Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, has released the following statement in recognition of National Forest Week, Sept. 22 to 28, 2019:
“National Forest Week is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of Canada’s forests. Here in British Columbia, our forests have always been vital to our way of life, providing economic, environmental, recreational and cultural values to our communities.
“Currently, our forest industry is going through a very challenging transition. The combined effects of mountain pine-beetle epidemics, wildfires and external market forces have resulted in mill closures and job losses for many B.C. forest workers. This government is committed to helping impacted workers, their families and communities weather these ongoing changes. We recently announced $69 million to support workers affected by mill closures in the Interior forest sector. We are taking action to ensure support systems are in place, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure our forest industry stays competitive as we transition to a new vision for forestry in B.C.
“While it may sound like an odd thing to say given the recent mill closures and news stories over the past year, there is a bright future ahead for forestry in British Columbia. We are working with licensees, First Nations, labour and communities to rebuild and re-invigorate the forest sector, and to develop solutions that maintain good jobs and get more value from B.C.’s forests. Although the future forest industry will look markedly different from what we see today, it will remain a significant part of B.C.’s economic base and the backbone of many rural communities.
“The dimension lumber sector will remain a crucial part of our forest economy, and over the coming years, we expect a significant transition to higher-value products, engineered products, wood composite products and industrial wood pellet production. We have directed the use of engineered wood, where possible, for $20 billion in public infrastructure projects over the next three years, including the Royal BC Museum in Victoria and the new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
“We are continuing to focus on market diversification in order to maintain and expand demand for B.C. forest products in Canada and the global marketplace. Our work with overseas partners is ongoing to position wood as a low-carbon, energy efficient, green-building system that will help rapidly expanding Asian economies, and others, meet future building needs and develop new business for the B.C. forest industry.
“During National Forest Week, I encourage all British Columbians to enjoy our forests first-hand and appreciate the many ways our forests contribute to our communities. Working together, we will overcome the challenges we face today and develop a competitive, sustainable future for B.C.’s forest sector.”
National Forest Week in B.C.: https://www.bcnfw.ca/