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Planning key to managing recreation values in public forests

VICTORIA – Managing recreation resources on public forest land outside of parks is the subject of a special report released by the Forest Practices Board.

The report identified issues and improvements needed and said better planning is key.

“Forest recreation is important in B.C., both as a valued part of residents’ lifestyles and for the economic benefits derived from tourism,” said Kevin Kriese, board chair, Forest Practices Board. “Almost 80% of B.C. is public forest land outside of parks. These areas provide significant recreation and tourism opportunities, including hiking, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, backcountry skiing and more.”

The board identified three improvements B.C. can make to better manage its recreation resources:

  • collect better information about recreation resources;
  • conduct planning for recreation resources that involves First Nations and stakeholders; and
  • set objectives for specific recreation resource values to ensure they are adequately protected from the impacts of forestry activities.

“The Province has a new program that will begin to modernize land use plans in B.C., in partnership with First Nations,” Kriese said. “In addition, the Province has committed to introduce a new forest landscape planning process under the Forest and Range Practices Act. These planning processes are opportunities to better plan for recreation resources.”

The board recognized the provincial Recreation Sites and Trails Branch is going above and beyond its mandate to try to manage the huge public demand for recreational opportunities. Demand has increased significantly with B.C.’s growing population and the COVID-19 pandemic driving many to outdoor activities.

“Managing recreation sites and trails is important, but needs to be complemented with better planning for recreation on the remainder of the land base,” Kriese said.

The board wrote this report after receiving many concerns and complaints over the last few years about forest recreation activities and how they are affected by forestry activity.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.


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