Panic in the government should not descend into head-over-heels panic
Dear Minister Bell,
There are many reasons why what the Globe and Mail terms “panic in the government” should not descend into head-over-heels panic. Logging long-protected forest areas will certainly appear as panic and a government that has lost its way.
I believe you know or have been told many of the reasons – each protected area has a clear rationale. A closer look at the rationales will indicate the economic returns as well. I know that the Professional foresters (ABCPF) have provided a paper rejecting the concept. I have not seen the ABCPF paper and what it says. I do know this: it is difficult to conceive of a change in policy that could more quickly reduce the reputation and marketability of forest practices and products in much of the world.
British Columbia has a checkered history of forest planning and practice, but up until the mismanagement of the bark beetle outbreak had become one of the ‘good guys’. I have personally helped extend and implement forest practices developed in BC to five continents – most recently Australia. The recent proposal is a major step backwards. It is true, that China will buy the wood for a few years yet, but they are working towards sustainability rather than away from it and will not want to wear the label as cause for such a retrograde step for long. That should be reason enough to evade panic, but there are at least two more large ones.
First, part of the shortage of wood is a result of government policy and its implementation in the face of mountain pine beetle attack. There are Forest Practice Board reports that document this point. It seems daft to propose measures certain to be controversial that will ensure a closer view of what the government did to help create the problem. Helping create a problem, then making it worse, will confirm that the Globe’s term “panic in the government” is apt.
The second big reason is that unlike mining, forestry and the diverse resources and services forests supply are intended to be sustainable. I have had the opportunity to help develop forestry for over 30 years in about 30 countries. It is always a struggle between the near-term and sustainability. The companies that survive elect sustainability. I suspect the policy proposed will appease share-holders for 5 years but no longer, because it is a kind of poison pill that undoes a
good reputation. It certainly does not show commitment to the future or leadership.
Professor Emeritus, Forestry
18347 54th Avenue
Surrey BC V3S 7Z1
Editors note: you might check this out as well → BC's public dispute on Sustainable Forest Management