Dubbed by one individual as striving for “hope beyond hope” the Forest Summit process gave rise to a shared vision for British Columbia’s forests 50 years from now and then went a step further to lay out elements for achieving this vision. The entire process took place in just over a year at a tumultuous and crucial time for the health of BC’s forests – and all who rely on them. A vision and recommendations on how to implement it were needed in short order.
Early in 2020, UBC Faculty of Forestry undertook something unique. It provided a neutral forum to bring individuals and groups with diverse and sometimes opposing viewpoints who were engaged in discussions about the future of BC’s forests together for a single day to address the wicked problems facing them. On a stormy February day at the UBC Point Grey Campus, First Nations, government, academia, environmental groups, industry, and communities gathered in person. By the end of the session, the elements of the shared vision were there. Read more about Forests Summit 2020.
Days later, the Coronavirus-19 pandemic hit BC sending the province into more turmoil. Yet, the momentum had been established. Participants from the Summit were consulted virtually, sometimes by Zoom, sometimes by email to flesh out hundreds of points made during the Summit to generate a single report with a comprehensive vision, the Forest Summit Report (see below). But more work was still to come.
Recommendations for Implementing the Vision
After the Forest Summit, UBC Forestry was asked to broaden the input while coming up with a plan that would address how the vision could be implemented. In the fall, six task forces or working groups were formed by experts reflecting the main themes that emerged from the Summit, which included: 1) governance, 2) forest management and conservation, 3) carbon, 4) forest revenues and product diversification, 5) knowledge and education and 6) dynamic and resilient communities. The task forces then each embarked on the monumental task of producing reports that identified barriers to achieving the vision and recommended steps that might be taken to overcome them in the short, medium, and long term. Some of the task forces’ proposed actions were bold, to the extent they contradicted those of other task forces. The over 200 recommendations were then brought together into a Synthesis Report. This latest report, Implementing a vision for the forests and forest-dependent communities of British Columbia, was completed in March 2021 and offered for consideration for what may be done in the weeks and years to come as British Columbians look to the future of their province’s forests.
The work resulting from the Forests Summit process was complex and represents the thoughtful consideration and synthesis of hundreds if not thousands of sometimes diametrically opposed viewpoints over the past year. With UBC Forestry trying to take an as balanced and neutral approach as possible, this means that not all points appeared in the documents as they were made by the various participants. These contrasting approaches will have to be evaluated as part of the next steps. Yet, the exercise was important. In dire times that included softwood lumber tariffs, habitat fragmentation, insect infestations along with a host of other challenges, the Forest Summit process provided a vision for the future and recommended actions to address these challenges. Even more, it was extracted from the expertise, insight, and opinion of many voices around the province as opposed to that of only one or a few.
Implementing a Vision for the Forests and Forest-Dependent Communities of British Columbia (available in 2 parts)