Forest Fires Pose Questions for the Future of the BC Logging Industry

by JohnAdams1776 on October 6, 2017 - 10:56pm

The article listed below discusses the effects of the severe forest fires in BC over the summer and how they will affect the forestry industry in both the short and long term.  Specifically, an industry that is already in a state of transition as a result of the pine beetle infestation and the threat of a new trade war with the United States, will now have to deal with the loss of 53 million cubic metres of timber which is equivalent to a typical year’s total harvest. The article also mentions the efforts taken by the BC government to assist the industry including a $140 million dollar reforestation package over the next few years as well the potential for the salvage of certain burnt timber. In my opinion there are a few key points that this article brings to mind. Firstly, the idea of responsible logging now appears more speculative as with a smaller amount of timber available the amount of viable locations to choose from has also shrunk. This promises to lead towards greater conflict with aboriginal peoples in BC many of whom never ceded their land via a treaty. The government will now face a more difficult balancing of the different values that forests have to different groups of people. To alleviate some of this burden the government must make sure they fulfill the duty to consult First Nation’s peoples about any proposed changes to the industry.

The government will also face questions about whether it’s in the public’s interest to pay for reforestation efforts while at the same time still allowing companies to benefit from a continued harvest of the forests. However, the government also faces uncertainty about how many jobs can be kept and the consequences for logging dependent communities in the north of BC if enough aid is not provided. When making decisions about aid to the industry the government must consider that although the main benefit to the state for resource management is tax revenue, providing employment to citizens is also important. Although with climate change expected to increase the prevalence of forest fires and thus volatility of the industry some might wonder if the aid money should instead go to training these workers skills for other jobs. Preserving the biodiversity of the forests will also be more difficult if the government intends to allow more ‘old forest’ harvesting until newly planted trees reach economic maturity. Indeed this course of action may go against the concept of sustainable development as it may comprise the ability of future generations to meet their forestry and biodiversity needs. Perhaps the troubles with the forestry industry in British Columbia will lead to the long awaited shift away from traditional paper products and a move towards more sustainable substitute products especially with the steady decline in the price of mobile electronic devices which could replace paper. Ultimately, I believe the government should conduct thorough surveys of the remaining stocks and conduct studies on the economic impacts of shifting the industry now vs propping it up.

 

Givetash, L. (2017, September 06). B.C. forest industry faces big setbacks after summer of wildfires. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/forestry-bc-wildfires-1.4...