Friday, April 2, 2010

Crown Land ? Public Forests? or Forest in Transition to the Private Interest?

The Public Forests of BC are Crown Land held by the Province of BC. The term Crown brings to mind absolute monarchy and autocracy. We have moved ahead a few hundred years and our monarch is just a titular head of state.

The notion of "Public Forests" was firmly embedded in a 1909 Commission on BC's Forests. It recommended that BC's forests should be kept out of the hands of timber interests in Crown or public ownership. This would enable independent professional stewardship to be supplied by a Forest Service. It noted that the BC Government's job as trustee was to see that a wise system of stewardship and conservation was supplied. The intended outcome was sustainable communities and a healthy forest industry. Public ownership of the forest was intended to make timber available to many entrepreneurs and encourage a healthy diverse forest industry.

The 1909 Commission noted that the role of The BC Government toward the forest was to ensure good stewardship. This would sustain communities and a healthy forest industry. The noted that future Government administrations could get off track.

Economic development became the main focus of the government. The public wanted good economic times. To stimulate economic development, the government gave rights to harvest timber to forest companies that would build sawmills and pulp mills. Most of the rights to harvest on Crown or public forests in BC are allocated to a few forest companies. The government has delegated increasing forest management responsibilities to forest companies. While the Forest Service did bring improvements in many aspects of forest management, it never achieved its original mandate of being the independent manager of the forests on behalf of the public.

Our Crown Forest land is no longer public. The BC Government through its allocation of most Crown timber to a few forest corporations established an oligopoly, or a BC forest economy with few players and no real market for timber. It became a partner with timber interests. The BC Government listens to its corporate partners. (Look at the membership of the recent Forestry Round Table) Recommendations for long term leases and Commercial Timber Reserves are the next steps in the transition of our forests into the private interest.

So the Public Forests, your forests that surround your BC community are really Crown Forest lands and Government/Forest Corporate Oligarchs are wearing the Crown and sitting on the throne. We got here because we wanted money in our pockets. Unfortunately oligopoly arrangements are more of a hole in the pocket than money in the pocket. See the next post on value subtraction forestry.

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