Invited by the SCCA to speak in Sechelt on April 23, Dr. Bruce Fraser, chair of the Forest Practices Board of BC, stressed the urgent need to change the way we value and manage our forests.
We are now beginning to characterize the forest as a source of energy as well as material, leading to inventories of the energy equivalence of biomass as a measure of its value, said Fraser. The danger is that this will add another level of extraction demand on the resource. Anticipating the coming importance of biomass when fossil fuels decline, large oil corporations are already beginning to form partnerships with agriculture and forest companies.
Dr. Fraser pointed to six major themes that are combining in their global impact: peak oil, crumbling agriculture, accelerating climate change, accelerating food consumption in emerging economies, failing financial markets and the overwhelming importance of water.
He said that the current economic crisis facing the forest industry in B.C. is part of a deeply structural sea change of planetary dimensions.
The Pacific Northwest is considered to be one of the last areas on the planet likely to be severely impacted by climate change, and our forests will play a key role. While we cannot escape the global impacts of climate change, he said, we have the opportunity to raise the art of stewardship to a level equivalent to the challenge.