Old-growth logs show core rot that eventually causes them to fall. (Darryl Weicker/Facebook)

GUEST COLUMN: B.C. has the most sustainably managed forests in the world

David Elstone of the Truck Loggers Association responds to Sierra Club’s latest protest

Sierra Club B.C. is staging demonstrations at 17 MLA offices today, repeating their call for an end to logging of old-growth forests. Locations are Victoria, Langford, Campbell River, Comox, Nanaimo, Sidney, Duncan, Parksville, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Surrey, Oliver, Prince George, Langley, Sechelt and Nelson. David Elstone RPF, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association, responds.

For decades, and even more so over the past year, there have been many catastrophic headlines trumpeting rhetoric from environmentalists who state BC’s old-growth forests are endangered and warning that if we’re not careful, we’ll soon run out.

Nothing could be further from the truth: 55 per cent of remaining old-growth forests, 500,000 hectares, are protected on Vancouver Island alone and will never be harvested. Ever. There are also millions of hectares of old growth tress protected on the B.C. Coast. These crucial facts are often ignored in the articles and arguments intended to pressure the government to end old-growth logging.

There have been ongoing suggestions the forestry industry needs to transition from old-growth to second-growth harvesting. This is a completely unrealistic demand. A moratorium on harvesting old-growth would deal a deadly blow to Vancouver Island’s forestry economy. From 2012-2017, about 47.7 per cent of the harvest was from old-growth trees. Ending old-growth logging on Vancouver Island would shut down four sawmills, a pulp mill and lead to thousands of jobs lost.

RELATED: B.C. forest companies get first test of new licence rules

RELATED: Investors to build sawmill, remanufacturing in Port Alberni

It would also eliminate much of the value-add wood product manufacturing that relies on access to high quality timber that only comes from old-growth forests. Old growth wood is used to manufacture doors, mouldings, flooring, and decking found in most people’s homes in BC. It is valued for its knot-free, tight grain which is stronger and more visually appealing than wood harvested from second-growth trees.

Let me be clear: B.C. is the most sustainably managed forest region in the world. The province has more forested land under third party environmental certification than any other country in the world. B.C. takes old growth conservation seriously. The Great Bear Rainforest Act, Old-Growth Management Areas and other safeguards were created to make sure we will never, ever run out of old-growth forests.

The vast majority of old-growth forests are part of the provincial forest resource and owned by all British Columbians. Crown forests are managed with myriad values in mind, including recreation, soils, sustainable timber supply, wildlife, water, fish, biodiversity, visual landscapes and cultural resources. Industry harvests only 0.3% (27,000 hectares) of the Coast’s operational forest’s 8.5 million hectares per year.

Much of the negative attention focuses on clearcutting; it is often described as an unsustainable, unethical, and ugly harvesting practice. In fact, clearcutting is the most cost-effective and silviculture-friendly way to regrow trees. Reforestation, which is legally mandated in BC, ensures our forests will be sustainable for generations to come, and the newly planted trees help our fight against climate change by fixing carbon as they grow. More than 200 million trees are planted every year in BC. Carbon stored in wood products made from B.C. forests can remain sequestered for 100 years and beyond.

It is also not widely known that not all trees are harvested within a clearcut. BC’s legacy tree policy requires the qualifying old growth trees to be left standing and there are successful examples of previously harvested clearcuts where legacy trees still stand tall.

As the voice of timber harvesting contractors – who harvest the trees – we need to ensure governments at all levels understand the catastrophic economic consequences that would befall B.C.’s rural communities if pleas to ban old-growth logging are heeded.

MLAs need to consider the disaster an old-growth logging ban would spell for the livelihoods of rural families, including those in her own riding which is a forestry-based community. The coastal forest industry provides well-paying jobs for nearly 24,000 workers and that’s not counting the reliant indirect jobs and businesses: grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, teachers, nurses and doctors.

Often forgotten too, are the relationships between the forest sector and backcountry tourism for skiers, mountain bikers and hikers who gain access to the forest on forest-industry service roads. None of this would exist if not for a forest resource sector that includes harvesting some old-growth timber. Most importantly, the public needs to know that all timber harvesting contractors in BC believe in conservation and are respectfully committed to sustainable old-growth forest management. It’s time we start celebrating the current conservation investment in millions of protected hectares, which too often is forgotten and ignored.

It is outrageous to demand an end to old growth logging without acknowledging the impact to people and communities. Our working forest needs protection from the misguided efforts of a few environmentalists who don’t have the province’s best interests in mind. They should not headline the news by making false claims against harvesting practices of BC’s most valued resource. And MLAs should know better to than to forsake the livelihoods of their own constituents.

Just Posted

Canine crimefighter leads to West Trail drug bust

Trail RCMP; Car search yields fentanyl and drug trafficking paraphernalia

UPDATED: Woman charged with attempted murder in Nelson stabbing

Fiona Coyle has been identified as the alleged assailant

UPDATED: Police chase in Nelson leads to arrest

A stolen grey Dodge Charger was later located by Six Mile

RCMP warn of phone scam involving the Trail hospital

KBRH Health Foundation does not use external phone solicitation methods to fundraise

Updated: Ferry closure Monday afternoon, all day Tuesday

No ferry service after 1:10 p.m. Monday except ‘essential service’ sailings

VIDEO: “How dare you?” Greta Thunberg addresses UN climate summit

‘We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and yet all you can talk about is money.’

Pettersson has 4 points as Canucks dump Ottawa 6-4

Vancouver wins NHL pre-season tilt in Abbotsford

British man returns to Yukon to tipple his own toe in long-running tradition

So-called sourtoe cocktail is a shot of whisky with a mummified human toe in it

Poll suggests Canadians concerned about fake news, but struggle to spot it

56 per cent of respondents admitted to reading or sharing inaccurate news

Province announces $3.5 million in funding for community solutions to overdose crisis

Grants up to $50,000 will be available for municipalities working with a regional health authority

Conservatives’ plan to ease mortgage stress-test rules may raise debt and prices

Andrew Scheer vows to loosen rules around stress test and remove it altogether for mortgage renewals

B.C. mom urges patience after rude comments while out with toddlers

People asked to be better and to help each other

U.S. wrestler says viral speeding ticket video was staged

WWE wrestler Lacey Evans says she does not condone disrespecting law enforcement officers

‘Own a piece of history’: Beachcombers location Molly’s Reach up for sale

‘This is one of B.C.’s most photographed buildings’

Most Read