B.C. is a lucky province.
Not only are we blessed with a wide variety of natural resources, from coal to gold, but we also have two renewable resources in abundance: hydropower and forests.
That is if we don’t squander them. Unlike provinces that rely on say, oil resources, which are finite, our forests have the potential to feed our provincial economy for centuries if they are managed properly.
The two keywords in that last statement are “managed” and “properly,” which are both hard to pull off. After all, for decades the path to profit in the forest has been to extract as much fibre as possible at the lowest cost.
Luckily, the old model is changing and forest companies are recognizing that long-term profits come with preserving and enhancing the forest for the future.
One good example is Deadwood Innovations of Fort St. James, a new company developing a process to make use of all kinds of wood fibre, including some that would be discarded, like beetle-kill.
Of course, even the best forest management can take decades, or centuries in the case of old growth to replace what was lost through logging. A clear-cut can be replanted, but it will be a long time before that wood is ready to be harvested again.
It boils down to two maxims we’ve all heard: waste not, want not and don’t take more than you need. That is, make full use of what you take and don’t take more than can be replaced.
There is a lot of research going into what makes a healthy forest, which also bodes well for the future as we learn more about how the complex forest ecosystem works and how to have as light a touch on it as possible.
We’ve been given a great gift in the form of this province’s forest. It’s up to us to be responsible stewards of the forests as well as end users.