Taking another 700,000 hectares of B.C. forest out of production is another setback to an industry struggling with a declining timber base and continued trade barriers, B.C. and Canadian forest industry associations say.
“This permanent removal further shrinks the working forest and will have negative impacts on forestry workers, communities and regional economies,” B.C. Council of Forest Industries CEO Susan Yurkovich and Forest Products Association of Canada CEO Derek Nighbor said in a joint statement Friday.
The agreement, announced by federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and three B.C. cabinet ministers in Vancouver Friday, centres around the Klinse-Za caribou herd northwest of Chetwynd.
The Mining Association of B.C. indicated its support for the agreement, worked out behind closed doors after years of maternity penning and wolf kills conducted with the West Moberly and Saulteaux First Nations, and Ottawa’s warnings that it would impose its own protections using species at risk legislation unless there was an agreement.
“We’ve already contributed significant resources toward the research, recovery and conservation of their habitat, including releasing some 400,000 hectares of high-value habitat from potential mining activity and contributing over $6 million towards research, habitat restoration and Indigenous-led maternal penning programs,” said Michael Goehring, CEO of the Mining Association of B.C.
Both associations pledged to continuing to work with the federal and provincial governments to reverse the decline of B.C.’s 54 identified caribou herds, mostly along the Rocky Mountains from the East Kootenay to the Peace region west of Fort St. John.