By Steve Thomson
As B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, I’m pleased to celebrate National Forest Week. This year’s theme, Healthy Forests – Healthy Communities, provides an opportunity to reflect on how forests and communities are connected.
This year the province celebrates the centennial birthday of the BC Forest Service. For the past 100 years, the BC Forest Service has managed and protected our forests so we all can enjoy the benefits they offer.
Whether providing great economic benefits – accounting for over 53,000 direct jobs supporting families all around the province, or recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, our forests play a significant role in local communities.
B.C. continues to be a world leader in sustainable forest management and maintains its commitment to the environment by producing more lumber certified to environmental standards that any other region in the world.
Over the past year, B.C.’s forest industry has benefited from a positive 15 per cent increase in lumber prices, and to the end of June, a 17 per cent increase in lumber exports to the U.S., compared to the same time last year.
Both of these increases are helping local mills prosper and supporting jobs.
As B.C.’s forest sector continues its recovery from 2009, we still face challenges like the mountain pine beetle.
On August 15, 2012, the Special Committee on Timber Supply released a report that provides 20 recommendations to increase the timber supply and value of mid-term timber in B.C.’s Interior forests.
A number of the recommendations reflect actions already underway by the ministry, and we will work closely with communities, First Nations and stakeholders to implement all of the report’s recommendations.
I can assure you the ministry’s response to the committee’s recommendations will provide a solid foundation for us to move forward and will address the needs of communities and families in the region.
Our forests are not 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, I hope you take the opportunity to enjoy our forests firsthand.
For more information about National Forest Week including events happening around the province, resources for teachers and students and ideas for how to celebrate visit: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/pab/nfw/2012/
Steve Thomson is the Minister for Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the MLA for Kelowna-Mission.