I think we can all agree that forestry is an incredibly important industry in the north. Although the industry is suffering around the province right now I believe it will come back stronger than ever if we are smart about our management.
With the Natural Resource Forum being located in Prince George I think it is the perfect opportunity to discuss the future of the forest industry. We need to be supporting natural resource companies that prioritize sustainability and not just using this buzz word on their website to appeal to environmentalists.
As we discuss the future of the forest industry we need to start brainstorming local manufacturing opportunities and adding more value per hectare to our forests. It’s unbelievable that we are shipping raw logs away just to buy them back when they are processed into cabinets or tables.
While communities like Mackenzie are protesting local mills stay open, people are starting to discuss the idea of bringing back appurtenancy, which the liberals took away in 2003. The main idea of this would be to promote local processing in the communities where the trees are harvested but there are also problems with bringing old systems back into place and I’m not sure if this is the right way forward but it’s a topic that keeps coming up. A topic that also came up in class the other day was actually a smart idea but I’m not sure if it would work. We were discussing equalization payments in Canada and if we could use the same idea in BC for communities that are succeeding to help support smaller communities like Fort St. James or Burns Lake that are being hit really hard by the forestry downtown. I know it may sound crazy but the idea of this class is to discuss what it would look like, even if actually going through with the idea is very improbable. Talking about “out of the box” ideas is how we are going to find solutions as a diverse community.
Convincing prosperous communities to share their wealth with suffering communities would be a difficult sell but thinking about the complexity of how it would work and the opposition that would ensue was the point of the exercise. Finding “solutions” to the forest industry is not as easy as getting a softwood lumber agreement and renegotiating stumpage as some suggest. It’s an extremely complex system that requires deep thought and consultation. Although I wish we could start from scratch sometimes to ensure we have forests left for our great-grandchildren I know that it’s not practical. That is why I will be attending the Natural Resource forum and working to build relationships WITH industry instead of against it. I do believe there is a place for peaceful protest but I know I personally work better at creating relationships with people than against them. I also have a lot to learn so attending these events can give me one perspective. Being in the green community, being in school and working in the forest industry gives me another perspective. I think grasping all of these perspectives and exposing myself to as many as possible is incredibly important to forming my own opinion as well. No one has a silver bullet to completely fix the industry but I think working on banning exporting raw logs and banning the spraying of glyphosate on our forests is a great start.