New Forestry Agreements With BC First Nations Will Expedite Wildfire Log Salvage Process

On Wednesday (11-16-22), the British Columbia government unveiled a new approach to provincial forestry agreements that will lead to faster action on harvesting areas damaged by wildfires, which in turn will provide more timber for mills and set up faster reforestation through the leadership of First Nations.

The new Wildfire Salvage Opportunity Agreements (WSOAs) will enable the timely direct award of forestry licenses to First Nations for salvaging timber damaged by wildfires. Streamlining the process to harvest timber affected by wildfire will support mills by ensuring they can access fire-damaged logs before they degrade and still have commercial value.

Recent record-breaking wildfires have created a significant volume of fire-damaged timber, far outstripping the ability of forest companies to harvest the areas in a timely manner. Wildfires affected more than 864,000 hectares of forests in 2021, with only approximately 5% of the area expected to be salvaged this year.

WSOAs will provide an opportunity for First Nations to secure salvage timber volumes under license, adding to the work that forest companies are already performing. The agreements will increase harvest activities in fire-damaged forests, while providing meaningful employment and economic benefits to communities. One of the additional benefits is that expedited harvesting creates the opportunity to rehabilitate forest lands faster, through silviculture and forest regrowth.

The Ministry of Forests will negotiate specific WSOAs with First Nations, which will expand Indigenous participation in the forestry sector and reflect the provincial commitment under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. Licenses issued under WSOAs will be short-term (between one and three years), with timber volumes expected in the range of 2,000 to 50,000 cubic meters.

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