%

of B.C. forests are publicly owned 

M

seedlings planted annually 

%

of B.C. forests harvested yearly 

M

hectares of certified forests in B.C. 
A GLOBAL LEADER

How sustainable are B.C.’s forest practices?

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

B.C. 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 14.5 million hectares and brings the total amount of protected lands 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, B.C. has one of the largest park systems in the world—its 1,035 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas cover over 14 million hectares. The province 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 per cent of B.C. forests is cut annually. 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 71 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.   

Photo credit: Nik West

Daytime sunny view of approaching fully laden logging truck on gravel road in forest
FORESTS FOREVER

Is there deforestation in B.C.?

B.C. 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 per cent of B.C.’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 one of the highest percentages of total land covered with forests, second only to Japan. And B.C.’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, B.C. 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, B.C. 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 B.C., sustainable forest management decisions and activities are based on scientific research, rigorous planning processes and standards, as well as public consultation. B.C.’s strong system of forest laws, monitoring and enforcement ensures sustainable forest management across the province. 

Photo credit: Nik West

Legal compliance

How are sustainable forest practices enforced in B.C.?

TheForest & 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. 

Photo credit: Nik West

Pair of forest management workers wearing bright orange PPE consulting during Vancouver Island Logging at Honeymoon Bay
LASERS IN THE FOREST

How technology is transforming B.C.'s forest sector

From high-tech drones to lasers in the forest, B.C. is using next-generation technology to protect wildlife, improve sustainable practices and safeguard the future well-being of the province’s forests. Today, foresters are capturing high-resolution aerial imagery of B.C.’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 B.C. optimize sustainable management plans and keep forests healthy in the face of a changing climate.

Photo credit: Ainsworth Communications

By comparison

How does B.C. forest management stack up globally?

In B.C., 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 B.C. 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 B.C.’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 B.C. with seven of the same jurisdictions and found B.C.’s forest management and conservation regime is one of the most advanced in the world. 

bear by a river
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. Nine per cent of the world’s certified forests are found in B.C. Third-party forest management certification complements and further verifies B.C.’s already comprehensive and rigorous forest management laws and regulations. It provides added assurance that B.C. companies are operating legally, sustainably and in compliance with world-recognized sustainable forest management standards.  

Photo credit: Michael Bednar

Daytime sunny view of two forestry workers in PPE, holding map and looking out at forest of coniferous trees from atop hill
FOREST VALUES

Protecting old-growth, wildlife, biodiversity and recreational uses of B.C. forests

The amount of recognized protected land in B.C. has more than doubled over the past two decades. In addition to fully protected lands, many areas in B.C. 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. 

Skyward view of tall indigenous coniferous trees - Including Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), with sun shining through.
BC’s Sustainable Forest Management Practices

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Forest surveyor in safety orange shirt and hard hat measuring diameter at breast height (DBH) of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
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Douglas-fir tree close up of tree at base of the trunk
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