On July 10, 2012 West Coast made submissions to a Special Committee on Timber Supply appointed by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia to examine potential actions to address anticipated mid-term timber supply shortfalls in the central interior linked to the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
The West Coast submissions set out the following principles that should guide evaluation and decision-making regarding potential actions to mitigate timber supply impacts:
- Enable “jobs for our children” by planning for more diverse community economic and business opportunities from forest lands that can be sustained over the long term.
- Recognize and respect Aboriginal title and rights
- Identify and implement new mechanisms for local self-determination and community benefit, and distribute benefits fairly
- Respect ecological limits and apply the precautionary principle
- Manage for resilient forests and resilient communities.
- Ensure that decisions are informed by best available science and by Indigenous knowledge.
The submissions stressed that existing areas reserved for biodiversity, wildlife and other ecological values are already insufficient to meet these principles, and should not be sacrificed for short term economic benefit.
BC has a forestry law system that is stuck in the last century and it is time for change. The economic model it was designed to sustain is no longer serving BC communities. The challenges faced by communities in mountain pine beetle affected areas and by our forest sector are substantial, but keeping our heads in the sand for another few years will not produce solutions. It’s time to move forward with designing solutions and reforming our forestry laws for the 21st century.