FESBC coughs up some cash for forests


Premier John Horgan addresses a crowd of about 500 at the Council of Forest Industries convention in Prince George Friday. Bill Phillips photo
Premier John Horgan addresses a crowd of about 500 at the Council of Forest Industries convention in Prince George Friday. Bill Phillips photo

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

The Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. is finally spending some of the money it has received from government over the past two years.

Formed in 2016 by the previous Liberal government with the mandate to advance environmental and resource stewardship of British Columbia’s forests and advocate for the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests, the society started with $85 million from the province. In its first year, the society approved 23 projects totalling $2.7 million. Shortly before the provincial election call last year, then Premier Christy Clark handed the society another $150 million.

Friday morning in Prince George, Premier John Horgan said the society will be awarding $134 million to 71 projects around the province.

“In the wake of the 2017 wildfires, our government has a responsibility to restore damaged forests and support communities,” said Horgan. “These investments in reforestation will benefit ecosystems, workers and the communities that rely on forestry for their livelihood.”

The bulk of those projects, $99 million worth, are in the Cariboo, which was hardest hit by last summer’s wildfires.

Approximately 30 per cent of the work will involve, or be led by, First Nations and their partners.

The funding for the Cariboo also includes $65 million for the forest carbon Initiative, which is a part of the province’s climate action plan. The initiative supports projects such as increased planting density, incremental reforestation, improved utilization and enhanced fertilization to grow and store forest carbon, reduce emissions and deliver greenhouse gas benefits.

In addition to the $99 million for projects in the Cariboo, the following amounts are being granted to other regions of the province:

  • $4.47 million to the Thompson-Okanagan
  • $5 million to the South Coast
  • nearly $3.4 million to the West Coast
  • nearly $1.7 million to the Skeena
  • nearly $1.5 million to the Omineca
  • $803,050 to the Northeast
  • $2.1 million to Kootenay-Boundary
  • over $15 million to projects that are province-wide in nature

The Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. is overseen by a five person board of directors comprised of the province’s former Chief Forester Jim Snetsinger; West Fraser Mills senior vice-president, woodlands, Wayne Clogg, who is chair; assistant deputy minister for the Tenures, Competitiveness and Innovation Division for the Ministry of Forests Dave Peterson; and Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for the Integrated Resource Operations Division for the Ministry of Forests Mary Sue Maloughney, and members-at-large Brian Banfill, who is a senior vice president with Brookfield Timberlands Management and Keith Atkinson who is a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The society’s offices are in Kamloops and it has a staff of five people.