Forest Products and Fibre Backgrounder

Highlights of the OBAC Future Forest Products and Fibre Use Strategy

The Context

The Omineca Beetle Action Coalition (OBAC) was formed in 2005 to ”Work to ensure sustainable development and resiliency for the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition region".

With financial support and a mandate from the provincial government OBAC is led by a Board of Directors representing the region’s Mayors and Regional District Chairs. OBAC is working with its member communities, First Nations, all levels of government, industry and sector representatives, academic institutions, and allied partner organizations to develop regional diversification plans that build resilient communities during and after the pine beetle epidemic. OBAC is putting forward long-term strategies that are designed to mitigate the social and economic impacts of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

The OBAC region spans more than eighteen million hectares from Smithers to Valemount and includes two regional districts and their rural communities, twelve municipalities, and more than twenty First Nations communities. At least fifty percent of our region’s forests are pine and thirty-seven percent of the jobs in the region depend directly on forestry. Eighty percent of the mature pine forest is expected to be dead within six years as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic currently afflicting the forests of central BC.

The Future Forest Products and Fibre Use Strategy is the fourth of the twelve identified strategies to be developed. The purpose of this strategy is to identify what actions need to be taken by key decision-makers to support a diversified and resilient forest sector which makes the best use of the region’s great forest and human resources. Many of the recommended actions require action by both the provincial and federal governments. This strategy also identifies what action local government, First Nations, industry and community leaders can take individually, collectively and in concert with senior governments to achieve this goal.

The forest sector has been and will continue to be a key component of the economy of the OBAC region. However, the make-up of the traditional forest sector will change over the next 10 to 15 years. The range of products flowing from the forest resource and the participants in the forest sector will differ significantly from the current scenario. In part, this is a function of the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the impact it has had on the composition and nature of the region’s forests. However the range of products flowing from the region’s forests will continue to broaden to include new timber and non-timber products. A stronger forest sector should emerge and the communities of the region should see increase benefits from its considerable forest resources.

The Vision

The communities of the OBAC region envision a diverse forest sector that: builds upon our strength in the sustainable use and regeneration of forests; produces a diverse range of timber and non-timber forest products, encouraging a diverse range of business models and partners; balances the need for quick responses to changing circumstances and opportunities in the forest and in markets and, the need for business certainty; operates under a regulatory environment that cultivates innovation; and, continues to manage the forest resource for additional important forest values including ecological services and cultural values. In 10 years time, OBAC communities want to be home to a robust forest products sector characterized by the following objectives:

Objective 1. Increased community benefits from forest resources.

Objective 2. A diversified and strengthen forest sector.

Objective 3. Stronger working partnerships and communication among First nations, local communities, government and the forest sector.

Objective 4. The ability to train and retain the required work force.

Objective 5. A climate of ownership and pride in the region’s forest resources.

Objective 6. A forest that is managed now to meet future needs and opportunities.

In order to achieve this vision and these objectives, this strategy identifies four recommendations and twenty actions, which if implemented, will enable the OBAC region to achieve its vision objectives mentioned above. The recommendations include:

Recommendation 1:

Increase the benefits that communities can rely upon from forest resources and forestry.

Recommendation 2:

Ensure that the forest sector remains a strong economic contributor to the region.

Recommendation 3:

Recognize MPB impacted stands as a valuable asset, which should be used to its full potential before its commercial value is depleted.

Recommendation 4:

Increase awareness and understanding of the long-term viability of the forest sector.

There are over twenty actions proposed across these recommendations that can be implemented to build a supportive environment to diversify and create opportunities in the forest sector. The detailed actions, rationales, and timelines are presented under each of the recommendations in Section 6 of the full strategy. The overall implementation of this strategy will require key and timely decisions by the Provincial and Federal Governments. Selected proposed actions where priority opportunities exist include:

  • Provide all communities in the region with a more direct role in forest management and in the benefits derived from the region’s forests.
  • Incorporate community resilience considerations into major forest management decision-making and establish quantified and specific land use objectives that consider the objectives expressed by local communities and First Nations.
  • Improve and enhance transportation infrastructure and services.
  • Provide more equitable and diverse access for existing and new users of fibre.
  • Increase the range of products produced from the region’s forest resources and starting by determining which high value and locally wealth generating products are best suited for production from this region’s assets.
  • Ensure that dead pine stands are managed in a manner which optimizes their economic and environmental utility.
  • Create a positive and competitive business climate for bio-energy development through an integrated policy, regulatory, tenure and pricing environment.

Next Steps

This strategy tells us the “what, who, when and why”, the next step is to determine “how to and how much” it will take to achieve the goal. The immediate next steps include:

  • Following release of the strategy, bring together senior staff from relevant government agencies to work with OBAC to quickly develop a Future Forest Products and Fibre Use Action Plan that presents details on “how to and how much” for implementation.
  • Work with senior governments and other implementation allies to enable implementation of the Future Forest Products and Fibre Use Action Plan and integrate actions across strategies.