimated $12.9 billion to the total provincial GDP.
The BC forest industry exported $13.7 billion worth of forest products in 2016, accounting for 34 per cent of all provincial exports (pwc 2016).
Licensees are required by law to replant harvested areas.
Forestry is a major employer creating one in five jobs in some areas of BC. Across the province, creating 60,000 direct jobs and another 80,000 indirect jobs for a total of almost $9 billion in wages.
Health care, education, roads, social programs are paid for in part by forestry revenues.
Canada’s forestry practices are some of the best in the world, and it is time to stand up for this renewable resource. We need to continue the conversation about safeguarding the working forest and the harvestable landbase.
There needs to be a secured harvestable landbase for our future generations. A renewable resource is just that, renewable. If we continue to erode the harvestable landbase, our province, and our small rural communities, will cease to exist in the same way as we know them today.
British Columbians are fortunate enough to supply the world with the most environmentally friendly building material available, and accomplishing this, while meeting and exceeding some of the most stringent environmental laws in the world.
It is time for our federal, provincial and municipal governments, and all British Columbians, to stand up and be proud of our forestry past, present and future.
Carl Sweet is a Campbell River resident and a director with BC Forestry Alliance.