The forestry industry is made up of all sorts of different people. It’s a truly diverse industry that brings in folks from all backgrounds, social classes, educations, and political leanings.
Based on this, it makes sense to have a lot of different voices speaking out for its interests. And the province of BC’s new Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council has made that happen.
This new group has forestry industry and labour representatives, local government leaders, Indigenous leaders, academics, and reps from NGOs.
Katrine Conroy is the Minister of Forests. “It’s a very diverse group of people,” she told Alberni Valley News. “We wanted to make sure that we got representation from people who had experience with municipal council, people who had experience with creating jobs, people who worked in the industry.”
More than anything, she hopes the council will be a microphone for the needs of forestry workers.
“We think it’s really important that we have those voices,” said Conroy.
The goal of the Council is to advise on how existing programs can be improved, as well as coming up with new, forward-looking initiatives aimed at supporting forestry workers and rural communities.
Specifically, their focus will be on shifting the industry from high volume to high value production. That shift would lessen our ecological impact and increase how many jobs each harvested tree can create for folks here at home.
“One of the things we recognize is we need to utilize all the fibre in the forest,” said Conroy. “The primary industry is very important—we’ll always need a good, solid primary industry.
“But we also need the value-added, the industries creating things. We are looking at how we can be more innovative.”
It’s one of the many cases where one change can help the economy and the environment.
Doug Routley is Parliamentary Secretary for Forests. “We need to move past the boom-and-bust cycles of the past that left workers and communities behind,” he said in a press release. “Now is the time for us to work together to build a more sustainable, diverse and innovative forest sector.”
Their first meeting will take place at the beginning of November in Victoria.