by EVAN MATTHEWS
The Provincial Government is spending $150-million to plant more trees while “fighting climate change” and “creating over 3,000 jobs,” but nobody seems to know where the jobs are going to be, just yet.
The Provincial funding will go to the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia, but according to the society’s Executive Director, Greg Anderson, it’s too early to know how and where the money will translate into jobs.
“To say where the initiatives are going to be on the land, specifically, I’m not sure. It’s to be determined,” says Anderson, noting the Society was established only a year ago, in February 2016.
The $150-million will be transferred in 2017 as a lump-sum payment. The society is to focus on reforestation initiatives throughout the province, according to the Provincial Government, this in addition to the $85-million the Government allocated to the society in 2015-16.
Not only is it too early to say where the initiatives will be, but it’s also premature to say what the society’s specific initiatives will look like, according to Anderson, though he says he has a more broad understanding.
“There are areas affected by wildfires in the last few years, and sometimes those areas come back to naturals and sometimes not. Those areas could be possibilities.
“There are other places, for example in the central interior, where there has been mountain pine beetle (infestations),” he says, noting if and when the fiber is removed from these areas, the society could look at planting trees shortly after.
The common theme in Anderson’s examples is that in these instances, the forests may not grow back or be planted otherwise.
Whether the Robson Valley will see an influx of tree planting jobs remains to be seen, though, as many tree planting jobs in the region stem from legal obligations pertaining to a licensee.
“There are areas affected by wildfires in the last few years, and sometimes those areas come back to naturals and sometimes not. Those areas could be possibilities — Greg Anderson, executive director of the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.
Licensee’s are required by law to replant areas they’ve logged for economic gain, Anderson says, so helping licensees meet their legal obligations would be outside the funding (agreement) between the Province and the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.
“Major licensees like Canfor, a community forest, or a woodlot… they’re obligated by law to replant it themselves,” says Anderson. We’re not replacing licensee’s obligations at all.”
The society has already been through two project intakes, according to Anderson, with the first being last August and the second in November.
The third intake, he says, will be a Mar. 17, 2016 deadline. As the society grows older, Anderson says there are plans in the works to have the society become more proactive within communities.
“Right now the society is project driven, and we hope to eventually get a little bit more strategic where we can make some more intelligent decisions on the ground,” says Anderson.
“We’re not the land manager, but we can encourage projects in an area. We’re just not there yet.”