Woodworking unions and environmentalists propose bold new plan to protect forests and jobs while fighting climate change

January 11, 2010

Vancouver — Forest industry unions and leading environmental groups have united behind a plan that calls on the BC government to conserve more forest, halt rampant wood waste and promote wise use of forest products — all as part of a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have joined forces, post Copenhagen, to say that BC must lead by example with innovations that fully promote carbon storage in our forests and forest products,” says Ben Parfitt, the plan’s author and resource policy analyst with the BC Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “Today’s report represents an entirely new approach to managing BC’s forests, rethinking what we do through the lens of maximizing carbon capture.”

“Woodworkers and environmentalists alike understand that we have a golden opportunity to move in a new direction that makes our forests more resilient in the face of climate change and that better positions our forest industry and rural resource towns for the new, green economy,” Parfitt adds.

Managing BC’s Forests for a Cooler Planet: Carbon Storage, Sustainable Jobs and Conservation, was released jointly today by the CCPA; BC Government and Service Employees’ Union; Communications, Energy and Paperworkers of Canada; David Suzuki Foundation; Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada; Sierra Club BC; United Steelworkers District 3 – Western Canada; and Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

The report calls for:

  • Increased forest conservation
  • Longer timeframes between logging
  • Replacing the current calculation of how much forest is logged — the AAC or Allowable Annual Cut — with an entirely new approach based on the carbon stored in trees and known as the Carbon Cut Calculation or CCC
  • Accounting for all the carbon stored in forest products
  • Ending unacceptably high wood waste at logging operations
  • New tree plantations that are planted specifically to store carbon
  • Promoting wood as the most climate-friendly building material
  • A focused, but cautious approach to wood-fired energy or “bio-energy”
  • A true no net deforestation policy
  • Accounting for all forest carbon credits and debits

In the absence of such efforts, the report warns of more devastation ahead as forest insect attacks increase in severity and more forest fires burn.

“This plan would truly set BC on an exciting new course. More trees would be planted; better use made of solid wood products that store carbon; and rampant wood waste at logging operations brought to an end: waste that costs us 2,400 forest industry jobs each year and that increases BC’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent,” says Scott Lunny of the United Steelworkers District 3.
"We are happy to support this action plan that recognizes the invaluable role of forest conservation in addressing the climate crisis," says Ben West, Healthy Communities campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. "Environmentalists are now on the same side as forestry workers because we all want sustainable jobs and real world solutions that respect the realities of the challenges we face. This innovative plan is a real opportunity for BC to play a leadership role in finding the equitable and sustainable solutions that we needed at the failed Copenhagen climate negotiations."

Managing BC’s Forests for a Cooler Planet: Carbon Storage, Sustainable Jobs and Conservation is available at www.policyalternatives.ca/coolforests. For more information or interviews with Ben Parfitt, Scott Lunny, Ben West or George Heyman of Sierra Club BC, contact Sarah Leavitt at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: 604-801-5121 ext 233 or sarah [at] policyalternatives [dot] ca.