Apr 22, 2011

If Our Forests Count Then It’s Time to Count


Judging by the comments published in response to an opinion piece that Anthony Britneff and I co-wrote and that The Province newspaper published this week, there is growing concern within the ranks of the provincial Forest Service and in the professional forestry community over the current state of health of our publicly owned forests.

Inventories – the counting and assessment of plant life in our forests – is essential if we are to have any chance of managing the full range of values in our forests. If we don’t have sufficient information on what we have, we can’t hope to manage it in the public interest.

British Columbia’s publicly owned forests are an incredible asset, worthy of increased inventory efforts.

As Anthony and I note our Province op-ed:

If you had a stock inventory narrowly valued at $250 billion, would you want to know how quickly it is depleted and replenished?

That, by the way, is the estimated value of the available, commercially desirable trees in B.C.’s publicly owned forests. If you consider the additional values our forests have as carbon storehouses, the protector of water resources, the life-support system for numerous plants and animals and the source of tens of thousands of jobs, you could perhaps quadruple that value.

To adequately fund effective forest inventory efforts will require an infusion of at least another $16 million per year in each of the next 10 years. This is not a great deal of money in the broad scheme of things, and Anthony and I lay out simple policy solutions that would secure that funding from our forests.
In a nutshell, the public is being consistently short-changed because our province undervalues our trees. Too many forest companies pay too little for the trees they log on public lands. It’s time to bring stumpage or timber-cuttings fees up to a more appropriate level and to reinvest some of the increased revenues in doing the critically important inventory or counting work that needs to be done.



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