Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Green BC Communities: The surrounding landscape

The notion of a green community usually focuses on admirable ideas for reducing energy consumption, waste and carbon emissions. Recycling programs, efficient public transportation, fuel efficient vehicles, improved insulation of homes and other buildings need encouragement and your participation.

Green BC Communities looks at the green forest landscapes that surround British Columbia communities. Most forest landscapes are Crown forests, owned by the public. Why are the forests that surround your community owned by the public?  The intended outcome of this progressive arrangement was to ensure the economic sustainability of your community.

One hundred years ago, pioneers thought that it would be better to prevent timber companies from taking ownership of BC's forests. Instead forests were to be managed by an independent professional forest management agency, the Forest Service. Independent professional forest management was intended to ensure sustainable forests, communities and a healthy forest industry.

We did not follow through on the original vision, but opted to give forest companies tenure through timber harvesting licenses in public forests. Forest management became a partnership between the BC Government and forest companies. Forest management is no longer independent and may not be in the public interest.

It is time for communities to take greater interest in the management of their public forests and that also includes our parks or protected areas. Forest dependent communities including First Nations are facing difficulties. BC's once strong forest industry is floundering. Some would have us believe that these problems are all caused by external economic conditions, but there are also many home grown sustainability issues.

Green BC Communities will explore many of these home grown sustainability issues and propose solutions in future posts. We encourage your comments, questions and submissions.

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