To the editor;
Last month Trudeau announced an oil industry subsidy, hoping public-funded bailouts with public shaming would nudge clean up of environmental messes and abandoned wells. This government/industry/environment triumvirate maybe what we need for post COVID recovery.
Then Horgan’s NDP/Greens announced BC’s COVID Economic Recovery Task Force. Conspicuously absent were any environmental and first nation organizations knowledgeable in biodiversity and climate change. The Swedes, who integrate the environment with the economy, know that “photosynthesis pays the bills.”
April 30, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations Rural Development, announced; “COVID-19 just added to challenges facing our forest sector. The B.C. government is deferring stumpage fees (rent) it charges to help industrial forest companies navigate through the crisis.”
This is exactly what industry has been pushing for long before COVID, citing “weak markets, high operating costs, wildfires and pine beetle” as reasons for laying off employees. It is disingenuous of government to connect this subsidy to the virus.
The last time the forestry industry told us they were in crisis, the 2003 outbreak of the mountain pine beetle, federal and BC taxpayers provided $1.3 billion in emergency funds to the BC forest industry. The outcome of these funds in central BC is a ‘blown out’ landscape, a failed forest economy, accompanied by large negative cumulative effects.
If BC wants to reboot the economy, furnish jobs and help the environment like the Fed’s post-COVID hat trick, there are a few ways forestry can feed our families. Offer the 6,000 jobless alternative forestry jobs similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Erosion control: check dams, terracing, culvert upgrades. 1000s of kilometres of legacy road deactivation, reseeding.
Flood control: drainage, dams, ditching.
Landscape: recreation campground development.
Wildlife: habitat restoration, food and cover planting, stream improvement, fish stocking.
Forest protection: fire prevention, and firefighting.
Range: Barbwire removal, some estimate this ‘stranded’ asset at 50,000 km.
Forest culture: planting shrubs, timber stand improvement, seed collection, nursery work, and thinning.
Many people would argue that viruses worldwide are telling us to reduce deforestation, not increase it. Why not subsidize today’s jobless with environmental work that does not remove old growth, community watershed or caribou habitat trees yet still boosts the economy? I agree with the late Peter Drucker: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself, it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”