Forests 'in crisis' need fixing, say industry groups

Provincial and industry experts coming to Kamloops for town hall meeting

Kamloops forestry workers are being asked to rally behind a push to fix a broken industry.

It's time to talk about the "crisis in B.C. forests," says the B.C. Federation of Labour.

On Wednesday, the organization is bringing provincial and industry experts to Kamloops to address what they call the mismanagement of forests.

It's part of a series of town hall meetings being held across the province.

The Interior forest inventory is in its worst shape ever as a result of mountain pine beetle, over-harvesting and government budget cuts, according to and auditor general audit made public last February.

Supply is constrained not only by limited volumes but poor quality.

Mills are shutting down due to supply problems. Ardew Wood Products in Merritt ceased operations Jan. 11 after 47 years in the community, taking 55 jobs with it.

The mountain pine beetle epidemic will have killed about 60 per cent of all Interior pine trees by 2020 permanently reducing lumber production in around 2014, according to the report.

In the meantime, the province's approach is not helping companies struggling to find supply.

"Existing management practices are insufficient to offset a trend toward future forests having a lower timber supply and less species diversity in some areas," said Auditor General John Doyle in his report.

The tour comes to the Coast Kamloops Hotel & Conference Centre on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m.

Crowds will have a chance to suggest ways to draw attention to the issues and solutions for change.

"Years of government staffing cuts, deregulation and mismanagement have created a crisis in B.C.'s forests," said Darryl Walker, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU).

"We need to work together to demand that government invest in research, reforestation, and compliance and enforcement to ensure healthy forests today, and in the future."

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News