Forest Practices Board report confirms Liberals more interested in semantics than solutions
GOLDEN – A report released Tuesday by the Forest Practices Board confirms what independent foresters and the auditor general have already concluded: B.C.’s forests have been degraded by more than a decade of Liberal neglect, says New Democrat forest critic Norm Macdonald.
“Regardless of the definition, roughly two million hectares of land that was once part of the working forest is no longer productive forest land,” said Macdonald.
The board’s report states that the government has chosen to use a much narrower definition of the term “Not Satisfactorily Restocked.”
“In February, the auditor general also raised these concerns. And Anthony Britneff, a well-respected retired forester, said the same thing 18 months ago. In response, the Liberals claimed that both the auditor general and Mr. Britneff were wrong,” said Macdonald.
“Today’s report should put an end to the game playing. The Forest Practices Board has called on the government to take real action on the land.”
The report includes a call for government to carry out the inventory work necessary to inform the decision making.
“How can a government, which is supposed to be the steward of public lands, make decisions about the land base when they don’t know what’s actually going on?”
In 1996, the government spent nearly $35 million on inventory work. For the 2012-13 fiscal year, that figure has dropped to $6 million.
Macdonald said the board’s report concurs with many of the presentations made to the Special Committee on Timber Supply that has been holding public hearings throughout the Interior.
“The government is scrambling to find a way to increase timber supply for communities that are facing a significant drop in their future cuts,” said Macdonald. “Unfortunately for forest-dependent communities across the province, the Liberals’ inaction may have made the effects of the mountain pine beetle even worse.”
Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats have said that significant resources must be dedicated to addressing the forest health crisis.
“The forests are the infrastructure on which our forest economy is based,” said Macdonald. “Without a healthy forest, it’s impossible to have a healthy forest industry.
“As it is, more than 40,000 jobs have been lost from the forest industry under the Liberals. This is not just a problem for today. A decade of mismanagement of the forest lands also puts tomorrow’s industry under threat.”