NDP plants five-point forestry plan promises

NDP leader Adrian Dix releases party’s forestry platform in Prince George Monday

NDP leader Adrian Dix released his party’s forestry platform in Prince George Monday, including a pledge to double the number of trees planted on Crown land.

Dix also promised to increase spending on forest inventory research and establish a “jobs protection commissioner” to manage the reduction in timber supply that is expected across Interior areas depleted by beetle infestation.

The five-point plan promises action to reduce the export of logs from B.C., but as in the party’s 2009 election platform, the party offers no specifics.

The NDP promises only to “work with stakeholders to reduce raw log exports and create more value-added forestry jobs.”

Dix said if the NDP form a government after the May 14 election, forest spending will increase by $30 million in the first year, with further increases up to $100 million beyond current spending over five years.

NDP critics have focused on B.C. Liberal budget cuts to forest management, as the government merged natural resource operations into a single ministry.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson called the NDP announcement a “photo op” that provided little new about the NDP’s plans.

In January, Thomson announced a 20 per cent increase in the export fee for logs from southern Vancouver Island and the adjacent south coast.

NDP forest critic Norm Macdonald said at the time the increase was too small to make a difference as Asian buyers bid up the price of B.C. logs, but he offered no alternative.

Dix said the federal and provincial governments have done a good job increasing lumber exports to China, and as premier he would continue the trade missions and marketing efforts that have led to the growth.