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Forest management, a collaborative effort in West Kootenay

Letter to the Editor from Scott Weatherford, CEO of ATCO Wood Products, Fruitvale

Mr. Hart’s opinion of forestry in B.C. (“We need to involve communities in preserving forests,” published in the Trail Times on Aug. 25) is completely out of touch with the reality of how the forest management process and the forest industry works in the West Kootenay.

We are fortunate in our region to have a healthy and diverse forest industry dominated by independent, family owned businesses, who have been responsibly and sustainably managing our regions forests for generations.

Our region’s family forest businesses are akin to family farms who plant, nurture, and harvest the crops season after season, generation after generation, for the good of our community (both local and global); the only relevant difference being the rotation time of the crop.

Responsible management practices that ensure our forests are sustainably providing for our communities and the families whose livelihoods depend on the forests, are central to the health of our forests, our communities, and our family forestry businesses. Our region’s forests are largely certified by independent, third parties to rigorous environmental management standards.

Our regions’ mills produce high valued, speciality products. Our local forestry companies’ decisions are made in the kitchen tables of the Kootenays, not the board room tables of Toronto as Mr. Hart would lead you to believe.

Forest management in the West Kootenay has always been a regular collaborative effort involving local governments, recreation groups, community groups, and other local stakeholders. Harvest plans are developed, altered, and changed based on the collaborative input from those groups.

Currently, new forestry policies are being discussed through a highly collaborative approach throughout the province that is involving all stakeholders (forestry companies, local government, recreation groups, environmental groups, provincial government, etc.).

Mr. Hart’s claim that these discussions are only occurring with forestry companies and First Nations is simply wrong.

The vision that Mr. Hart has for a successful forest management approach is already reality in our part of BC. In the West Kootenay, we have been managing forests responsibly for a healthy balance of social, environmental, and economic values for generations….and as a result, our forests, our forest industry, and our communities, have been thriving.

Mr. Hart’s cause would be better served if he spent more time studying how the successful forest industry model in the West Kootenay can be replicated elsewhere in the province to achieve similar success, instead of generalizing his narrow observations and limited experience with the BC forest industry, and spreading misinformation.

Scott Weatherford

CEO – ATCO Wood Products Ltd., Fruitvale, BC

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