Community engagement sessions are scheduled to take place next week in Williams Lake and Quesnel on two draft agreements to conserve southern mountain caribou populations.
President & CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries, Susan Yurkovich says they are currently doing an analysis on how it will affect the forest industry.
“If you’re taking a large tract out of the timber harvesting land base there’s no question that that will have an impact and it will hit I think some communities where the forest sector is a very dominate employer,” Yurkovich says.
“So we’re making sure that our companies are aware of the proposals, making sure we have our questions answered, concerns are raised, and we want to make sure we fully understand if things move forward what the economic impact will be and what will the impact be on communities in and around the region where these agreements will have impacts.”
Yurkovich believes the topic will come up as it did last year at the 2019 COFI Convention taking place today (Wednesday, April 3) through Friday (April 5) in Vancouver.
Forestry generates one in five jobs in three regions: Cariboo (22%), Northeast (20%) and North Coast & Nechako (19%).
The Wilderness Committee and Greenpeace Canada says while negotiations were well underway between the federal and provincial governments and First Nations to create an effective caribou conservation plan, the B.C. government continued approving cutblocks in critical habitat.
They said in a joint statement B.C. has greenlighted the logging of 314 new cutblocks in the critical habitat of southern mountain caribou across B.C. in the past four months alone.
“The provincial government needs to come out and protect what’s left of the core critical habitat and they need to do this so the federal government doesn’t actually step in and issue an emergency order because is what will happen if the provincial government continues to fail on protecting caribou,”Charlotte Dawe, conservation and policy campaigner for the Wilderness Committee told MyCaribooNow.
“At the end of the day you can shoot as many wolves as you like but if caribou don’t have habitat to live in with old growth trees and lichen growing from those old growths they’re not going to survive. So any long term recovery measure needs to include protecting the critical habitat and it’s just been hammered away at for so long that we really need to save what’s left before it’s too late.”
Southern Caribou herds in B.C have dropped from a population of 2,500 animals in the mid-90s to 1,200 animals.
The two draft agreements have been developed under section 11 of the federal Species at Risk Act.
“A draft section 11 agreement between British Columbia and Canada sets a framework for co-operation between the two governments to recover southern mountain caribou,” said the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The community engagement sessions take place in Williams Lake on Monday, April 8 at the Gibraltar Room from 5:30 to 9:30 pm with the session in Quesnel scheduled for Thursday, April 11 from 5:30 to 9:30 pm at the Quesnel & District Seniors Centre.
The Province will be accepting feedback on the Draft Section 11 and Draft Partnership Agreement Between B.C., Canada, West Moberly, and Saulteau First Nations until May 3, 2019, at 4 pm.
(Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comment by the Wilderness Committee and Greenpeace Canada)