Federal Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn appointed the final five members of the Mountain Pine Beetle Advisory Board, Tuesday.
The list includes two forestry town mayors, one First Nations chief, two leading scientists, the Cariboo Regional District chairman, the head of the Quesnel economic development agency, former Prince George real estate agent Brian Pearson, a mining industry specialist and president of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI).
Certainly each member brings skill, knowledge and important regional perspectives to the table.
However, the question is do we need another board examining the mountain pine beetle epidemic?
We already have the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, Forest Research Opportunity B.C., COFI, researchers at universities like UNBC, the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Development Initiative Trust and other agencies working on various aspects of the same issue.
There are many different ways to combat the spread of the mountain pine beetle and mitigate the economic impact on forestry-dependent communities, but red tape and committees are not among them. If the mountain pine beetle could be consulted and discussed to death, we would not longer have an infestation.
There is enough expertise and knowledge out there for government to tap into without adding a further layer of committees. It is time to stop talking about what to do and just do it. An imperfect plan, well executed in a timely manner, can have more impact than a perfect plan that comes too late.
There is some well-identified infrastructure needs in the north lets build it.
Local communities groups have ideas for projects to diversify their local economies let’s fund them. There are changes to forest practices which could reduce the impact of the beetle on the current and future forest industry let’s do them.
The socio-economic impact of these changes aren’t certain some may fail or fall short of their objectives.
But the consequences of inaction are certain and we cannot afford them.