Tuesday, September 23, 2008

National Forest Week

In the midst of National Forest Week, I started thinking about the theme for this year: "Canada's Forests - Biodiversity in a Changing World".

It is interesting how much the forestry sector has changed throughout the years. Instead of focusing on exports and softwood, value-added products are a key component to the British Columbia Forestry system. Alongside the value-added products is an emphasis on sustainable development and management of our forests and all associated industries.

The BC NDP caucus has developed a well-rounded plan to ensure that value added products are created within BC, and that the forest industry is available for generations to come. This plan - conveniently named "State of OUR Forests" - includes:
  • a green plan for B.C.'s forests,
  • develop a new approach to the forestry industry,
  • create a community and worker sustainability program
  • establish a permanent forestry commission in British Columbia
  • negotiate softwood lumber and tenure reform.
Interestingly, the theme for National Forest Week includes the idea of protecting the biodiversity of our forests, while adapting to a changing world. Taken from the National Forest Week website:
National Forest Week is a time to reflect on the important role that forests play in our daily lives and to celebrate Canadians' connection to the forest. The life of a forest may span many human lifetimes, yet it is possible to explore a forest’s past and influence its future. Maintaining a healthy forest depends on intricate relationships among the living things that make up that ecosystem – in other words, biodiversity.

Our knowledge of forest biodiversity, built over many generations, is key to understanding how a forest grows and changes over time. This insight, combined with the principles of conservation and sustainable forest management, helps us to use our forests responsibly.

Without being overly partisan, pieces of the BC NDP plan take into account the needs of communities who rely on the forests for their livelihood AND the takes the necessary steps to keep the forests around for future generations.

The Federal Scene

Yesterday, I attended the office opening for our Federal New Democrat candidates Bev Collins [Cariboo-Prince George], and Betty Bekkering [PG-Peace River].
It was a good opening, and I am certainly excited about the New Democrats prospects in this federal election. During my "speech" [really, it was just a friendly hello], I mentioned the lack of action from the Conservative Party of Canada - particularily in their soft-wood lumber agreement.
Frankly, the people of the North Cariboo deserve more than to be sold out by the likes of Dick Harris. Despite the monies promised to help those most critically affected by the mountain pine beetle infestation - compounded by the softwood lumber "deal" - the federal government has simply not delivered on their promises.
I hope this election brings light to issues that matter to Northern communities, and I encourage everyone to be vigilent in questioning your candidates on issues like carbon taxation, softwood lumber, affordability, and creating a stronger economy.
Meanwhile, outside of the hub-bub of the federal scene, my office is always open and available to residents of the North Cariboo. So please, come by anytime.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why OUR forests

For a long time now, the forests of British Columbia have been taken advantage of by external forces - governments in Ottawa that sell out on softwood lumber deals, provincial governments worried more about the latte crowd than the hard-working people living outside of the lower mainland.
While the Campbell government has been exporting raw logs - and the associated jobs - outside of British Columbia, 14,000 individuals have been laid off due to mill closures. That is 14,000 families that were affected by the inability of Mr. Campbell and former forestry minister Rich Coleman to protect the forestry industry.
This is why I am doing a "State of OUR Forests" tour throughout the province. I will be stopping in communities hit hardest by the pine beetle infestation and softwood sell-out. I want to bring a discussion - a debate - about how to improve our forestry industry. The Forests of British Columbia belong to you. You are the key stakeholders, and YOU are the people who have the power to decide what will be done with the forests of British Columbia.
After each stop on my tour, I invite you to share your thoughts here and keep the discussion going beyond each town hall.