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NDP forest plan 'minor deviation from unsustainable status quo': critic

The New Democratic Party's forestry platform released this morning is a major disappointment, said Ken Wu, the executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance environmental group.

"I'm just looking at this with rage here," he said in an interview. "This is a minor deviation from the unsustainable status quo."

This morning NDP leader Adrian Dix released a five point plan for forestry. It included a commitment to skills training for the industry, more emphasis on forest health, improved inventory and building markets for B.C. wood. It also talked about reducing the export of raw logs and re-instating a jobs protection commissioner.

The plan calls for $30 million in added spending on forestry in 2013-2014, building to $100 million five years from now.

"There are some aspects that are progressive, but there's not a lot of detail," said Wu. Restricting raw log exports is positive, for example, but today's announcement didn't say how the NDP would do that, he said.

During the NDP leadership contest, Dix promised an NDP government would develop "a long-term strategy for old-growth forests," which Wu made note of at the time.

"He has not kept his promise," said Wu, adding the NDP could still make that commitment. "They need to do it soon. At this point I'd say the NDP just don't get it on forest conservation. They still have a chance, but this forestry platform is a flop ecologically."

Wu said individual MLAs such as Scott Fraser in Alberni-Pacific Rim have championed the protection of old growth forests. "We need the entire NDP party to make it part of their platform to protect endangered old growth and ensure sustainable second growth forestry."

The NDP platform says the party would take five years to double the number of seedlings planted by the government on Crown land to 50 million annually.

In a February interview, NDP forestry critic Norm Macdonald criticized the BC Liberal government for failing to meet an earlier commitment to be planting 50 million seedlings a year by 2012.

Noting at least one million hectares were already known to be not sufficiently restocked, Macdonald said, "Any competent government, and it comes down to competence, any competent government looks after its most valuable asset."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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