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Bill to update Alberta’s forests act passes first reading


October 23, 2020
By P&PC Staff

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A bill to modernize Alberta’s Forests Act has passed first reading at the provincial legislature.

The new Growing Alberta’s Forest Sector Amendment Act, 2020 would modernize the existing Forests Act – which hasn’t been updated since 1971 – to meet the current realities of Alberta’s forest sector.

The Forests Act provides for and defines the powers to establish regulations related to forestry and allows for the approval of the right to harvest Crown timber or forest tenure.

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“A properly managed forest protects wildlife habitat, supports tens of thousands of jobs and reduces the risk of disease and forest fires which threaten our communities,” says Devin Dreeshen, minister of agriculture and forestry, who sponsored Bill 40.

If passed, the changes will support the Forest Jobs Action Plan and red tape reduction – two key government commitments.

The amendments are aimed at ensuring reliable access to timber, providing security for capital investments and maintaining an attractive investment environment.

Changes include:

  • Adding a preamble to the Forests Act that demonstrates Alberta’s commitment to the sustainable management of forests and a sustainable timber supply for the forest industry.
  • Increasing the transparency and responsiveness of Alberta’s timber dues by making their calculation methods available to the public and by providing regular updates to promote sector competitiveness.
  • Providing greater flexibility for the forest industry to respond to market and environmental conditions by allowing 10-year harvest control periods as another option to the existing five-year option for timber quota holders.
  • Eliminating the unnecessary red tape for forestry companies to hold a timber licence in addition to their timber quota by adjusting quotas to provide all of the necessary oversight by today’s forest management planning standards.

“Alberta’s forest industry is a major job creator and economic contributor,” says Janis Simpkins, senior vice-president, Alberta Forest Products Association. “The industry supports 40,000 jobs and generates $350 million in revenue for the government of Alberta. These changes will support forestry job creators by eliminating unnecessary red tape.”

The forest sector contributes $2 billion to the provincial gross domestic product.