The B.C. government’s action plan to increase the mid-term timber supply contains a commitment to forest renewal through nine sustained and 11 new actions, said Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson.
"We've long recognized the importance of having a long-term vision for forest management to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the economic benefits they provide,” he said. “This plan supports our long-term vision."
Government's response to the Special Committee on Timber Supply's report signals the start of the final phase in its decade-long response to the mountain pine beetle infestation. Since 2001 the B.C. government has invested over $884 million on forest management and economic development in the mountain pine beetle-impacted areas, to assist forestry-dependent communities diversify their economic base.
In 2011, over 53,000 people were employed directly in the forest industry. In 2011, forest product exports totalled $9.95 million.
Beyond the Beetle: A Mid-Term Timber Supply Action Plan” puts a sharper focus on increasing the mid-term timber supply and better utilizing timber for bioenergyand other purposes, to complement the traditional focus on sawlogs.
Highlights of the action plan include a 10-year forest inventory strategy, innovativesilviculture practices to grow more trees faster, and landscape fire management planning to reduce risks to the mid-term timber supply.
Over 198 million seedlings were planted in 2011, and it is estimated that over 200 million seedlings will be planted in 2012.
Other key elements of the plan includes proposed new legislation to convert volume-based forestlicences to area-based forest licences, and the creation of a new supplemental forest licence to increase bioenergy opportunities.
The action plan also supports the special committee's recommendation to ensure any harvesting in areas set aside for old growth, wildlife and scenic values only be considered if it is scientifically and ecologically sound to do so, and has the support of local communities and First Nations.
Some communities have asked the provincial government to consider harvesting within sensitive areas of the timber harvesting land base.
The action plan acknowledges government, communities, First Nations, and forest industry as partners to ensure success, taking into account current fiscal realities. Further funding for reforestation, inventory and fuel management will be reviewed as the fiscal situation improves and the recommendations are fully implemented.
In 2012-13, $30 million is being invested in the hardest-hit mountain pine beetle areas through the ministry's land based investment strategy.
A history of government's battle against the mountain pine beetle can be found at http://ow.ly/eeCn2. Learn more about the B.C. government's action plan at www.gov.bc.ca/http://www.gov.bc.ca/pinebeetle.