Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Forester in the Local Forest Trust

A change from BC's present centralized system for forest management to Local Forest Trusts will enable BC's well trained foresters,and associated professionals to do a better job of sustaining forests and forest dependent communities.

Under a new system of Local Forest Trusts, professional forest management staff will be responsible for the stewardship of a local forest landscape. They will work out of a local office and will be accountable to the local elected board of the Local Forest Trust. The Local Forest Trust will operate under trust documents that will require sustainable stewardship that meets international standards known as the Montreal Process. The intent of the Montreal Process is to encourage progress toward improvement in sustainable forest management and conservation with a set of criteria and indicators. Under this type of system, the local forester is not bound by restrictive rules and requirements. Rather,it outlines a path to progress and outlines ways of assessing that progress. The forester in the Local Forest Trust will have full responsibility and considerable flexibility in achieving sustainable results.

A BC Forest Trust Assembly will be responsible for auditing Local Forest Trusts and ensuring that there is progress toward sustainable forest management. The Forest Trust Assembly will be governed by an equal number of elected board members and forester delegates from local trusts. There will be a strong component of professional experience to guide the Forest Trust Assembly and ensure that it functions is a practical and supportive manner.

The local forester and staff will have wide responsibility for the local forest landscape. Responsibilities will include, sustaining supplies and quality of timber, non timber forest products, nature based forest enterprises, water wildlife, rare and endangered species, carbon fixation benefits to the atmosphere, spiritual and recreation benefits, traditional aboriginal sites and uses.

The existing centralized industrial forest management system does claim to manage the previously mentioned items. A local forester and staff will do a better job because they will get a better understanding of the local landscape if they are based there. If the Local Forest Trust is made the building block of forest management in BC, there will be institutions that plan and manage the local forest landscape with increasing understanding of local conditions. The managers will be accountable directly to the local communities and the public and charged with managing and conserving the full values of the local landscape.

A change to local forest management makes simple sense. You have a local elected board and a forester and staff to look after the forest. By contrast the existing centralized system is complex. There may be several forest corporations working in the local forest landscape. Since the corporate interest in the public forest is timber, plans have to be checked by the Ministry of Forests and other associated government agencies. All the forest corporations and agencies have their own hierarchies and offices in different places. Foresters and associated professionals usually work in some specialist function and limited responsibility within these hierarchies.

A change to local management of BC`s public forests is long overdue. Local Forest Trusts are a local institution with clear lines of responsibility and accountability to ensure sustainable forests and local communities.

The change to local forest management will happen if local communities take an interest in their forests and ask for the change.

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