UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The State of British Columbia’s Forests : A Global Comparison Gilani, Haris R.; Innes, John L.


The Forest Resources Assessment 2015 is a comprehensive dataset from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which provides the opportunity to explore some of the emerging topics related to sustainable forest management. This paper assesses how forests in British Columbia, Canada, compare globally on several key sustainable forest management parameters in four domains—biophysical indicators and legal framework, management plans, data management, and stakeholder involvement. The comparison was done against eight jurisdictions, namely Australia, China, Japan, the European Union, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and the USA. To accomplish our objectives, country-specific data on sustainable forest management parameters were extracted from the 2015 FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA). Data specific to B.C. were sourced from Canada’s National Forest Inventory, and National Forest Database. Our results showed that British Columbia (B.C.) has one of the highest proportions of land covered with forests (57%) among all jurisdictions. The total forest area in B.C. has remained stable at around 55 million ha. The current rate of deforestation (6200 ha per year) is among the lowest in all jurisdictions. Data on the extent of primary forests in B.C. is unavailable. However, 22.6 million ha (41% of B.C.′s forests) have been classified as old growth forests (using a definition unique to B.C.). B.C. is the leading provincial forest producer by volume, and produced 67.97 million m3 of roundwood in 2015. With approximately 11 billion m3 of standing timber, roundwood production volume has held steady since 1990. In British Columbia, the National Forest Inventory—British Columbia Program (NFI-B.C.) is used to track and monitor the current status of the forests. It involves both ground plots and remote sensing. The most recent B.C. State of the Forests is one of the most comprehensive reports among all jurisdictions, using 24 topic areas, with each topic comprising several indicators of sustainable forest management. We conclude that British Columbia ranks high among other jurisdictions on several key sustainable forest management parameters with legislation and forest management regimes aiming to meet the environmental, social and economic needs of current and future generations.

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