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Where’s The Debate?

An Editorial Opinion – Right From The Stump, March 5, 2023.

(A version of the following blog post was originally published as an article in the View From The Stump newsletter, February 2023, under the same title. If you are interested in reviewing the newsletter, please contact me at Also, a complimentary full version of the October 2022 edition is available at

With reports of the BC legislature sitting with its members having nothing to do, I have a suggestion. How about having a real debate for the record on what is going on in the province’s forest sector. There are so many policy changes under way and yet there is absolutely no discussion.

For instance, what about the NDP’s Old Growth Strategic Review process and how it committed to, without debate or even analysis, implementing all fourteen recommendations of the resultant A New Future For Old Forest report?

It is concerning how this report has become so influential to the future of the industry and communities. Typically, when there are issues of such great societal importance, a royal commission is struck that is legally autonomous of government, investigative, and deeply analytical of the issue at hand. Yet upon the release of the report’s finding, there was no subsequent debate, no second opinion, it was a done deal despite the consequences.

The government said it would not ban old growth logging but would reduce the amount harvested. I have presented my views at length on implementation of recommendation #6 relating to old growth harvesting deferrals, which are still in progress. Now there is a push by Premier David Eby to have the remaining recommendations implemented.

If you were not aware, recommendation #2 is about to be foisted upon our province.

Recommendation #2: Declare conservation of ecosystem health and biodiversity of British Columbia’s forests as an overarching priority and enact legislation that legally establishes this priority for all sectors.

I am raising the red flag on this proposed declaration, not because I don’t believe in conservation and biodiversity. To the contrary, it’s my professional responsibility as it is for all forest professionals to manage for such values. The Association of BC Forest Professionals’ bylaws define the practice of professional forestry to include the promotion and implementation of the principles of forest stewardship. According to Bylaw #1,

“forest stewardship” means the responsible use of forest resources based on (a) the application of an ecological understanding at the stand, forest and landscape levels which maintains and protects ecosystem function, integrity and resilience, and (b) an ethical responsibility to the land and people for current and future generations;

Call me wrong, but a declaration on ecosystem health seems redundant given the existing charge to a 5,000-registrant profession. What would such a declaration seek to change that forest professionals are already accountable for? What are the legal ramifications? How will this declaration function with the declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples? I think this is a scary proposition that needs debate and analysis by the profession and communities.

This is not fear mongering – the way things are heading in this province, there sure seems to be the makings of a ban in effect on old growth harvesting without calling it a “ban.” It looks like Neil Young and Daryl Hannah with their recent visit to Victoria are hoping there will be.

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Written By David Elstone, RPF

Publisher, View From The Stump newsletter

Managing Director, Spar Tree Group Inc.



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