VANCOUVER – BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) President and CEO Susan Yurkovich and Forest Products Association of Canada President and CEO Derek Nighbor issued a joint statement in response to the announcement today that the Intergovernmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group of the Southern Mountain Caribou has been signed.

“The forest sector has long supported and participated in efforts to enhance caribou recovery and protection – working alongside partners to advance meaningful solutions, including actively supporting the Government of BC’s Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan and participating in population augmentation trials.

We will continue to work to enhance caribou habitat populations and believe the Section 11 Agreement delegation to the Province provides us with a greater range of tools to do this important work. However, we are deeply disappointed that the separate Partnership Agreement signed today permanently removes a significant amount of fibre from the timber harvesting land base and creates additional operational uncertainty.

This permanent removal further shrinks the working forest and will have negative impacts on forestry workers, communities and regional economies.

This comes at a time when the sector is facing major challenges that have resulted in thousands of workers in dozens of communities across the province being impacted. Governments must recognize that secure access to reasonably priced fibre is the single most important factor needed to ensure a vibrant forestry sector. This agreement further erodes the working forest land base – further harming an industry that is critically important to the provincial economy and communities across BC.

We remain fully committed to working with governments, First Nations, and community leaders in advancing caribou recovery and protection. However, advancing this work must be done collectively and must recognize the importance of preserving the working forest.”