August 18, 2017
Volume 17, Issue 16

Warning: Some of the opinions expressed in this edition may contain facts.

Will This Summer’s Smoke Focus the Need for a BC Wildfire Natural Hazard Policy?

Getting to be a BC summer pastime; tourists watch a chopper work on another interface wildfire.

Kelowna 2003, Slave Lake 2011, Fort McMurray 2016, this year’s provincial wildfire emergency, and let’s not forget the almost catastrophic near-miss of 2015 when 138 campers narrowly escaped a fast-moving wildfire near Rock Creek B.C. Each of these represents a possible “focusing event” for governments to enact effective policies to reduce the province’s vulnerability to wildfire and better adapt to climate change. But it’s obvious from current events and recent reports that our governments’ commitment to reducing this natural hazard threat, so far, have tended to be uneven at best. In general natural disasters tend to be a low public priority until the moment they strike. After disasters public and policy makers’ interest in disaster preparation, mitigation and relief increases. But that interest tends to fade until the next disaster, rekindling interest and repeating the cycle.

One way to break this pattern is to realize disastrous wildfire seasons themselves will not make governments act to implement policy to mitigate damage from future disasters. These events will only be opportunities for change if there is coordinated pressure on policy makers from the technical/professional community, policy entrepreneurs and the public. Our BC government is now dealing with one of the worst fire seasons on record. The good news is that it also has a chance to make this summer a true “focusing event” in reducing our vulnerability to disastrous wildfires. They can do that by working in part with interest groups that could offer needed technical and scientific expertise. The WFCA would welcome a process along those lines leading to ways to make communities and the landscape more resilient in the face of wild fire rather than disaster zones, which seems to be where we are headed.

Annual Allowable Cut Going Down

Since January 1 of this year Provincial Chief Forester Diane Nicholls has been busy having made three TFL and six TSA annual allowable cut determinations. On the Coast, four TSA changes have occurred including the reorganization of the previous North Coast, Central Coast, Kingcome and Strathcona TSA’s into the Great Bear North, Great Bear South and North Island TSA’s. In aggregate, the changes to these TSA’s resulted in a net reduction of over 593,000 cubic metres of AAC or fully 17% of the pre-Great Bear Rainforest Act AAC.

In the Interior, two TSA AAC decisions were seen in both the Quesnel and Invermere TSA. Both resulted in reductions to the cut. In aggregate, these determinations resulted in a cut reduction of about 2.2 million cubic metres. With more AAC determinations on the horizon it is clear that the AAC in a post MPB word will be less.

Speaking of Volume, What About Value?

That this is an old, almost classic, forestry question is no reason not to ask it again. It has connections to the question of the merits of managing to free growing. (Or maybe we could rephrase that to say, the questioning of the merits of managing to free growing.) It relates to timber supply, stocking standards and job creation as well. On that last point we include this table comparing some of BC’s forestry activities to Sweden as recently shared with us by one of our forester friends. The facts kind of speak for themselves, we think, on the potential for BC job creation in forestry and increasing the quality our timber resource if we concentrate on producing timber value rather than volume.

CHART re…etc