Government documents show minister misleading public on benefits of forestry reforms

 VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberal government can’t demonstrate that wide-spread changes to the way the public forests are managed will bring any benefit to job creation, strengthen the land base, or serve the public interest, say the New Democrats.

New Democrat forestry critic Norm Macdonald says a Freedom of Information response obtained by the Opposition shows that the proposed changes could harm the public interest and may not help create jobs in forestry.

“Last year, the forest minister told the legislature that there was ‘no debate’ about the benefits of converting volume-based tenures into Tree Farm Licences (TFLs), but our review of these documents shows that is not the case,” said Macdonald.

The results of the FOI request show the government sitting on peer-reviewed science highlighting potential harm to forestry; an internal briefing note says that there are “many challenges associated with shifting to more area-based tenures, which government must consider before moving in this direction.”

Macdonald added that forestry companies are divided on whether the proposed changes should even be considered at this time.

“The ministry is now embarking on a questionable consultative process with the public, but any consultation that is based on this misinformation from the government is an insult to every British Columbian who values our forest lands,” said Macdonald.