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article imageB.C. forest recovery gets $150 million to combat climate change

By Karen Graham     Feb 19, 2017 in Environment
Vancouver - In its latest climate action plan, British Columbia is spending $150 million for forest rehabilitation and tree planting, while creating 3,000 jobs in rural parts of the province.
Premier Christy Clark announced a $150 million investment on Friday in the Forest Enhancement Society (FESBC) — a government-funded stewardship organization formed last year to restore fire-ravaged forests, reduce forest fire risk and increase forest carbon capture.
The $150 million is part of the province's 10-year commitment to put $800 million into forest replanting efforts, reports the Prince George Citizen. Clark said that while the province will continue to seek innovative ideas to help in meeting its climate goals, the planting of new trees is but one part of the overall plan.
"We must never forget that the most basic solution is Mother Nature's solution — and that's sequestering more carbon in our forests. Planting more trees is good for fighting climate change," she said at a news conference at Canfor Nursery in Prince George.
One of the very first projects undertaken by the FESBC was the rehabilitation of mountain beetle-damaged pine stands in an area outside Quesnel, near the communities of Nazko and Kluskus where forest stands are being treated and replanted. Jim Snetsinger, who was B.C.'s chief forester and is now vice-chair of the FESBC, is well versed on the mountain pine beetle.
"We're looking at areas where the forest industry is no longer interested in going in and harvesting those stands that have lost their ability to carry an economic operation," Snetsinger said, according to the Golden Star. "We'd be looking at stands that are damaged, and need to be rehabilitated and reforested. And we would go in and work with a partner, and those stands would be cleaned up."
There are critics of the province's reforestation plan claiming that silviculture will do little to mitigate climate change if the forests are eventually logged. CBC Canada quotes Mark Jaccard, the director of the Energy and Materials Research Group at SFU: "Planting trees is a foil that politicians have talked about and used for 30 years now as a way of avoiding reducing emissions from our burning of fossil fuels."
And Clark does say that the province is trying to reach new lumber markets. "We just sent the biggest shipment of bulk lumber to India ever, in Canadian history," she said. "We budgeted $5 million to start opening up new markets in India because we think that's the next China."
But it would seem to also be a win-win solution if silviculture was employed in a sustainable way. Well-managed forests can help to lessen the impact of climate change and also be economically beneficial.
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