An Editorial Opinion – Right From The Stump, August 7, 2023
This post is a comment about forestry,
so please bear with my preamble….Last June, there was a surprise new call for power by the BC government. Past calls for power drove the expansion of energy production by the private sector (IPPs). Many projects including pulp mill power, run-of-river and biomass projects were built over the last two decades to sell power to BC Hydro.
However, a strong lobby campaign against IPPs led to dramatic policy change. The then newly elected NDP government commissioned the report, Zapped: Review of BC Hydro’s Purchase of Power from Independent Power Producer and as a consequence, the government ended its standing call for power in 2020. This all occurred despite awareness of growing energy demand, and the province did not have enough capacity.
Now with the goals to electrify the province and net zero emissions for LNG, the government has once again turned to IPPs for solutions.
How does this shift in energy policy serve as a comment about forestry? The parallels are very similar…
Forest product markets may be tough now, but according to the UN FAO’s Global forest sector outlook to 2050, consumption of lumber, panels, and pulp will increase by 37% beyond 2020. Yet many of our province’s sawmills and pulp mills are on the brink of permanent closure.
Unfortunately, just like the misguided end to the calls for power back in 2020, our forest policy is going in the wrong direction. The forest sector has had its own “review” with the Old Growth Strategic Review that has brought about new and pending policy that will reduce our ability to manage forests for our needs.
Simply just preserving forests does not protect them. Instead, we should be expanding active forest management which would address our very Canadian reality that harvesting (and thinning) actually helps protect forests (and our communities) by reducing wildfire intensity as well as carbon emissions from forest fires. Fibre from increased forest management may even help some of those struggling mills.
The longer we go down the path away from forestry, the longer it will take before we can realize the benefits of managing forests. It took three years for government to come to its senses and shed the ENGO rhetoric on energy. How long will it take the government to do the same on forestry? It’s time to start managing forests for the future!
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Written By David Elstone, RPF
Publisher, View From The Stump newsletter
Managing Director, Spar Tree Group Inc.