Never in the history of British Columbia have so many people, from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, paid such close attention to how we manage and protect our forests.
As I attend forestry meetings and visit mills and woodland operations across the country, everyone is talking about what’s happening in BC. With more than one million hectares burned, 2017 has been the worst wildfire season on record. That’s a swath of land approaching half of Vancouver Island.

Whether you’re a business executive in downtown Vancouver, a small business owner in the Okanagan or a natural resource worker in Prince George, you’ve probably seen or heard about the devastation that’s happened and the people being displaced from their homes. Some of them have lost everything.

How we manage Crown lands in BC has been the topic of healthy debate for generations. Active discussions around forests and the changing climate, managing species at risk, and dealing with fire and pest outbreaks are happening not only here, but all across the country.

Canada’s forest products sector has long taken pride in balancing environmental and economic goals. You only need to talk to our foresters and biologists to realize that we are Canada’s greenest workforce.

Nearly one million Canadians directly and indirectly employed in the forest products sector rely on predictable access to wood fibre to run our mills to keep our supply chain moving. We’ve learned a lot over the years by working with Indigenous partners, governments, academics, professional foresters, scientists, wildlife experts, and environmental groups.

The responsible way in which we manage our forests is very much a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Canada is steward to 10 percent of the world’s forests, and Canada’s forest products sector manages the most third-party certified and audited forests on the planet. 

We’ve embraced world-leading environmental standards, spending millions every year on forest planning, and committing to continuous improvement using the latest research.
We’re proud of our world-leading reputation and maintaining this position is a job that we’re up for. It will take a committed effort. Canada’s forests are complex ecosystems with diverse species of trees and wildlife, warming temperatures, and unique local conditions.

As governments across the country get serious about addressing climate change and shifting to a low carbon economy, the forest sector is poised to play a leading role. We know that by 2030 we can deliver on 13 percent of the federal government’s commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement through our innovative forest practices, modernization at our mills, and our expansion of the use of existing and innovative carbon-storing products.

Climate change is a call to action for those of us in forestry.

Equally important to us is a better understanding of how we can work with communities across the country on a vision for the forest of the future — forests that help fight climate change and are without invasive pests; forests that can minimize the impacts of fire on our communities and maintain our access to quality wood fibre; forests that can support diverse wildlife and recreation alike; forests that provide the materials for sustainable low carbon products and continue to provide good jobs in communities that desperately need them.
As the national industry voice representing Canada’s forest products industry, this is going to be our call to action as we meet with political and community leaders across the country in the weeks and months ahead.

It’s time to move away from the whack-a-mole approach to important one-off issues that are impacting outcomes for our forests and forestry families, and to turn our attention to a clearer vision for the forest of the future. A vision that sets clear goals and objectives for our desired environmental outcomes, and one that makes it a priority to sustain and grow jobs in rural and northern communities.

FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $67-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2 percent of Canada’s GDP and operates in hundreds of communities, providing 230,000 direct jobs across the country.