B.C. forestry overhaul could revitalize industry

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VICTORIA, B.C. — Forestry industry representatives in B.C. are lauding the B.C. Liberals’ overhaul of the industry outlined in this week’s provincial budget.

Forestry companies can save up to $1 billion in expenses if the government follows through with its pledges to radically alter the way the industry works. But some say there will be increased operating costs in other areas, as the province downloads services such as road maintenance and firefighting expenses onto the industry.

Council of Forest Industries (COFI) president, Ron MacDonald, says the changes could help the industry get back on its feet.

The changes include basing stumpage rates on the market price for timber, securing a designated "working forest" where timber extraction is identified as a prime value, developing a new Forest Practices Code and undertaking reforms of the timber tenure system. However, MacDonald says the government did not follow through in increasing the annual timber harvest.

"We understand this government has a whole lot of interests to balance. If we like 80 per cent of what they are doing and the remaining 20 per cent we don’t like but we understand why they are doing it, that’s pretty good," MacDonald tells local media.

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