words: Water Sustainability Act Legislative ProposalPFLA continues to work diligently to ensure the perspective of managed forest owners is represented at all levels of the public policy process—municipal, provincial and federal.

We strive to maintain regular communications with elected officials, ministry staff and community members and remain actively engaged on a number of policy files important and relevant to forest owners across the province.

Here’s an update on four key areas we’re currently focused on.

1. Water Sustainability Act

Through an extensive consultation process, underway since 2009, the B.C. Ministry of Environment has developed a detailed proposal for the Water Sustainability Act.

The proposed Water Sustainability Act will update and replace the existing Water Act (B.C.’s primary piece of water management legislation established in 1909). The provincial government is seeking feedback, one last time, before introducing a final version in the legislature in 2014.

Here’s the link to the Ministry of Environment’s website where you can review the Water Sustainability Act proposal, along with a detailed list of ways to participate in the process.

It’s important to note: the ministry’s online consultation initiative has attracted considerable attention from a broad range of stakeholders, both regionally and internationally, as well as interested parties not directly effected by the legislation.

PFLA is preparing a detailed document for submission to ensure private forest interests are considered, but we encourage individual owners to participate as well. Given the reach of, and response to, the online process, it’s critical to balance the submissions received so far with factual input from people who live, manage and work in the areas directly effected by the legislation.

The final submission date is Friday, November 15th, 2013. (We apologize for the short notice, but this process is well underway, and apparently moving faster than a west coast stream in November.)

The Water Sustainability Act is an important piece of legislation for managed forest owners and PFLA continues to make this policy file a priority. We look forward to your comments and suggestions.

2. Species at Risk Act: Northern Goshawk

In our June 2013 Policy Update, we informed you about PFLA and CAFO’s participation in a federal process, lead by Parks Canada, to develop a recovery plan for the Northern Goshawk under the Species at Risk Act.

To date, PFLA continues to work closely with federal and provincial staff members to ensure the best available science, and on-the-ground information about the habitat situation for Northern Goshawks in second-growth managed forests, is understood and incorporated into the policy process.

PFLA members recently participated in a workshop, held at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, October 23-24, 2013, designed to bring together scientists, experts and experienced practitioners to share knowledge about the Northern Goshawk species.

The roughly 30 participants of the 2-day workshop included a wide range of stakeholders with a deep level of expertise about Northern Goshawks: industry representatives, ministry staff, professional biologists—government, industry and independents—as well as, ENGOs and First Nations representatives.

The intention of the workshop was to exchange science, information and observations about the Northern Goshawk—how they live, how they breed, how they feed, how they respond to disturbances in the landscape and how they adapt to managed forests: Ultimately, to reconcile perceptions about their needs and sensitivities with decades of observations and solid data about how the birds actually interact with their environment.

It’s important to note: the workshop did not result in an immediate meeting of the minds. There are some significant gaps between long-held assumptions about the habitat conditions Goshawks need to thrive (e.g. older-age and undisturbed forest types) and the younger, managed forest conditions the birds have consistently demonstrated (over several decades) they thrive in.

Moving forward, the experience and on-the-ground insights of managed forest practitioners will continue to offer a significant and valuable contribution to the process. To that end, PFLA members remain committed to protecting endangered species and working with government to develop effective and responsible recovery plans.

3. CVRD Air Quality Program

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is taking the initiative to identify opportunities, and take positive steps at a regional level, to improve air quality and minimize health risks associated with pollution.

As part of the feedback gathering process to develop the air quality program, the CVRD hosted a well-attended workshop in Duncan on October 30, 2013. PFLA was among the broad range of participants in attendance: health authority members, Ministry of Environment staff, local government officials, industry representatives, forest owners. We were pleased to see a strong emphasis on science, monitoring and analyzing data—from air quality information, to health impacts to hospital admissions.

As far as we’re aware, the CVRD is the first regional government, with private managed forests in its boundaries, to undertake such an intense and thorough look at air quality issues, risks and solutions. We’re proud of the excellent track record PFLA members have as responsible stewards; however, it’s important to remain engaged with these processes and educate elected officials and community members about the procedures and regulations we follow to minimize the amount of smoke our operations generate.

4. Market Access

PFLA continues to focus considerable attention and effort on the Market Access (or lack thereof) file. Over the past 2 years, we’ve seen significant increases in the demand and prices paid for lumber and veneer. During the same time, domestic log prices continue to flat line at a woefully low rate compared to international prices. This phenomenon further demonstrates the lack of a healthy functioning log market in British Columbia.

PFLA understands how critical diverse and competitive market access is to our members. We’re working diligently to bring this politically contentious matter to government’s attention, both federally and provincially, and continue to advocate for a resolution to the problem: specifically, our ongoing inability to obtain globally competitive prices for our fibre and return fair value to our forests.