The 2019 multiple sawmill closures in B.C.'s Interior did not come out of the blue. Similar sawmill closures previously occurred on the coast, where 70 per cent of what existed in 1987 is now gone.
Many in B.C.'s resource sector, like myself, saw this coming for decades. Early symptoms were negative cumulative effects of large-scale clearcut logging on non-timber resource values.
To respond, the province has three forest policy options:
Status quo, with diminishing returns and hoping short-term outside market forces for commodity forest products will improve;
Economic diversification out of forestry - former BC logging and mill towns on Vancouver Island are already doing this (old growth is an asset);
Adaptation and diversification within forestry - first by managing for an ecologically sustainable forest, that is complex, resilient and self-renewing. This forest has the diversity, productivity, quality and value, within limits, to sustain us - economically, socially, and culturally.
A just transition for those negatively impacted by these adverse events will be part of every option.
The best decision makers have foresight and move towards quality and value in everything that is done. A restorative economy will include First Nations reconciliation, application of new knowledge and skills, improved forest stewardship, planning and governance;, economic restructuring and adaptation to climate change.
Ray Travers RFP (Ret)