New vision for sustainable forest policy puts people, communities first. (

Media Contacts

Lindsay Byers

Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier

Ministry of Forests, Lands,

Natural Resource Operations
and Rural Development
Media Relations
250 896-4320


Key changes of a modernized forest policy

The intentions paper sets out government’s vision for a forestry sector that is diverse, competitive, focused on sustainability, puts people first and is aware of its crucial role in improving certainty by working with B.C.’s Indigenous peoples. The paper outlines the actions government will take in the coming months to address the main challenges currently facing British Columbia’s forestry sector. They are:


B.C. has practiced sustainable forestry for decades. But the province’s timber supply is decreasing due to naturally induced factors like climate change, the mountain pine beetle epidemic and large wildfires. Additionally, land-use protections for conservation have impacted supply. Greater land-use protections are needed for conservation. To enhance stewardship while addressing ecosystem health and resilience, policy changes are needed. B.C. will continue to be a world leader in providing sustainable forest products and forest policy that considers the ever-changing environment.


There is a need to increase forestry’s economic and management opportunities for Indigenous peoples. Doing so aligns with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and advances the well-being of Indigenous communities. It also reduces uncertainty and strengthens confidence in the industry.

People and communities:

For decades, the forestry industry has provided good-paying jobs, supporting families in many B.C. communities. As these communities strive to become more resilient, there is an opportunity for the Province to work with them to better consider their interests. Local access to timber can support diversified manufacturing, focused on value rather than volume. Local communities should be engaged in discussions about wildfires, local employment and sustainable management of the forests that surround and nurture British Columbians.


Forest products are globally traded. They are desired for their lower carbon footprint, are produced sustainably in the province and are verified by third-party forest certification organizations. B.C’s forestry sector must continue to be competitive on the global stage, keeping in mind those who invest in B.C. and provide good-paying jobs.

Fairness for British Columbians:

The forests are owned by British Columbians. It is important to ensure they receive fair returns on their asset.

Principles of a modernized forest policy

Government’s intention paper sets out its vision for a forestry sector that is diverse, competitive and focused on sustainability. It puts people first. Over the past few years, government has asked what should be done and what should be considered. This vision has been drafted with an understanding of the crucial necessity of working with Indigenous peoples. The steps taken in the months ahead, outlined here, are intended to achieve this vision and modernize forest policy in B.C. 

Guiding principles and policy intentions:

Government will fulfil its vision for the future of the forest sector and B.C.’s forests based on three principles it has heard repeatedly from partners, stakeholders and communities. The Province will also fulfil its commitment to collaborate and co-operate with Indigenous peoples. The three principles and related policy intentions are:

1. Increasing forestry sector participation:

  • Creating future tenure opportunities for new players – enhance the legal mechanisms to allow tenure to be redistributed for harvesting purposes, encouraging diversification in the forestry sector;
  • Providing clarity on compensation for lost harvesting rights – establish a clear framework that lays out where and under what circumstances compensation for lost harvesting rights will apply;
  • Creating flexibility when forest licences need to be reduced – allow government to consider pressures faced by small operators or Indigenous or local community interests when reductions to allowable annual cuts (AACs) are divided among licence holders;
  • Revising tenure disposition considerations – build on the success of 2019’s Bill 22 in addressing tenure concentration and public-interest considerations when a tenure transfer or change of control occurs;
  • Enhancing revenue oversight for log exports – ensure government receives the fees it charges when logs are exported, rather than processed here in B.C. (fee-in-lieu);
  • Evolving BC Timber Sales policy for maximum sales restrictions – consider an alternative approach to allow for more sale opportunities at smaller volumes to smaller or value-added manufacturers.

2. Enhancing stewardship and sustainability:

  • Continuing to improve the Forest and Range Practices Act – better incorporate, manage and conserve forest values and ensure Indigenous peoples can be involved at the start of planning;
  • Reintegrating prescribed and cultural fire into forest management – work with Indigenous partners and stakeholders to bring these practices back into B.C.’s forest management toolkit;
  • Advancing apportionment – rebalance tenure opportunities and improve the apportionment process to consider harvest sustainability and the interests of local Indigenous peoples and stakeholders;
  • Reviewing the cut control process – review and improve how cut control is designed to encourage tenure holders to use their AAC in a way that honours the intended harvest profile;
  • Improving accountability in tenure management – strengthen the accountability of tenure holders who are in a position of public trust;
  • Increasing discretion in authorizing activities – provide statutory decision-makers the discretion to consider forest values like water, timber, wildlife health and Indigenous heritage when issuing cutting or road permits;
  • Supporting silviculture management and innovation investments – help stands grow back faster and healthier and preserve more old-growth trees through innovative practices.

3. Strengthening the social contract:

  • Modernizing tenure replaceability conditions – ask tenure holders to demonstrate a clear commitment to sustainability and find creative ways to grow the industry, considering Indigenous partnerships, forest sustainability and climate change;
  • Increasing fibre access for local value-added manufacturers – work with the value-added sector to support competitiveness, reduce the amount of slash piles burnt after harvest and develop a more value-added sector-focused program for timber sales;
  • Promoting the use of wood and mass timber – improve the legislative framework to ensure wood, mass timber and emerging biomass-based materials are more clearly a priority in public buildings, in co-ordination with B.C.’s mass-timber action plan and CleanBC;
  • Revising area-based tenure-specific pricing policy – harmonize rate structures to increase fairness between different licence types;
  • Strengthening compliance and enforcement – reinforce government’s ability to address poor practices and behaviours through public reporting and penalties;
  • Protecting good jobs – support workers by considering labour in tenure transfers, continue to ensure the sustainability of contractors and advance the Ministry of Labour’s industrial inquiry commission.

In addition to the three principles outlined above, government will also consider enabling shared decision-making as guided by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, as this is a priority for both Indigenous Nations and the First Nations Leadership Council.

Actions to address old growth recommendations

British Columbians value their old-growth forests and government is working to protect them for future generations.

Government’s vision to modernize forest policy complements its ongoing work to implement the independent panel’s recommendations on old growth forests.

On Sept. 20, 2020, the Province announced it was taking a new, holistic approach to managing old growth, informed by the independent panel report, A New Future for Old Forests.

As a first step, B.C., in collaboration with Indigenous Nations, immediately deferred the harvesting of 196,000 hectares of old growth in nine areas – this is equivalent to roughly 480 Stanley Parks. Government also enacted the Special Tree Regulation to protect up to 1,500 exceptionally large, individual trees. More information on this regulation is available here: 

The Province also committed to engaging with Indigenous peoples, workers and communities to build a plan to protect B.C.’s ancient forests for future generations, and this work is underway. Since September 2020, government has taken the following actions:

  • As a first step, government engaged with the First Nations Leadership Council to discuss the report and begin work on the approach for recommendation No. 1: “engaging the full involvement of Indigenous leaders and organizations to review the report and work with the Province on any subsequent policy or strategy development and implementation.” Since the report’s release, government has met with several Indigenous Nations and organizations to work together on recommendations and will continue to reach out to more Nations.
  • Building on the government’s announcement in 2020 to defer 196,000 hectares of old-growth forests from harvesting, work is underway with Indigenous leaders and in consultation with stakeholders to identify potential additional deferral areas and assess their potential economic impacts.
  • More detailed information on the status of old growth conditions and trends and compliance with existing targets (recommendation 5 and 7) are in development through the Forest and Range Evaluation Program. More information will be released this summer and fall. Regular updates and all available old growth information are online here:
  • Government has developed a timeline and path to implementing all 14 recommendations in collaboration with Indigenous Nations, communities and stakeholders:

Facts about old growth in B.C.:

  • While the vast majority of old growth in B.C. – 10 million hectares – is protected or not economical to harvest, government is taking action to change current forest management practices in response to the Old Growth Strategic Review. These changes will better support the effective implementation or achievement of the stated and legislated public objectives for old forests. 
  • There are 13.7 million hectares of old growth in British Columbia. This is equivalent to an area more than four times the size of Vancouver Island.
  • Old growth makes up about 23% of B.C.’s forests.
  • Currently, only 27% of the old growth in B.C. is legal and economical to harvest.
  • Characteristics of old growth can include tree species, tree age, tree size, surrounding forest structure, ecological function and historical disturbance. While characteristics vary, old-growth forests tend to have more diverse plant and animal life than younger forests.
  • Old-growth ecosystems support a wide range of plants and animals, from mosses and liverworts to large mammals and some species at risk. These forests also provide habitat for many birds, mammals and amphibians.
  • Old-growth stands are protected in many areas throughout the province using various measures including Old Growth Management Areas, Wildlife Habitat Areas and in conjunction with protections for species like caribou, marbled murrelet and northern goshawk.

Learn More:

To see the old growth strategy, visit: