Things are different in Prince George.
Forests Minister Rich Coleman noticed that in the submissions to the forestry roundtable which stopped in the city on Saturday morning.
“We’re getting more submissions here about bio-energy,” he told a media conference near the end of the Prince George session, “and less on tenure reform.”
He suspects the history of the area may play a role in that.
“In this area, there is, I think, a longer-standing relationship with First Nations, and the people here realize tenure reform is not a panacea, not an answer for everything.”
The biggest thing he sees coming out of the roundtable, which will continue meetings around the province in the coming months, is an awareness for people of the need to “shift our thinking a bit” when it comes to forests.
“Traditionally the AAC [annual allowable cut] has been based on saw logs. In reality, the AAC could be sustained at a higher level than it is now with a parallel industry to use some of the timber.
“This roundtable is to get people thinking about the future.”
Coleman said there are some aspects of the problems facing the forest industry which neither the roundtable or the whole B.C. forest industry could fix on their own.
“The whole country, for instance, has to change its attitude to solid waste in all forms, not just wood waste.”
He said the market system in place would ensure that if people came up with uses for the beetle-kill wood, it would be harvested.
“The way they’ll get the wood out faster is if someone is willing to pay for it.”
Coleman also made it very clear the government was not using the roundtable as a way to find alternatives to the forest industry.
“There is no way we’re moving away from the forest industry. The Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition made a major presentation to us this morning.
“What we are doing is trying to come up with new ideas for the industry.”