%

of BC forests are publicly owned 

M

seedlings planted annually 

%

of BC forests harvested yearly 

M

hectares of certified forests in BC 
A GLOBAL LEADER

How sustainable are BC’s forest practices?

BC practices sustainable forestry, with some of the most comprehensive practices in the world, according to recent comparative study by the University of British Columbia. Roughly 95 percent of BC forests are publicly owned and governed by stringent laws and environmental regulation.And over 85 percent of the province’s forest land has been legally designated for multiple uses. 

BC forest companies must consult British Columbians before any harvesting is approved by the government. In the provincea 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 lands and water in British Columbia to over 15 percent, more than any other province in Canada. Additional measures include special ecosystem-based management, biodiversity and protection for wildlife habitat and species at risk. 

Further, 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 latest science to reduce the impacts of climate change on our forests.  

Sustainable quotas

A fraction of 1% cut each year

A fraction of one percent of BC forests is 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. Careful consideration is given to protecting wildlife and fish habitat, soils, water and recreational opportunities. A sustainable quotathe allowable annual cutis determined independently and based on detailed technical analysis and public comment. Since 1987 the annual timber harvest volume in the province has been below the allowable annual cut at an average of 77 million cubic metres.   

FORESTS FOREVER

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, BC has one of the highest percentages of total land covered with forests, second only to Japan. 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.

When it comes to logging, the province maintains a quota on how many trees can be cut each year to ensure they are harvested at sustainable levels​. By law, BC forests are reforested promptly using a mix of native tree species. By planting native tree species in combination with natural regeneration, and managing for the flora and fauna indigenous to the region, BC protects the province’s vital ecosystems and biodiversity.

FORESTRY FACTS

What is sustainable forestry?

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. In BC, sustainable forest management decisions and activities are based on scientific research, rigorous planning processes and standards, as well as public consultation. BC’s strong system of forest laws, monitoring and enforcement ensures sustainable forest management across the province. 

Legal compliance

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 failing 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 BC's forest sector

From high-tech drones to lasers in the forest, BC is using next-generation technology to protect wildlife, improve sustainable practices and safeguard the future well-being of the province’s forestsToday, foresters are capturing high-resolution aerial imagery of BC’s forests using dronesAnd light detection and ranging (LiDAR)—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 BC optimize sustainable management plans and keep forests healthy in the face of a changing climate.

By comparison

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. In comparing BC to the world, one study found the province has one of the world’s most comprehensive legal frameworks and is a leader in third-party forest certification. The study, which examined forest legislation and certification standards in 14 international jurisdictions, showed that BC’s laws and legislation cover all of the 16 elements of sustainable forest management that are generally part of voluntary certification standards. second study compared BC with seven of the same jurisdictions and found BC’s forest management and conservation regime is one of the most advanced in the world. 

Demonstrating Accountability

Added assurance through 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. By participating in forest certification, BC companies go above and beyond the law, providing on-the-ground proof that they are using sustainable practices. 

FOREST VALUES

Protecting old-growth, wildlife, biodiversity and recreational uses of BC forests

The amount of recognized protected land in BC has more than doubled over the past two decades. 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 and community watershed areas, along with cultural, recreational and scenic areas. 

Fact Sheets

Get simple explanations about complex subjects. Our library of fact sheets covers topic areas such as mass timber construction, sustainable forest management, climate change, forest certification and more.

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