Monday, April 19, 2010

Local Forest Management

This blog promotes Local Forest Trusts as a better way to manage our public forests. Local Forest Trusts will provide a better institutional framework for sustainable forest management than the present centralized system.

Our Crown or public forests were intended to be managed for the long term benefit of the public and forest dependent communities. The present centralized system gives the public and forest dependent communities little opportunity to exercise their interest. The public is given the opportunity to give input to government on higher level land use plans, and a chance to comment on forest company plans for short term harvest. Since the public has limited opportunity to influence the management of their forests, as strong culture of interest in forest matters has not developed in BC.

The existing centralized system of forest management does give major forest corporations the opportunity to exercise their interest in our forests. Corporations have private rights to harvest volumes of timber from public forests. Corporations have the right to propose what areas of forest they will harvest in the short term. This arrangement supposedly served the public interest because it created revenues for forest industry and government. It worked well for many decades as the most valuable timber in public forests was harvested. The forest sector is now in difficulties that are more long term than the present economic downturn.

BC is trying to solve its forest sector problems with the old ideas that caused the problem in the first place. We are trying to solve the problem by giving forest corporations increased private interest in our public forests. Long term tenure in commercial timber reserves is about increasing the private interest in our public forests. Do we want this process of enclosure to continue? Do you want your children or grand children to meet a gate on their way to your favorite recreation spot in the forest?

A new system of forest management based on Local Forest Trusts will enable the public, and forest dependent communities to exercise their interest in forest management. There will be a locally elected board with professional staff that are accountable to the community. It is a vital interest of a forest dependent community to ensure sustainable forest management. Sustainable forest management, by international definition, is not just about sustainable timber supplies. It tries to develop a diversified local forest economy by secondary wood manufacture, non timber forest products and through nature based economic and recreational activities. Freedom from the financial impediment of discriminatory trade tariffs is seen as a necessary part of sustainable forest management. The centralized system of forest management and non market timber allocation in BC can be viewed as a government subsidy. Local Forest Trusts will sell timber on the open market. This will encourage secondary manufacture, free enterprise and reduce our vulnerability to export taxes on wood products. These competitive arrangements will renew and revitalize our ailing forest sector.

Most aspects of sustainable forest stewardship are best achieved through a local accountable forest management organisation like a Local Forest Trust. However there a a few forest services that are better provided through some central organisation. Forest research, and aerial fire fighting operations are examples of needed infrastructure. A Forest Trust Assembly governed by delegates, both elected and professional from Local Forest Trusts can handle these services. The Forest Trust Assembly will audit Local Forest Trusts and provide the public with a court of appeal.

In addition to giving the public and forest dependent communities accountable arrangements for sustainable stewardship of their local forest landscapes, Local Forest Trusts will put a stop to gradual creeping enclosure of BC's public forests into the private interest.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage comments and questions