Residents of British Columbia may have seen in the news today that the provincial government inadvertently placed a confidential draft report on the future of the forest industry on a publicly accessible website. That report is available as a PDF here, and I will keep a copy in case that link also, um, gets misplaced.
Given that the mountain pine beetle has been a problem for many years now, this report is both a record of an environmental disaster for the forest industry and catastrophically negligent management on the part of the BC Liberal government. It notes that there is enough available timber in the interior to maintain logging at current rates for the next decade, but only if vast amounts of dead pine are taken into account — much of which will be beyond rescue within the next 1-5 years.
This is going to result in further devastation to interior towns’s economies, too. Overall the report estimates 53% job losses in Prince George, Wiliams Lake, Quesnel, and Burns Lake regions.
The government’s response goes by the Orwellian phrase “mitigation” — by which they mean, eliminating current conservation rules which limit the harvesting of young timber (which is supposed to be saved for future logging), old-growth timber, and scenic and recreational areas. For all of this, they expect to save perhaps one-third of the expected job losses. For instance, they propose:
- open up old-growth stands in the Burns Lake region to harvesting, and “redefine” old growth so that much current protected areas are freed up for use;
- harvest the wildlife corridors which were left through old clearcuts for wildlife conservation purposes;
- open protected conservation and biodiversity regions for harvesting (these are referred to dismissively as “legacy areas,” i.e., legacies of a time in which B.C. had real conservation laws);
Towards the end, the report outlines processes for public consultation, although it’s not clear why they need consultation when they’ve already come to a decision. And then, because as we all know civil servants are non-partisan, it closes by noting that the decision on how best to eviscerate our conservation laws must be made by December “to avoid conflict with May 2013 election.”
Of course, once all this is done, we’ll need a re-mitigation plan, to mitigate the damage to the province’s forests done by this round of temporary deregulation. Oh, did I say temporary? My bad. The report actually makes no mention of timespans. The deregulation here is intended to be permanent.Tweet