By Steve Thomson
As B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, I’m pleased to celebrate National Forest Week, in this International Year of Forests.
This year’s theme for both National Forest Week and International Year of Forests is Forests for People. This provides a great opportunity to reflect on the benefits our forests provide.
B.C.’s forest sector continues to provide great economic benefits – accounting for over 55,000 direct jobs supporting families all around the province, and contributing $7.3 billion to the province’s GDP.
With a number of mills reopening around the province, including mills in Kitwanga, Midway, Savona and Vavenby, hundreds of workers are back on the job and communities are seeing the benefits of the forest sector as it continues to recover.
With lumber exports still on the rise and exponentially increasing demand from China, British Columbians will continue to benefit from increased demand for our wood products.
We are also diversifying the forest economy – now over 50 communities are enjoying the benefits of forestry by managing local community forests for local values.
As well, 144 First Nations are enjoying the benefits of forestry through revenue-sharing agreements and direct access to timber resources.
But forests aren’t only about jobs. We manage our forests for a multitude of values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, cultural heritage and recreation, to name just a few.
During National Forest Week, get out into the woods and take time to enjoy one of the 1,200 recreation sites or 800 trails around the province.
Steve Thomson is the provincial Member of the Legislative Assembly for Kelowna-Mission in the Okanagan Valley.
To see a video message, and to learn more about National Forest Week activities across B.C., visit www.for.gov.bc.ca/pab/nfw online.