Improving BC’s Forest Practices
In the 1980s and early 1990s forests in BC were under a global microscope, and as BC developed its original forest practices framework there was extensive consultation around how to ensure BC’s forest management was “the best in the world”. What emerged were the principles of ‘managing within the natural range’, ‘managing for connectivity’, and ‘keeping representative old forest and ecosystems’.
However, only small portions of these principles were ever implemented, and today the current state of public forests and grassland ecosystems reflects these short-comings: large parts of BC’s forests have been ecologically and economically degraded, with greatly reduced biodiversity, cultural values for Indigenous peoples, timber supply and carbon stock. In addition, the climate crisis causes additional pressure that has not been acknowledged in policy resulting in:
- increased disturbances such as droughts, flooding, and landslides, both large and small scale;
- increased wildfire risk; and
- attempted regrowth of forest on many sites under new and increasing climate extremes.
Current forest policy and logging practices exacerbate these impacts in many places.
Management of old forests remains BC’s primary strategy to maintain both the unique values associated with BC’s old forests and the biodiversity (species, ecosystems and processes) that characterizes super natural British Columbia. Yet BC’s forest management approach sets targets far below natural levels (and then doesn’t meet them in many areas of the province ~1), does not manage for the rarest and most sensitive ecosystems, and does not prioritize responding to climate change.
BC must modernize the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) to ensure operational planning and forest practices maintain and where necessary restore healthy, fully functioning forest ecosystems that can support ecological, cultural and community resiliency. Specific changes needed are detailed in this joint submission from more than 30 environmental groups to government on reforming FRPA to put forests, not timber, first.
~1 In a 2018 analysis in the Kootenays, 47 of 220 LU x BEC combinations did not meet legal targets outlined in the land use plan. Mackillop 2018. FLNRORD Report.
Joint submission from 33 environmental groups in response to the Discussion Paper, Forest and Range Practices Act, Improvement Initiative: Renewal and Resilience