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Kriese said the board is asking the province to reassess its long-term objectives for reforestation and update those along with the standards it expects timber companies to meet, in light of expected changes due to climate change.
In its conclusions, the forest practices board requests that government respond to the board by Feb. 21, 2021, and if it accepts the recommendations, submit a progress report on the measures it’s taking within 12 months of the report’s publication.
And the big decision may be whether to let the IDF become a major source of timber for forest firms to harvest at all. The IDF zone is one of B.C.’s driest ecosystems that could be pushed into becoming more grassland than forest by changes in rainfall coming with climate change, said University of B.C. forestry expert Sally Aitken.
“And the forest management practices can accelerate that or slow that depending on how they’re done,” said Aitken, a professor and associate dean in UBC’s department of forests and conservation sciences. “That zone is a tricky one to manage.”
The type of timber harvesting that works best in the zone, partial cutting versus clearcutting, that maintains ecological conditions for successful regeneration is a more expensive type of management, Aitken said.
“Therein lies the challenge,” she said. “Is that the right place to be our wood basket for the province?”
Aitken added that the IDF is also a fire-adapted landscape, but forest-fire suppression has let too many fuels build up in the forest understory. Now drought leaves it more vulnerable to fire.