Sunday, July 17, 2011

Species at Risk Report

The British Columbia Task Force on Species at Risk issued their report on Jan 31, 2011. The main report seems to skirt the issue of stewardship of BC's public forests. However the Appendices to the report does mention the elephant in the room. (Click on title block to view)
Stealth privatization of our public forests is covered in the Appendices:

"3.4 Existing Tenures, Contractual Rights and Compensation

British Columbia is fortunate in that over 90% of the total land base is Crown land rather than private property. To many, this would seem to suggest that the provincial government would have a great deal of flexibility and leeway in making decisions about how this Crown land, and the attendant resources, will be used,including the potential to set aside species at risk habitat or change the current management regime to one that takes greater account of species at risk needs. But in reality this is not actually true. Or at least, it usually cannot be done without imposing some type of negative economic implications. This is because although the land base is owned by the Crown, successive governments for over a century have been making legal commitments to the land base resources as probably the most important component of the province’s overall economic development strategy.
These commitments have been made in, for example, logging, mining, guide outfitting,
agriculture, ranching, tourism, independent power production, recreation and trapping, and they are usually legally binding through contractual obligations. Some of these contracts may, in fact, be extremely long‐lasting tenures that remain in effect as long as the tenure holder maintains specific standards of use and stewardship. For example, some timber tenures under the Forest Act such as a tree farm licence (TFL), have an ‘evergreen’ clause that allows the tenure holder to renew the tenure before the end of its stated timeline. This ensures that there is continuity such that the TFL holder can justify significant long‐term investments in equipment, infrastructure and jobs.
These tenure and contractual commitments cannot simply be denied, taken away or changed unilaterally by the government because there is now evidence that the land and/or resource is required for a species at risk. Or at least under law, this cannot happen without some type of due process and usually some requirement to pay compensation. Yet British Columbia has no clearly articulated and broadly accepted process by which this can happen. Usually, each individual case develops its own ad hoc process as the situation warrants. This means that there is uncertainty for the Government, stake holders and species at risk."

Protecting species at risk is part of sustainable forest management according to the Montreal Process the international standard. This standard also puts considerable emphasis on the need for the legal and institutional infrastructure to support sustainable forest management. The report demonstrates the inadequacies of BC's arrangements. The report does not offer solutions to this central and major problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage comments and questions