PHOTO CREDIT AND CONTENT REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF WFCA
Spring 2019 BCTS and MFLNRORD are seeking information from seedling nurseries in an effort to gauge their current status and capacity and the opportunities they see to increase production. This unusual request comes as planners consider an unprecedented increase in surveying, sowing and planting that could see more than 300-million seedlings planted in 2020 and 2021.
This projected increase is at least 40-million seedlings per year greater than current reforestation efforts. Making the leap to planting levels as high or higher than we have ever seen may be largely dependent on the nursery sector’s ability to manage more seedlings.
The demand is driven by a confluence of government funding, federal and provincial climate change goals, and recent disaster. Out of last year’s fires in B.C. more than 1.2 million hectares burned in total with 700,000 hectares lost out of the timber harvest land base (THLB). Of that, along with special habitat and other lands outside the THLB, our provincial government is estimating at least 200,000 hectares will require planting over the next decade.
This undertaking on its own is challenging requiring coordination and planning at a landscape level and cooperation and communication between various land managers including First Nations, government agencies and licensees. But federal reforestation and restoration matching funding up to $160-million available through the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund is short-lived expiring in three years.
Managing the planning and investment distortions created by that federal imperative is very much on the minds of planners and forestry owners at the moment. It is the reason for the possible two-year episode of the industry having to reach for more than 300-million seedlings annually. What comes after that peak is potentially problematic as the demand is forecast to drop with business investments possibly sitting idle.
Meanwhile it’s been years since we have seen the likes of this kind of federal investment in forestry. For that matter the same applies to the province to some extent. Nevertheless it is needed and welcome. But ideally, the money and planning would flow more evenly, not requiring the possible feats of contortion the reforestation sector, including government planners, may have to perform to meet potential targets.
However, since the federal funding is shorter term, it is one of the reasons more than one scenario is being considered. It’s also the reason the WFCA is working closely with government planners. It is widely held now that we need to set our sails for the political funding winds blowing and take advantage of whatever we can reasonably undertake. It is uncertain when we might see this chance again. To see the BCTS REI go to https://www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca