To the editor;
Who’s looking after B.C.’s forests?
After the massive reorganization of the natural resources ministries this fall, taxpayers may wonder who is looking after B.C.’s forests. People have expressed concern that because government has reorganized itself with respect to B.C. resources, our forests are now worse off.
While it’s good to ask ourselves if these organizational changes will help with natural resources management in B.C., it is important not to lose sight of the reality on the ground and the role that forest professionals play. Some of the issues that forest professionals are currently dealing with include:
• 5.7 million hectares (twice the size of Vancouver Island) of forested land was consumed by mountain pine beetle at its peak in 2007. Silviculture policies need to be in place to ensure these trees are replaced.
• Over 300,000 hectares of forest was disturbed by wildfire in 2010. We need to ensure that communities surrounded by forests are protected, with active planning and implementation of fire management.
• Climate change affects the very nature of forest ecosystems. We need to predict and test management alternatives, such as which type of trees will grow where. Research needs to continue on changes to forest species and the effects of innovative management approaches on the resilience of our forest ecosystems.
• Increasing demand for use of the same forested land base by multiple sectors such as oil and gas, mining, forestry and recreation. Setting clear and consistent objectives with a coordinated approach to the land by government needs to happen.
A comprehensive and collective approach is necessary to organize our resources to mitigate the negative affects of these and other challenges. To the province’s credit, one of the essential components of this approach has been in place since 1947; a forestry profession composed of professionals who have the education and experience to deal with these issues. They belong to the Association of British Columbia Forest Professionals and they are either Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs) or Registered Forest Technologists (RFTs). They work for government, industry, consultants, environmental groups, communities, First Nations, and everyone else who works on the forested land base. They are bound by a Code of Ethics which requires them to:
• Uphold professional principles above the demands of employment.
• Be bound to standards of professional practice regarding competence, independence, integrity, due diligence, stewardship and safety.
Through the Foresters Act the Association of BC Forest Professionals is legally required to uphold the public interest respecting the practice of professional forestry by insuring the competent, independent and professional conduct of our members.
Regardless of how the regulatory framework is organized, Registered Professional Foresters and Registered Forest Technologists work with other professionals in resource management such as biologists, agrologists and engineers to provide the advice and direction to ensure that sustainable forest management is practiced in this province.
From the perspective of the Association of BC Forest Professionals, we want to keep the dialogue going with government to better understand how this reorganization affects our members, forest stewardship, landscape planning and professional reliance.
However, as long as we maintain a system where we have forest professionals working in the natural resource sector, we will continue to ensure that BC remains a world leader in practicing sustainable forestry.
Sharon L. Glover, MBA
CEO, Association of BC Forest Professionals
Received by email
The Association of BC Forest Professionals (est. 1947) ensures that British Columbia’s forests are in good hands. It registers and regulates professional foresters and forest technologists under authority of the Foresters Act. The association has more than 5,600 members, including registered professional foresters, registered forest technologists and those working towards registration in BC. It is the largest professional forestry association in Canada and the first to include forest technologists.