Editors note: This letter is from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in response to a letter by David Pacey that was copied to The Pioneer for publication and appeared as State of B.C. Forests a great concern in the June 14th issue.

Dear David Pacey:

Thank you for your recent email to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations regarding silviculture in British Columbias forests.I have been asked to respond.

Operational planting in British Columbia began in the 1930s and, since that time, over six billion tree seedlings have been planted.The current survival rates for seedlings planted in British Columbia is approximately 90 per cent.

Since 1987, every harvested area in British Columbia has been legally required to be reforested with ecologically suitable species by the person who holds the licence to carry out the harvesting.

Approximately 80 per cent of all areas harvested are planted; the remaining 20 per cent of the harvested area is reforested through natural regeneration, which is an ecologically appropriate reforestation method in many ecosystems in B.C.

Our annual reports on silviculture activities in British Columbia are available here: www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/silviculture/statistics/2011-12.htm

Forests are constantly changing. Among the many agents of change are natural disturbances such as forest fires and insect outbreaks. Although such forces play a valuable role in the life cycle of forest ecosystems, the current outbreaks of damaging forest insects (i.e. mountain pine beetle epidemic, spruce beetle, Douglas fir beetle) and recent large wildfires have had a severe impact on the forests in British Columbias Interior.

The impact of these catastrophic disturbances, combined with the increased rates of harvest to capture some of the potential losses, have resulted in a projected reduction in mid- to long-term timber harvest levels.

In response, the Province of British Columbia established the Forests for Tomorrow (FFT) program in 2005 with the aim of improving the future timber supply and mitigating impacts on other forest values.FFT is part of governments Land Based Investment Strategy (LBIS) that invests in a diversity of natural resources.

In addition to FFT, LBIS programs include forest health, tree improvement, inventory, fire management, fish, water, wildlife, ecosystem restoration, invasive plants, range, and recreation.

FFT is focusing its investments and reforestation activity on those management units within the province that are expected to have reductions in long-term timber supplies as a result of MPB and wildfire. Since its inception in 2005, FFT has facilitated the planting of over 80 million seedlings on over 61,000 hectares of MPB and wildfire impacted forest, and is in the progress of planting at another 22.7 million seedlings in 2013, and is growing another 22 million seedlings for planting in 2014 .

With regard to the forest industry in British Columbia, the average area reforested is 98 per cent of the area harvested, which indicates that industry partners are meeting their obligation to reforest harvested areas.

Approximately 80 per cent of all areas harvested are planted, while 20 per cent are reforested using natural regeneration.The average time to reforest a harvested site in British Columbia is two years and, as of 2013, over seven billion trees have been planted as part of our commercial forestry and government-led rehabilitation operations. Seedlings projected to be planted in 2013/14 have once again risen to about the 241 million level.

The change in budget in 2013/14 for FFT is part of a broader strategy to manage governments fiscal challenges through innovative solutions. Despite the budget reduction, more seedlings will be planted to reforest areas in 2013/14 (22.7million) than FFT has ever before planted in a single year. The planting level in 2013/14 is an increase of about 8.2 million seedlings over the amount planted in 2012/13 (14.5 million).The budget for FFT is projected return to its past levels in 2014/15 and government has committed to add an additional $10 million for reforestation starting in 2015/16.

Kevin Astridge

Intensive Silviculture Specialist

Resource Practices Branch