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percent of BC forests publicly owned

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seedlings planted annually

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percent of BC forests harvested yearly

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hectares of certified forests in BC

How sustainable are BC’s forest practices?

Sustainable forestry maintains and enhances the long-term health of forest ecosystems for the benefit of all living things while providing environmental, economic, social, and cultural opportunities for present and future generations. BC practices sustainable forestry, with some of the most comprehensive practices in the world, according to a recent comparative study by the University of British Columbia.1 Roughly 95 percent of BC forests are publicly owned and governed by stringent laws and environmental protection.  

BC forest companies must consult relevant stakeholders to address public views, before any harvesting is approved by the government. And in BCa process called land use planning  involves British Columbians in decisions that determine how public lands and forests will be used today and in the future. This has resulted in full protection for almost 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres) and brings the total amount of protected land in British Columbia to approximately 15 percent. 

BC has one of the largest park systems in the world—its 1,033 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas cover over 14 million hectares. The province has also established over 6,400 old-growth management areas for biodiversity conservation and is using the best and latest science to reduce the impacts of climate change on our forests. 

How many trees are cut in BC every year?

A fraction of one percent of BC forests are cut annually. BC’s chief forester is required by law, at least every 10 years, to determine how much wood can be harvested from each of the province’s 70 management units (timber supply areas and tree farm licenses) through something called the timber supply review. A sustainable quota the annual allowable cutis determined independently and based on detailed technical analysis and public comment. Careful consideration is given to protecting wildlife and fish habitat, soils, water and recreational opportunities. 

Natural and native trees

Restoring BC forests to their natural state

The province has more than 40 different species of native trees. Softwood or coniferous wood such as western hemlock, western red cedar and Douglas-fir flourish in the temperate rainforests along the Pacific Coast. Many pines and spruces come from the dry and cooler forests of the interior of B.C. Since the 1930s, more than 7.5 billion seedlings have been planted in BC to reforest areas after logging, wildfire or insect infestations and 200 million seedlings are planted every year in the province of BC. Few places on earth can match the diversity and richness of British Columbia’s (B.C.) forests. BC’s approach to natural regeneration differs from other jurisdictions using plantations or intensively managed forests. After harvesting on public land, forest companies in BC remain responsible for regenerating the forest site until the trees have grown into a new, healthy forest reflective of the region’s natural native species and ecosystems. 

 

Is there deforestation in BC?

BC has roughly the same amount of forested area as it did before European settlement, making it one of the few regions in the world with virtually no significant deforestation. Only three percent of BC’s land has been permanently converted to other uses such as farming, ranching and urban development. ​ When compared to seven other forest jurisdictions around the world, B.C. has the second-highest proportion of land covered with forests (57%) after Japan (68%). And BC’s forest cover has remained stable over the past few decades, at around 55 million hectares, with one of the lowest deforestation rates among all jurisdictions.1 

How are sustainable forest practices enforced in BC?

The Forest & Range Practices Act (FRPA) sets out the mandatory forest practices and resource-based activities. Natural Resource Officers enforce a range of laws including the protection of water, wildlife, ecosystems, biodiversity and cultural uses. The province issues penalties for offences such as illegal logging, damaging the environment or failure to reforest a site. In addition to FRPA, abidance to laws protecting drinking water, wildlife and Indigenous heritage​ are also enforced. An independent watchdog, the Forest Practices Board, will audit practices and government enforcement to ensure companies comply with laws and regulations.​

Lasers in the forest

How Technology is Transforming B.C.'s Forest Sector

From high-tech drone to lasers in the forest learn firsthand how foresters in BC are using next-generation technology to protect wildlife and safeguard the future well-being of our forests.  Today, high-resolution aerial imagery of B.C.’s forests is captured by drones. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)—what can be best described as airborne laser scanning—is now used to examine the height and diameter of trees, explore the forest terrain and more accurately estimate forest inventories. All of this technology is helping B.C. foresters optimize their management plans and keep forests healthy in the face of climate change.​ 

How does BC forest management stack up globally? 

In BC, legally sourced products are supported through the province’s multi-faceted sustainable forest management approach which includes stringent laws, skilled forestry professionals, comprehensive monitoring, compliance, and enforcement. The State of British Columbia’s Forests: A Global Comparison, a research study conducted by the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Faculty of Forestry, used key measures to
determine how forest practices in British Columbia (B.C.) compare with seven countries participating in the Montréal Process Criteria and Indicators. The study found that sustainable forest management is a clear priority in B.C. and a central policy focus for the provincial government. B.C. has one of the world’s most comprehensive legal frameworks and is a leader in third-party forest certification. A second study used identical methodology to compare Canada with the same seven jurisdictions and found Canada’s forest management and conservation regime is one
of the most advanced in the world. Learn more about how these studies were conducted.

What about forest certification?

Along with strong legal protection for its forests, the province has one of the highest rates of third-party forest certification in the world. Independent forest certification provides a stamp of approval showing customers they are buying products that come from forests managed to comprehensive environmental, social, and economic standards. By participating in forest certification, BC companies go above and beyond the law, providing on-the-ground proof that they are using sustainable practices. Read more about forest certification in the province. 

Forest Values

Protecting old-growth, wildlife, biodiversity and recreational uses

In addition to fully protected lands, a significant number of areas in BC are under a special management regime, where other values such as wildlife habitat, biodiversity or recreation take precedence. This includes old-growth management areas, wildlife management areas, community watershed areas along with cultural, recreational and scenic areas. Read more about conservation lands in the province.