In recognition of this year’s theme for Sept. 18-24, 2016, National Forest Week, “True North – Strong and Green”, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson has released the following statement:

“National Forest Week is a time to reflect on the importance of forests to Canadians, not just as an economic generator but for all the recreational, environmental, wildlife and other values that help define who we are as a nation.

“Here in B.C., our approach to forestry has come a long way since the industry’s early days when the primary focus was on harvesting trees. Today, we have a much deeper understanding of the interdependent nature of all that our forests have to offer.

“That understanding forms the foundation of my ministry’s recently released forest competitiveness agenda, which maps out the government’s plan to help keep B.C.’s forest sector competitive by focusing on three inter-related goals: healthy, resilient forests; a diverse, globally competitive industry; and stable communities and First Nations.

“The agenda contains 49 strategic actions – from expanding markets for B.C. wood products around the world, to supporting research in new wood-construction technologies and non-traditional uses of wood fibre, to investing money and resources into restoring forests impacted by wildfire and mountain pine beetle.

“B.C. is one of the world’s largest exporters of softwood lumber, a significant global producer of pulp, paper and bioenergy, and a global leader in the production of high-quality wood products from sustainably managed forests.

“About 52 million hectares of B.C.’s land base are certified to internationally recognized standards for sustainable forest management, an important ‘green advantage’ for our international customers.

“B.C.’s forest sector is vital to our economy and our communities, supporting 65,500 well-paying jobs and more than 140 rural economies.

“Our new forest sector competitiveness agenda aims to maintain forestry as a driving force behind B.C.’s economy – especially in rural communities – and sets the stage for the future of the industry throughout the province.

“Like the theme for this year’s National Forest Week, B.C. is doing its part to keep the ‘true north strong and green’.”