British Columbia (B.C.) is an international leader in sustainable forest management. About 95% of B.C.’s forests are publicly owned and priorities for the use of these lands are developed through community-based strategic land and resource management planning.
B.C.’s Forest and Range Practices Act legislates on-the-ground results. It is built on a foundation of professional skills and accountability, and ensures public lands provide a mix of benefits such as timber, recreational opportunities, water quality, wildlife habitat, and countless other values. It also regulates construction, maintenance and deactivation of forest roads. In addition, the independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices in B.C., the Forest Practices Board, watches over all forestry activities on behalf of the public.
B.C. is well positioned to support results-based forest regulations. It has registered professionals and a multi-faceted compliance and enforcement regime.
Three independent studies comparing forestry regulations (see sidebar) in jurisdictions around the world, found that B.C.’s forest sustainability requirements are among the most stringent in the world.
As the most biologically and ecologically diverse province in Canada, B.C. takes care to maintain this immense diversity through a coordinated comprehensive strategy to conserve a network of parks and protected areas totalling 14.1 million hectares (34.8 million acres) of the province. 1,029 provincial parks and protected areas in B.C. contain some of the best representative elements and special features of the province’s natural heritage. An equally large area is designated for special management, which means other values in the forest, such as wildlife habitat or scenic values take precedence over resource development.
Maintaining a Sustainable Harvest
B.C.’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 the province’s timber supply review. This allowable annual cut determination is independent and based on detailed technical analysis, public comment and consideration of forest resource values such as wildlife and fish habitat, soils, water and recreational opportunities.
The timber supply review is the foundation of B.C.’s sustainable forest management, considering ecological values while allowing long-term economic benefits for communities.