Monday, December 23, 2013

Open letter to British Columbia Government

Congratulations to the nine British Columbia British Columbia organisations for the following open letter:  (See Comments below letter)

Open letter calling for public consultation on changes to Tree Farm Licences

DECEMBER 18, 2013
This open letter was sent to Premier Christy Clark and Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson on December 9, 2013, and released to the public on December 19.
Dear Premier Clark and Minister Thomson,
We are a diverse group of organizations, representing many British Columbians. We share a common desire to see our forests nurtured and sustained as resilient ecosystems that can provide economic, social and environmental benefits for present and future generations.
Near the end of your government’s previous mandate, you introduced an omnibus Amendments Act that included provisions that would have enabled an increase in the number of Tree Farm Licences or TFLs. Such licences grant their recipients exclusive, long-term, compensable rights to log trees on defined areas of public forestland. As a result of concerns raised by many British Columbians, your government voted to remove the TFL clauses from that omnibus bill.
During and after the provincial election campaign you indicated your government intends to reintroduce legislation that could result in the awarding of more TFLs. The promise was also made that before doing so you would consult with the citizens of British Columbia.
We write you today to urge you to carefully consider whether the changes your government proposes to make to provincial forest tenure policy are in the public interest, and to request you conduct the promised public consultations on these proposed changes well in advance of introducing any legislation.
We believe that consulting widely with the public is an essential prerequisite before any substantive changes are made to tenure policies. Changes that will have long-term implications for the health of our forests, First Nations rights and title, the stability of forest-dependent communities, the economic futures of dependent businesses and contractors, and forest workers’ jobs.
Before embarking on a consultation process, we believe the public would benefit from your government publicly addressing some key questions:
  • What is the government’s vision for our forests? (particularly in light of climate change)
  • What public benefits and forest management objectives is the government attempting to achieve by enabling more TFLs?
  • How will the proposed changes to the tenure system provide additional benefits to the owners of the resource: the citizens of British Columbia?
Answering these questions will provide a vitally important context for any public consultation process. Our hope is that consultation will be province-wide, open and transparent, be completed in a timely manner prior to any legislation being introduced, and that a clear question or questions are asked in advance so the public can provide informed responses.
The forests of British Columbia are our single, largest, publicly owned, renewable asset and the public has the right to a province-wide consultation process during which they will have the opportunity to respond to clear, unambiguous proposals from their government. Rural communities and First Nations must also have the opportunity to be fully involved in the process and have adequate time and funding, as needed, to participate.
Lastly, we urge you not to rush any consultation process in order to simply justify re-introducing your proposed “rollover” legislation this spring. This is such an important area of pubic policy that we believe it is vital for government to be very clear about what it wants to do and why and a clear mandate is obtained from the public before changes to the tenure system are made.
Otherwise, your government risks re-igniting the significant resistance that caused the failure of its last attempt to make these changes.
Thank you in advance for considering our requests and we look forward to engaging with you in an informed dialogue about the future of our forests.
Sincerely,
Ancient Forest Alliance
BC Government and Service Employees Union
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' BC Office
ForestEthics Solutions
Independent Wood Processors Association of BC
Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada
Sierra Club of BC
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Wildsight
Comments: It is good and diplomatic letter that may enable discussions between these organisations and the British Columbia Government. It is also quintessentially Canadian in its expectation that a general discussion and public consultation will arrive at a consensus that is favorable to everyone.
This open letter is unlikely to effect major change. British Columbia Government administrations have been on the same trajectory in forest policy for the last seventy years. That trajectory is about handing over more and more responsibilities for managing public forests to forest corporations. Essentially it is a form of creeping privatization or public land enclosure into the private interest. This is not the first attempt to move to long term area based leases. British Columbia Governments will keep trying to do this and will be successful, if not this time, in another future attempt. 
The only thing that will stop the inevitable is some new and better ideas for the stewardship of BC's public forests. These organisations should select or develop a better alternative and use their resources to sell it to the public. A travelling road show through BC's forest dependent communities will help sell the better ideas and create a social movement for change. Show the BC Government some ingenuity, rather than wait for them to dish up the same old stuff from a seventy year old menu.
Stewardship of a public forest should be a trust rather than a tenure. Click on "Democratic area based forest trusts" in the side bar to learn more. 
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Forest Bathing Shinrin-Yoku


Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing is a Japanese concept about the health benefits of a walk in the woods. A forester from the coastal rain forests of British Columbia might picture forest bathing as an inadvertent bath resulting from walking through wet forest undergrowth on a rainy day. Pouring water out of your boots at the end of the day gives a rather literal interpretation to "forest bathing".

Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing is about getting out to the woods to experience a forest environment. Forest bathing is not just about the exercise, recreation and the more natural and aesthetic environment of the forest. There are therapeutic and health benefits and the Japanese have been conducting scientific studies to measure and understand them. Studies are being conducted in other countries and the effects of forest environments on human health are expected to be verified. Improvement in the immune system and lowered bio-markers associated with stress have been identified. Psychological studies show reduction in scores for anxiety, depression and anger. While the benefits are probably a composite response from exercise and a natural environment, studies also show that volatile organic compounds from the trees may also help to boost the immune system.

Japanese culture has always placed emphasis on the natural and aesthetic, and that may have influenced the shinrin-yoku concept. Forests often occupy hilly terrain because flat-lands tend to be used for agriculture. The forest hiking trail is likely to climb uphill and that provides additional exercise along with addition work by the core body muscles in maintaining balance on a trail versus a sidewalk. Exercise has health benefits and improves mood and the immune system. Exercise is good for you and at least according to the Japanese, probably even better if you get your exercise in a forest.

My daughter has an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is not well understood, but increased sensitivity to sensory stimulation is combined with anxiety and hyper-activity. The best solution has been a daily hike in the forest. We walk about eight kilometers, up and around a hill that is a forested Provincial Park. We do this everyday, because nothing else works as well.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Parks and Forests in natural condition in British Columbia



Western Red Cedar in a virgin protected forest in coastal British Columbia

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has a system of categories for classifying Parks or protected areas. The top or number 1 category are parks that protect areas in natural or virgin condition. Some countries have little or no areas in truly natural condition to include within their Parks or Protected areas.

British Columbia has 14.1 million hectares or 14.8% of its area protected in Parks. These Parks contain 7.6 million hectares of forest, mostly in natural condition.  These statistics on area protected look good, even by international standards. Even the environmental organizations that campaigned to increase the area of BC Parks seem to be unaware that there is another 30 million hectares of forest and wilderness in BC that is in natural or virgin condition.

Timber producing forest landscapes contain 55 million hectares of which only 22 million hectares can be harvested. The remainder is the 33 million hectares of forest and wilderness that is likely to remain in natural or virgin condition.  That is an area the size of Norway or Poland or Italy. If you add the 14 million hectares protected in Parks you come up with an area greater than Sweden. What stewardship is afforded these 40 million hectares of forest and wild land in natural condition?

Parks or protected areas hold a place in the public or political consciousness that is a little problematic. Environmental groups campaign to save forests in parks. If and area gets designated as a park the goal is accomplished. A protected area is also seen as a sacrifice to nature. If humans are going to leave these areas alone it seems to follow that little or no human input or expenditure will be required. Politicians get these factors on their radar screen and the result is often lack of funds or provision for protecting Parks. USA was one of the first countries to designate National Parks in the 1800's. The US Army acted as the protectors of Parks for some years until it was realized that a Park Service was required. BC Parks is likewise underfunded and lacks the capacity to provide full stewardship and protection to 14 million hectares. The additional 30 million hectares of forest and wilderness in natural condition within timber producing landscapes exists as a homeless orphan. Timber production is king in these landscapes. Oil, gas and mineral exploration is also a factor in some forest landscapes. The BC Government is giving the forest corporations that manage these landscapes for timber production increasing management responsibilities. The legal and institutional framework is set up to manage timber in these landscapes, so the remaining area gets little attention.
Even BC Parks, a government agency has been scaled down and most of the maintenance in protected areas is carried out by private management companies. Expenditures are focused on park entrances, parking lots, camping and picnic grounds. The back country within protected areas gets little attention. BC Parks have insufficient staff to inspect back country trails and only direct the park management company to remove a fallen tree across a trail if a member of the public reports the problem.

Almost half of British Columbia remains in natural virgin condition. This area is unrecognized and under valued. It is not scarce and it seems to have limited economic value. Sustainability requires patience. Canada and especially BC has built an economy on resource extraction. An attitude of "take it now" prevails. Time has not moderated this perspective and it is perhaps being enhanced by Canada's intent to become a major energy supplier. A non-renewable mindset goes with the rapid exploitation of tar sands, oil and gas resources and the need for pipelines and to transport these energy resources to as many markets as quickly as possible. Although the forests of BC were probably exploited too quickly, some effort was made to plant trees and think of the future.

Long term sustainability and protection of the large area of land in virgin condition in British Columbia is likely to be enhanced if maintaining its virgin condition is seen as having economic value. Its value is best realized by nature based economic enterprises that would rely on very basic development such as hiking trails and mountain cabins. These are small scale economic activities suited to local communities that may also wish to volunteer some of the effort to develop trails etc.for local recreation and amenity. Although this type of development could add significant economic activity and tourist dollars to a forest dependent communities, it barely registers as economic activity in the minds of politicians and corporate executives. These folk reside in the penthouses of corporate towers in major cities with intent to raid the wealth of the hinterland and small communities usually with willing assistance of politicians.

Devolution of control of public land to local communities will enhance the diversity of local economies. Nature based economic activity that relies on the long term integrity of areas in virgin condition is more likely to be fostered under local control. Central control brings a lack of diversity as major corporations focus on the extraction of a single resource commodity. Local Forest Trusts operating as a business under a charter to manage and sustain all resource values in the local landscape would have the freedom to take some of the proceeds of timber extraction from the local forest and apply it to recreational trail development. The local tourism economy will be enhanced. While British Columbia residents seems to be satisfied with the considerable area of BC protected in Parks, few seem to be aware that their stewardship is underfunded and undertaken by management companies rather than directly by the British Columbia Parks Service. Local Forest Trusts that develop the capacity to provide stewardship to their areas in virgin condition would be well placed to manage local Parks.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Speak up for Public Forests


One hundred and one years ago, British Columbia pioneers decided to retain most of the forests of British Columbia for the people.

Public forests were dedicated to the proposition that government can act as the enduring trustee and ensure a wise and sustainable system of forest management.  Forest dependent communities would be free from periods of timber drought. Public timber would be available on an open market to encourage a competitive, diversified and healthy forest products industry. BC's forests would be free from waste and improvident use and the people would have freedom of access for recreation.

For seven decades, governments have seen our forests as an opportunity for economic development. Forest corporations were given timber harvesting rights and increasing forest management responsibilities in public forests. Forest dependent communities are facing timber droughts. A few forest corporations control most of the timber supply. Their favored position on public timber supply makes BC's wood products vulnerable to export taxes and tariffs. Errors of omission and commission by the Forest Service and forest corporations resulted in huge areas of old Lodge Pole Pine. It was vulnerable to mountain pine beetle attack. A recent epidemic resulted in a serious and major loss of timber supply.

The BC Government  hopes to solve forest problems by giving forest corporations greater long term control of designated areas of public forests. This will put our forests on a path toward privatization.

A better alternative is to rededicate our public forests by having large areas designated as local forest trusts will boards elected form the communities in the vicinity. A professional forest management staff would run the local trust as a business involved in timber, non timber and nature based economic activities. First Nations could have their own local trust or be represented on a local trust board. A BC Forest Trust Assembly governed by elected and professional delegates from local forest trusts would audit, support and act as a court of appeal.


(Reprinting encouraged; no permission required)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

British Columbia's great forest heist


President Abraham Lincoln said:
"It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time;
you can even fool some of the people all of the time;
but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time."

This famous quote about political calculation was probably the answer to the question: What can we get off with? It is probably the priority question of the criminal pondering the next "job".

In British Columbia, Government and forest corporations are pondering a future of long term area based leases of public forests to forest companies. Can they sell this idea to the public without raising suspicions that the long term intention is to move the public forests into the private interest?  Successful implementation of this next step will be the threshold toward enclosure of public forests into the private interest. Selling points are as follows:

  • The public can be told that the Public Forests will remain in Crown or public ownership
  • A few scraps of public forest will be retained to appease communities, First Nations and others
  • Forest management will rely on forest professionals (the fact that most will be employed by forest companies can be downplayed)
  • Area based forest management has advantages
The majority of BC's population lives in cities and their forests are not a priority for them. The environmental movement, with its tendency to be uni-focused is attendant on the issues of oil or bitumen pipelines and the potential for oil spills on the BC coast. Residents of forest dependent communities have generally supported government forest policy and the forest corporations in their communities. This may change as sustainability issues start to affect the economies of these communities. Interior BC communities will soon see the end of the saw-milling binge caused by the mountain pine beetle epidemic. They face a long term headache of reduced timber supply and may not be so well disposed to the status quo in future.

Can the British Columbia Government pull of the job of delivering most of BC's public forests into the private interest? Circumstances are in favor of a successful heist. Can you steal most of British Columbia without anyone noticing?  Probably not! Canadians are a quiet subdued and peaceful people with little history of major and especially violent "dust-ups". However, the treatment of BC's public forests have been the subject of one of the greatest outbreaks of civil disobedience in the history of Canada. BC's "War in the Woods" boiled over in the 1990's. The problem simmers on the back burner. Greater control of public forests by timber corporations will mean lesser control of the quality of the environment. This will probably erode the limited "social licence" enjoyed by forest corporations. Social Licence is a term coined by corporate public relations and it is also public relations speak for "What can we get off with?".

The British Columbia Government and forest corporations can pull off job of placing most of BC's public forests into long term private timber leases. However this will erode the social licence and create a host of future problems that are likely to cost the Government and forest corporations in the pocket. The present short term grab for control is likely to result in long term weakness rather than strength.

The alternative of Democratic area based forest trusts (click on sidebar) gives area based forest management that is accountable to the public. The trusts would be operated as businesses and timber sold on an open market. British Columbia's wood exports could be freed of present discriminatory export taxes. The timber allocation arrangements between the BC Government and forest companies tend to restrict free enterprise and make wood exports vulnerable to tariffs. The BC Government and BC forest corporations should discuss and assess other alternatives for area based management of public forests.


Monday, November 4, 2013

British Columbia's forest treasure chest has been looted. Do we want to give what's left to the looters?

by ANTHONY BRITNEFF


With the recent announcement that two sawmills in the communities of Quesnel and Houston will close at the loss of more than 430 jobs, the time has come to face an unpleasant but necessary truth.

Our forests are so depleted as a result of the unprecedented mountain pine beetle outbreak and more than a decade-long logging frenzy in response to it, that we cannot possibly sustain the sawmilling industry that we currently have.

The provincial government has known for years that this would happen, yet did nothing of consequence to prepare for it. Worse, it now appears to be using the unfolding crisis to set the stage for the virtual privatization of British Columbia’s public forests - a move that it knows full well most members of the public oppose. 

To achieve that goal, Premier Christy Clark and her forests minister, Steve Thomson, are deliberately perverting the work, report and recommendations of a bipartisan committee of the provincial legislature on which both BC Liberal and NDP MLAs served.

The government is misconstruing the work of that committee to suggest that after touring the province and canvasing public opinion committee members recommended a course of action that would result in the door being thrown wide open to a handful of forest companies gaining de facto control over most of our public forestlands. Nothing of the kind happened.

Yet, in June of this year, Premier Christy Clark instructed her forests minister, Steve Thomson, in a formal letter to proceed with enabling legislation that would allow the granting of private tenures on Crown land known as Tree Farm Licences (TFLs).

The biggest winners in such a move would be just five companies two of which, Canfor and West Fraser, are behind the recent sawmill closure announcements.  Premier Clark’s instructions are a complete reversal of her government’s pre-election decision in March to pull such a plan from the order papers where it was within a hair’s breadth of becoming law.

Since then, the BC Liberals have promised that there would be full public consultation of draft legislation to enable the conversion of public forest tenures. The details on what that promised consultation will look like, however, are as yet anyone’s guess. Yet the promised consultation process could begin later this fall.

In the meantime, BC Liberal MLAs and forests ministry officials have allegedly been meeting secretly with municipal mayors and selected First Nations’ groups to convince them that the establishment of private forest tenure monopolies is in their best interests.

Meanwhile, 434 mill workers at Canfor and West Fraser sawmills are contemplating the pending demise of their jobs, and rumours abound that up to 10 more sawmills are vulnerable to closure at a further loss of thousands of jobs due to a growing lack of timber.

In the face of known, unprecedented uncertainty for numerous interior communities and First Nations dependent upon forestry for their livelihood, this is most decidedly not the time to be making fundamental changes to who controls what by way of our publicly owned forestlands. Instead, government needs to show long absent leadership.

That leadership begins with a solid commitment to reassess available timber supplies everywhere in the province, to plant trees, and to lower approved logging rates to levels in keeping with what trees remain available to log. Anything less, will result in even deeper pain for workers and communities in the months ahead.

In tandem with that, the government should also put a halt to the flagrant jockeying for position now in evidence by Canfor and West Fraser. Both companies not only simultaneously announced that they would be closing sawmills – in and of itself a highly unusual event – but both of them also concurrently announced that they intended to swap logging rights one with the other.

It looks very much like those swaps are intended to give Canfor uncontested, monopolistic control over the forests in the Houston area and to give West Fraser a virtual lock on forests in the Quesnel region. Further mill closures would almost certainly lead to more horse-trading, all in anticipation of the government then handing the companies the keys to the treasure chest by allowing them to convert their newly amalgamated holdings into TFLs.

Our forests are, indeed, a public treasure. But the treasure chest has been looted badly. And now is not the time to let what remains be signed away forever under lucrative TFL agreements that reward a handful of companies at the expense of the many.

Now is the time for government to do what it is supposed to do and lead the way to a healthier, more sustainable future for our forests and rural communities.

Anthony Britneff recently retired from a 40-year career with the B.C. Forest Service where he held senior professional positions in inventory, silviculture and forest health.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Proposed forest policy leaves First Nations bereft

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Ben Parfitt, in Vancouver Sun

Ten years ago, the provincial government made the welcome decision to provide greater opportunities for First Nations to participate in and benefit from forestry operations in British Columbia.
The result was a flurry of new resource and revenue sharing agreements between the government and numerous First Nations that underscored the government’s commitment to enter a “new relationship” with the province’s First Peoples.
There was a fundamental flaw with the agreements, however, one that is now painfully obvious as today’s government contemplates controversial new rules that could allow a handful of companies to further entrench their monopoly control of our forest lands.
The flaw was that the agreements were of only short duration (five years) and failed to provide secure rights of access to defined areas of forestland for First Nations to manage as their own.
Complicating matters, the short-term, non-replaceable licences typically covered tracts of trees killed by mountain pine beetles. What the government clearly intended was to marshal First Nations in a concerted “salvage” logging effort in response to the beetle-kill — something everyone knew could not be sustained.
To underscore the vulnerable position that First Nations now find themselves in, let’s turn to the contentious proposal now emanating from the provincial government. The government wants to expand the current network of Tree Farm Licences (or TFLs). These licences carry by far the greatest financial value in the marketplace because they grant TFL holders exclusive rights to manage defined areas of forest over many, many years.
Of somewhat less financial value, but nonetheless still coveted, are replaceable forest licences. These licences are different from TFLs in that they confer rights to log defined numbers of trees over very large landmasses known as Timber Supply Areas (or TSAs). In TSAs, numerous forest licensees may operate. Over time, this has resulted in gentleman’s agreements of sorts where one forest licence holder sticks to a particular corner of a TSA while others operate elsewhere.
What the government now proposes is that the holders of replaceable forest licences be allowed to roll them over into TFLs. The government contends this will result in improved forest management (proponents claim that area-based licences provide greater security, which allows for increased investments in forest management, although there is scant proof of this). But the great danger is that it will deepen existing inequalities. The privileged will reap the windfalls while the underprivileged do without once again.
Here’s how. First Nations can log roughly 8.3 million cubic metres of trees per year. But the vast majority of that cut — 70 per cent — occurs under non-replaceable licences in forests that are running out of trees. Meaning, more than two-thirds of what First Nations have is virtually worthless. It can’t be converted because the timber, quite frankly, isn’t there.
Individual First Nations do hold a few TFLs, and many smaller forest tenures that might be called “mini TFLs” — small woodlots and community forest tenures — and they are grateful for them. But under the proposed government “rollover” policy, First Nations only have about 1.2 million cubic metres of licensed cut that could conceivably be rolled into TFLs.
By comparison, what do the five largest forest companies operating in B.C. stand to gain under the government’s proposed rollover legislation?
Between them, Canadian Forest Products, West Fraser Timber, International Forest Products, Tolko Industries and Western Forest Products control the bulk of what is logged each year in B.C. This includes 80 per cent of all logging done under TFLs. And because of the vast number of replaceable forest licences that those same companies hold (they have 19 times more replaceable forest licence volume than do First Nations) they could effectively triple their TFL holdings in the province, while First Nations, rural communities, small value-added mill owners and others do without.
Allowing a massive conversion of forestlands that further solidifies the hold that the shareholders of a privileged few companies have on Crown lands that are claimed by First Nations is a policy fraught with peril. It undercuts efforts to reach fair and just settlements with First Nations while unnecessarily saddling provincial taxpayers with potentially huge compensation payouts to those same companies down the road, in the event that lands turned over to them as TFLs, are subsequently needed to resolve outstanding aboriginal rights and title cases.
It’s time to roll the proposed rollover policy into the ditch and have a long overdue, wide-ranging discussion about how we chart a new, inclusive course in British Columbia, where the forests we share in common are truly shared. Anything less betrays the public trust and is a giant step back from an as yet unfulfilled new relationship.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip is president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. Ben Parfitt is a resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coast Forest Products Association supports Professional Reliance


The newsletter of the Coast Forest products Association has an article that promotes professional reliance: http://www.coastforest.org/managing-bcs-coastal-forests-professional-reliance-and-public-input/

The article opens with this quotation: “Forestry isn’t rocket science. It is much more complicated” – Dr. Fred Bunnell UBC, Professor Emeritus. 

A good public relations piece on the merits of  trained,experienced professional foresters managing the public forests of British Columbia follows. It is rounded off with the engagement of the public through various public comment and involvement processes to present an idyllic picture of professional reliance. We do seem to be on a trajectory toward a glorious future of sustainable forest management according to the Coast Forest Products Association.

Maybe forestry is more complicated than rocket science. Some sawmills are closing down in the interior of BC at a time when dead timber from the mountain pine beetle epidemic is becoming less use-able. If we are to believe the established story that the epidemic was solely caused by climate change, a rocket scientist would not have been able to predict the major epidemic. The epidemic was predicted by a few humble foresters with lesser intellectual abilities than a rocket scientist. Lodge pole pine trees become susceptible to mountain pine beetle attack when they get about 80 years old. Huge areas of Lodge pole pine much greater than 80 years old were building up in the interior of British Columbia. This happened because the Forest Service suppressed fires in lodge pole pine and forest corporations were not harvesting enough of the species. The average rocket scientist would be able to figure this one out. 

We need to take a few lessons from rocket science. Smart rocket scientists are really into trajectory. Where things are headed, hitting the target and all that sort of thing. Professional reliance in forestry has popped up in BC over the last few years as somewhat of the latest innovation, and is being advanced by the  Association of BC Forest Professionals. However, the concept was in vogue over 100 years ago. The concept was an essential element in British Columbia's decision to retain most of its forests in public ownership. The forest were retained in public ownership so that they could be managed by independent trained forest professionals organized as the BC Forest Service. These trained foresters would be able to work for the public interest and ensure the sustainability of the public forests and their dependent communities. The initial trajectory of professional reliance got caught up in the orbit of the Forest Service handing over increasing forest management responsibilities to forest corporations. That orbit meant a complicated and inefficient regulatory framework that wasted the professional forester resources of both government and forest corporations. There is now a need to get out of this inefficient orbit and go on a new trajectory. 

The BC Government and forest corporations have been orbiting, or going round in circles, for years and are planning to get off and go on a trajectory again. Area based tenures, professional reliance and other associated topics are all part to the public relations launch pad. Where are we headed?  Let us review the last 100 years and think about what the rocket scientist might deduce as the target. 100 years ago we did not want forest corporations to manage our forests so we kept them in public ownership so they could be managed by independent professional foresters. Then we gave forest corporations some forest management responsibilities and they had their own foresters. More forest management control has be handed to forest corporations and now we are thinking about giving forest corporations long term leases in public forests and the public interest will be satisfied because they can rely on corporate employed foresters who will "involve" the public. We have been on a public relations trip for over 60 years to gradually enclose the public forests into the private interest or private timber interests. Professional reliance and other recent topics in BC forestry are just the last public relations booster rockets to propel the public forests inevitably into the private interest.

Don't be fooled, click on Democratic area based forest trusts in the sidebar for another trajectory featuring forest professionals that are accountable to the public through democratic local forest trusts.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Truck Loggers support the "Working Forest"

On the hills and mountains of British Columbia lies a special kind of forest imbued with a kind of moral authority. It is called the "Working Forest" and it is supported by the Truck Loggers Association and also by many forest dependent communities.

The "Working Forest" is the forested parts of timber producing forest landscapes that can be harvested. In mountainous areas it may not be possible to build roads into all parts of the forest. Different types of harvesting equipment are used to move harvested logs to the roads. At the edges of the harvest-able forest, there are some areas that are marginal to harvest for economic reasons. In British Columbia, the average forest landscape has its "working forest" and about an equal area of forest that will not be harvested and stay in somewhat natural condition. This "non working forest" does its goofing-off near mountain tops, waterfalls and canyons and other interesting natural features. It is actually a massive un-designated wilderness area likely to remain in natural condition for the long term.

The "Working Forest" is not just the timber harvesting land in BC's public forests. It is a political and public relations term to frame forest issues and drive a wedge between people in hope of getting enough to line up for the cause. An environmental awakening starting about 1970, raised questions about the hegemony of corporate timber interests in BC public forests. Environmental organisations protested and managed to "save" more forests as protected areas. A large increase in protected areas or BC Parks occurred in the 1990s. Parks were expanded to 13 million hectares. Denmark, Holland and Switzerland together make up a little less than that area. The polarized debate known for a time as the "War in the woods" has never been fully resolved. The environmentalists moral high ground of "saving" forests was countered by the "working" forest. The Truck Loggers and some folk in forest dependent communities supported the "working" forest because they feared reduction in timber dollars. The "working forest" is little more than a political or public relations trick to get the Truck Loggers and forest dependent communities to support or increase the hegemony of corporate timber interests in BC's public forests.

Truck Loggers and folk in forest dependent communities think that they are supporting a strong forest economy by supporting the "working forest" or a forest with a sole economy from timber. The Montreal Process, an international standard for sustainable forest management encourages multiple social and economic benefits from forests. Within the timber part of a forests economy, there should be diversified wood products manufacture to ensure that the forest gives a maximum of value added dollars and employment. This has not been achieved because the forest corporations that control most of the harvest from BC's public forests are mainly into commodity wood products. Export tariffs that are a result of the favored position of these corporations also subtract from our forest economy. While non-timber forest products and nature based forest enterprises may not exceed the economic value of timber, these enterprises can add significant activity to the economy of forest dependent communities. Forested Parks can also add economic activity to forest dependent communities. The forest and other land within timber producing landscapes in BC that can not be harvested is a wilderness area that exceeds the area protected in Parks. Active management of these areas by planning and constructing hiking trails can add to the local tourist economy.

The "working forest" notion is about a limited forest economy that supports working only part of BC's public forests for economic benefit. Truck Loggers and forest dependent communities should set their economic sights a little higher and support a "complete forest" economy. The 'Complete Forest" economy will involve local independent management of forests by a professional management authority that will plan and manage timber, non- timber and nature based forest economic activity in the local landscape. Timber will sold on an open market to encourage diversified wood products manufacture with greater total employment and income. It is time for the Truck Loggers to upgrade from the "working forest" notion that supports corporate timber interests to the "complete forest" economy under a Democratic Local Forest Trust. (Read more about Local Forest Trusts and a British Columbia Forest Trust Assembly by clicking on the sidebar.)


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

British Columbia Truck Loggers having second thoughts?


Early in 2013,the British Columbia Liberal Government administration tried to sneak through legislation to bring more long term area based forest tenures in public forests. Against expectations, the Liberal Government was re-elected and the legislation lies dormant, but will probably resurface after a waiting period. (USA readers should note that Liberal in BC means right of center in the political spectrum). The BC Truck Loggers Association has been holding the torch on this issue and the Fall edition of their magazine has another article on these long term leases in public forests.

The Truck Loggers Association wants a healthy forest economy and has a genuine interest in the stewardship of BC's public forests. Area based forest management of public forests, with a long term steward taking responsibility for a defined area of forest is a much better alternative. There are long term stewardship advantages, but the argument should not be used with the assumption that the steward should be a forest corporation

 The article on area based tenures advances their merits, but there seem to be some doubts or at least second thoughts. TLA Executive Director, Dwight Yochim is suggesting a limit to the amount of area that a forest company may hold to prevent monopolies.
Bill Markvoort, the TLA President also notes "our system of quasi ownership creates significant distortions in the marketplace". 
The cover of the magazine features an excavator laying a pipeline and asks the question "Is this where forest contractors are heading". Forest contractors are still getting squeezed  by forest corporations, even though there has been improvement in the economy of the forest products sector.

Is the present system  working well for Truck Loggers or their communities? Maybe it is time for a major change in the system and institutions for managing public forests in BC. Incremental changes to an old system may not be the most effective. Our system for managing public forests needs to take a major leap or change.

Area based forest management is a better arrangement and more likely to result in a sustainable future for forests, contractors and communities. The next question is what sort of steward do we want to manage the defined area of forest.  Truck Loggers could think outside the box and consider the merits of a democratic local forest trust as the steward in area based management of public forests. If the forest contractor gets poor treatment from the professional managers of the local forest trust, he can appeal to the democratically board. Local forest trusts will manage all forest resources and include non timber forest products and nature based enterprises as part of the business. Timber will be sold on an open market and this will help to diversify forest products manufacture and free British Columbia from discriminatory export taxes. A local forest trust will conduct its own forest operations and will be interested in maintaining local forest contractors with up to date equipment and a high level of forest worker training. A local forest trust will take the concept of the "working forest" beyond the limited timber perspective of the forest corporation and generate greater social license. The  local forest trust will be a long term entity and a more stable steward than forest corporations that can be bought sold or amalgamated. Where is the great blue chip forest corporation Macmillan Bloedel today.  This giant of BC's forest industry disappeared in less time than it takes a tree to grow.  (Click on the sidebar label: Democratic area based forest trusts for more information on  Local Forest Trusts and a BC Forest Trust Assembly)

Truck  Loggers should not be bamboozled by the political rhetoric that will attempt to disguise that granting long term marketable area based forest tenures to forest corporations is an irretrievable step towards enclosing public forests into the private interest.  Historically, enclosure of common or public land has been accomplished gradually by incremental steps so the people get ripped off without noticing. The most recent article in the Truck Logger magazine supplies the following from Jim Hackett of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association: " It's still crown land. It is just another form of tenure that replaces the one that is there now. Currently you don't see fences and 'Keep Out' signs on area based tenures on the coast."  Keeping public forests in nominal Crown Land status will be central ruse in the upcoming grand land enclosure heist involving the theft of most of British Columbia.

We are inclined to think that public land enclosure will never happen in BC. It already has happened. The Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Land Grant comprising probably the best piece of forest land in BC extends down the east side of Vancouver Island was given by BC to a coal baron, against strong public objection, as a bonus after building a railway at the expense of the Government of Canada. Mr. Hackett of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association  should note that there are gates, fences and keep out signs in this area of enclosed forest land.

So Truck Loggers, this is your public forest and please show enough of that good old time logger independence and fortitude. Think of ABT as area based tenure and you have lost it, but if you think ABT as Area Based Trust you keep it. How about a few more articles on the merits of ABT (Area Based Trusts) in your magazine. 








Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fall in a coastal rain forest


Coastal forests of British Columbia experienced Fall rains earlier than usual this year. A summer drought normally extends through September with fall and winter rains usually commencing in October. The temperate rain forest environment has adapted to climate.

There is a hypothesis that the conifers of the Pacific Northwest are bigger than conifers elsewhere in the world because size gives a water holding advantage to overcome summer droughts. Some fern species get dehydrated and die back in the summer drought. They can spring new fresh growth in the Fall to take advantage of the wet moist fall, winter and spring. (See photo).

There is some maple alder and other deciduous species that give some Fall color but otherwise the forest stays green. Most conifers are evergreen with the exception of Larch that turns golden and looses its needles in the Fall. Some ancient living fossil tree species such as Ginkgo and Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides also change color and loose their leaves like deciduous hardwoods. Although conifers don't shed their leaves or needles like deciduous trees, they do loose old leaves or needles. The summer droughts in the coastal forests cause old needles to die and the first winds of fall will bring a carpet of golden needles to the forest floor.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

How do you stay dry in a coastal rain forest?


This year, the fall and winter rains have appeared a little earlier than usual on the coast of British Columbia. Summers bring a drought to coastal rain forests, but the fall winter rain events from October to January bring more than half the total annual rainfall. Ground vegetation in the forest can stay wet for weeks in the rainy season.

How can you stay dry if you work or recreate in a wet rain forest environment?  Everyone tries to combat the wet, but most are unsuccessful. Loggers try heavy rain gear made of a fabric coated on both sides with rubber or vinyl. This keeps the rain out and it is sturdy enough to withstand the tearing effects of thick undergrowth. It keeps the water out, but it also keeps moisture inside. The rainstorms that move in from the Pacific Ocean have their origins in warm southern climates, so rain events often come with mild temperatures. Rain, high humidity and mild temperatures can turn rain gear into sweat buckets. Then you get wet on the inside. The rain gear sticks to clothing and the damp clothes remove heat from the body resulting in a good definition of miserable.

There are some fancy fabrics and clothing that claim to be waterproof and breathable, but most of these do not perform as well as promoted or are easily ripped by undergrowth. The answer to the title question is that you do not stay dry in a coastal rain forest when it is raining. You will get damp or wet, so you need to protect yourself from the heat loss that comes with damp or wet clothing. This can be tricky.  Weatherproof or waterproof winter clothing that is suitable for the extremely cold winters in most of Canada often has too much insulation. You can get overheated and sweat excessively and get wet. Wool is perhaps the best fiber for keeping you warm if it get wet. Thin wool fabrics or a wool component in fabrics helps to keep you warm even when they are damp or wet. The wool fiber has air pockets inside the fiber to provide insulation.

Some folk cannot stand wool near their skin. There are some new synthetic fabrics and underwear that drive moisture away from the skin as a result of body heat. These do seem to work when you are expending energy, but they can feel cold if they are damp and wet and you stop vigorous activity. Thin down filled and waterproof garments will keep you warm even if damp. Cotton fabrics hold moisture and loose their insulation qualities when damp or wet, so it is not a good choice for the rain forest.

The perfect rain forest clothing that deals with water from the outside and moisture on the inside has yet to be developed. Saami or Laplander reindeer boots with upturned pointy ends at the toes was an innovation to deal with sweaty feet in cold weather. The moisture makes its way into the pointy upturned toe where it freezes in some packed fibers and the foot stays dry and warm.




Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lost in the woods



Getting lost in the dark forest is the stuff of legend or fairy tale. What can you do to prevent being lost in a forest? There are a few sensible precautions. Before you go into the forest, it is best to collect some information about the area. A topographical map, or a look at Google Maps or Google Earth can give some understanding of the hills and valleys you will encounter. Carry a compass or a  Global Positioning System GPS. Hand-held GPS devices now come with maps. Sometimes, forest cover will block signals from satellites.

Some people come with some internal direction finding ability and never or very seldom get lost. The opposite is true for some. If you fall into the latter category, it would be best to go into the woods with some one with a good sense of direction. Foresters never get lost in the woods, or that is at least what foresters like to tell people. Forest engineers who go deep in the forest to locate access routes are usually very proud of their direction finding ability. Forest engineers definitely never get lost, although most forest engineers will admit that there were a few times when they were not quite sure where they were in the forest. If there is any distinction between not knowing quite where you are in a forest and being lost, it probably about how you handle things when you get off track or slightly lost.

Expect the unexpected! You seldom get off track in the forest if the terrain is steep and well defined. If you are in a steep mountain valley the topography contains you within terrain that is expected and you would be aware if you went over the ridge into another valley. On a rounded gentle hilltop or plateau surrounded by several valleys it is easy to drop into the wrong valley as you go downhill. Following the stream downhill is common advice, but you have to make sure that it is the right stream. Getting of track often occurs on easy gentle terrain where you least expect it.

Getting off track happens gradually, and you usually pick up a few preliminary signs that something is amiss. The terrain is different than expected, or the hill is the distance is the wrong hill or the right hill but in a seemingly unexpected direction. If you get some of these signals pull out the compass or GPS and check. Stay calm and trust the compass and make the necessary direction change and head for where you need to go. This is simple, but in the forest, with obscured views to distant landmarks it can be easy to convince yourself that you are still on track. Force yourself to o keep calm and have the discipline to trust the instruments and make the necessary correction. If not you can get totally confused and totally lost.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Spirit of place or genius loci


Spirit of place or genius loci is the qualities or characteristics of a landscape that make it unique. Places of exceptional natural beauty or interest are usually places with strong genius loci. Glencoe in Scotland, Yosemite National Park in USA, or the Matterhorn in Switzerland are examples of places with strong genius loci.

British Columbia has mountain scenery and many places with strong or exceptional genius loci that rival or much exceed the qualities in the famous landscapes mentioned above. If we get too much of something good, we tend to lack full appreciation of its full value.

If we look at the photo above, we see a somewhat interesting view of forested hills in the background with a dry rocky site in the foreground. It is not a view with a strong sense of spirit of place or genius loci. If we look carefully at the center right of the photo we see some water. It is the sea, and this landscape is perhaps the southernmost deeply incised fjord in the northern hemisphere. The landscape has a very strong spirit of place or genius loci. However to get a sense of the genius loci of the incised fjord you have to be down in the incised valley.

If you were standing where the photographer took this picture what would you do next?  You would probably walk ahead to try to get a better view down to the fjord. When you get to the edge, you find that the view is blocked by trees. The site has been trampled for this reason. The site contains some of the rarest plants and wildflowers in Canada. It is a protected area or BC Park very close to a major city. The park follows the fjord, but this view toward the fjord is the only one the hiker gets on a five kilometer trail that follows an inland location. The management plan for the park recognizes that it contains a high percentage of environmentally sensitive sites and has objectives for limiting the impacts of human access.

The trail system in the park supplies limited human access. However, this five kilometer stretch of trail does not give hikers any sense of spirit of place, so they go exploring toward the fjord and their random access is often over sensitive sites with rare plants.

The solution is to put a new trail closer to the fjord with a few views and other points of interest along the way and people will stay on the trail and appreciate the spirit of place. Perhaps BC lacks the genius to handle its places!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Forests and the visual landscape


Forest change and activity can stand out in the visual landscape. The size of the clear cut in this photo stands out in the landscape. Shape is even more important than size. A small geometric clear cut with straight edges will grasp the eye, while one of similar size with a natural shape with no straight lines will blend into the landscape.

Selection silvicultural systems and shelterwood systems allow for forest regeneration as the older crop trees are gradually harvested. The harsh color contrast of clear cuts are avoided and a harmonious landscape appearance is maintained. The visual appearance of a forest landscape can be maintained with non clear cut silviculture. However, clear cuts can also be designed to reduce visual impact.
While this clear cut is visible, its non geometric shape blends better than a square or rectangular block on the hillside.  A similar clear cut on the lower left of the photo is just starting to green up and blend with the forest background. Foresters and landscape specialists use geographic information computer systems and specialized software to produce 3-D projections of proposed cut blocks to plan and reduce visual impacts.

Some of the methods and techniques for planning the visual appearance of forest landscapes originated in Great Britain for rather unlikely reasons. Britain set up a Forestry Commission to establish forests after experiencing timber shortages in World War I. This trend of forest establishment continued after World War II. Straight lines were a common feature of forest boundaries. Sometimes these were old property boundaries. In Scotland and other parts of Britain, deer were a problem and new forests needed to be surrounded by high deer fences. To reduce the total length and cost of fencing large square or rectangular blocks of forest were established. Even within geometric blocks of forest, there might be a geometric block of larch, a conifer that turns golden in the fall and sheds its needles. Rather than cut blocks it was geometric blocks of forests in the landscape that drew negative attention from the public. Over the past half century methods and techniques that are a blend of art and science have been employed to make the forests blend more harmoniously into the landscape. Some of their texts even show photographs of the transition of natural forests to alpine conditions in British Columbia as examples.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Democratic area based forest trusts or neo-feudal area based forest tenures

Dwight Yochim, RPF, Executive Director of the Truck Loggers Association notes:
"I think Green BC Communities and the TLA are actually on the same page here. We both want a diversified working forest where all stakeholders have fair access to BC’s working forest — a sustainable and renewable public resource."

We agree, but the train that we are on, will not get us to that destination. 


We need to think about the entire legal and institutional framework for sustainable forest management:

How will a political jurisdiction handle its forests?  What system will it use? In British Columbia in the early Twenty First Century, our thoughts turn to the "forest tenure system".  Even those that want to change the system talk about "forest tenure reform".  We do not need to think about a "tenure system" but a "legal and institutional framework that supports sustainable forest management and forest conservation".  This is the description of the "system" in the Montreal Process.  It is an international agreement on forest conservation and sustainable forest management.

The idea that you need a legal and institutional framework that supports sustainable forest management emerged at the end of the Twentieth century. British Columbia  instituted a progressive framework to support sustainable forest management at the start of the Twentieth Century.  BC decided to retain its forests in public ownership and have them managed by an independent professional forest service. Public ownership was intended to support sustainable stewardship:

  • A single enduring owner could protect the forest from ownership changes or fragmentation
  • Government as trustee could ensure independent forest management
  • Public timber would be available to all to encourage a diverse forest economy and ensure that forests did not get controlled or used improvidently by big timber interests.               
         

If BC had followed through on the above concepts, we would have already achieved what the Truck Loggers Association desires. 

Tenure in Public Forests?

We added a second piece to our legal and institutional framework.  The forest tenure system, whether volume or area based, is a system of private timber harvesting rights in public forests. How do you get to sustainable forest stewardship by as system of harvesting rights? The right to take crops from someone else's land is known as a usufruct. The Romans first tried it, and it is a good method for reducing productivity of the land.


Where does a public forest managed under at tenure system end up? A system of private rights in a public forest will arrive at the destination of complete enclosure of our forest into private corporate interests. The BC Government has been transferring forest management responsibilities to forest corporations or decades. Harvesting rights will morph into greater control of forest areas. Some form of long-term leases will be used initially with politicians telling us that we still own the land.

 Occasionally, Green BC Communities is advised that use of the term "public forests" is not correct and that our forests are really "Crown Forests".  Crown Forest is the correct technical term. If you delve further into the technicalities, you find that they are Crown Forests held by the Government of British Columbia. We tend to equate government with the state. However a democratic government actually represents the people against the power of state or Crown. If the Government is exercising its proper role for the people, then public forests or Crown forests should be the same thing.  

It seems that successive British Columbia government administrations have taken a literal meaning of Crown Forests.  Instead of acting as trustees for the people and their forests, they have acted as a king and handed out big chunks of timber harvesting rights to the lords that would help them extract money from the woods. These are the major forest corporations. The serfs, the ones that do the work out on the land, that stay with the land even if owners change, are the forest contractorsSerfs got barely enough. Serfs were also expected fight for the lords in any dispute.  The progressive vision for Public Forests in British Columbia has been corrupted into a regressive exercise in neo-feudalism.
                
Tenure is at the root of many problems in the forest and forest economy: Do we want this approach for the future?

The management of BC's public forests by the king and the majors is an intriguing dance of hypocrisy and facade worthy of any feudal royal court. Both stewards are in it for the money. The king has to be lenient on the majors while convincing the public that the forest environment is protected against exploitation. A facade of ever changing process consumes forest management effort in attempt to disguise the core conflict. Leniency exercised by the king toward his majors is a prime factor in forest problems faced on the BC coast. The king's allocation of most timber harvesting rights to a few majors reduced diversification in wood manufacture. It also created a non-market oligopoly in timber supply that is censured by the imposition of tariffs or taxes on our exported wood products

Facades developed to prop the tenure system have shown little regard for the stewardship of forest landscapes. Fragmentation of stewardship to BC Timber sales to create the appearance of a market, or to communities to create a semblance of community forests, or for reparations for past social injustice may not be in the best long term interests of the local forest landscape. There are better approaches to addressing these issues than tinkering with an already outdated tenure system.

In the interior of BC, the leniency and mutual support between the king and the majors got a kick in the pants from Mother Nature. The king assisted the majors by fighting fires in fire-dominated ecosystems. This was intended to save lodge pole pine from the fire for the sawmill. The majors were more interested in sawing other more profitable species. The efforts of the king and majors combined to create huge areas of old lodge pole pine susceptible to mountain pine beetle attack. A mountain pine beetle epidemic was an explosion waiting to happen. A huge mountain pine beetle epidemic ensued. The public, eager for a simple easy-to-understand answer, were satisfied that the epidemic was caused by climate change that enabled the beetles to survive the winter. While overwinter beetle survival was a factor it was not the whole story. Some losses to mountain pine beetle attack are probably unavoidable, but there were avoidable losses in the recent epidemic. Leniency between the king and his majors caused losses valued in several tens of billions of dollars. This is value and dollars that would have flowed to forest contractors and communities. While the average member of the public should be excused for accepting the mild winter story as the only unavoidable factor, the entire forest management community also likes to accept the story. A neo-feudal system runs our public forests and it does not want to acknowledge its errors. It will repeat these errors to the detriment of forest communities and contractors.

Responsibility for forest stewardship needs to replace rights to harvest timber.

British Columbia needs to revise its legal and institutional framework for conservation and sustainable forest management. We need to move from a system of private timber harvesting rights to a system that is based on stewardship responsibilities. Our public forests involve a huge area and we need to develop a system that provides local autonomy and avoids all the potential pitfalls of a centrally controlled large government bureaucracy. It needs to deliver the outcome specified by the Executive Director of the TLA above. It needs checks and balances to avoid the problems experienced over the past century.

Trusteeship of our public forests is the first issue that needs to be addressed. Have successive BC Government administrations over the last century exercised effective trusteeship to ensure forest sustainability?  Our politicians operated without guidance of any trust documents. How much weight was given to forest stewardship as they considered wealth, revenue economic development that would result from forest development?  How much interest will politicians give to forests in future? A size-able part of the virgin timber wealth has been extracted and the electorate will be predominately urban.

Devolved Trusteeship: the area based sustainable forest management alternative.Trusteeship can be improved by devolving it from the central BC Government into the hands of local public in forest dependent areas. Devolved trusteeship would operate under trust documents that ensure sustainable stewardship. This provides more security than a central government operating without constraint of trust documents. The provisions of the Montreal Process are comprehensive and could provide the basis for the trust documents.  Under the Montreal Process definition the term "diversified working forest" would mean that the managers of the Local Forest Trust would be responsible for open market supply of timber to a variety of wood using industries to ensure maximum economic and value return to communities. The managers would also be responsible for creating economy and social benefit out of non-timber resources and nature based activities. Local Forest Trust managers would work the non timber harvesting portions of forest landscapes.

A Local Forest Trust would not be a right, but a responsibility for stewardship of a large forest landscape. The area within the trust should be sufficient to permit economic forest operations and support a forest management staff. The public in the communities and rural areas in the vicinity of the Local Forest Trust would be represented on an elected board through a ward system. The elected board represents the public and community interests. The professional forest staff represent the interests of the forest. They also plan and conduct forest operations and manage the forest like a business. Forest regeneration and infrastructure maintenance would be a direct expense of business. Forest revenues will be directed to forest renewal rather than being scalped off by central government or corporations.

A BC Forest Trust Assembly governed by elected and professional representatives from local forest trusts would audit, provide collective services such as fire fighting, insurance, research and extension. It would also act as a court of appeal for boards, professional staff, contractors and the public.
Under a new local forest trust system, the public forests do not get fragmented into a variety of private timber harvesting rights tenures or made vulnerable to enclosure into the private interest. The local forest trust system divides public forests into large manageable economic units that have an accountable steward.  Professional forest managers represent the forest and are accountable to the public through an elected board. The Local Forest Trust is accountable to the wider public and British Columbia through a Forest Trust Assembly.

Local Forest Trusts: an accountable democratic and free enterprise solution
A change in the legal and institutional framework for ensuring sustainable management of public forests is long overdue. The move from a tenure system to a trust system is not so great a change as it first appears. The Government will not need to maintain a forest service.  Forest industry will buy logs. Timber supply and forest health will improve with local independent and autonomous stewardship.  Public forests will be managed and maintained as businesses. Open markets for timber will encourage diversification in wood products manufacture and higher revenue for the forest.  Local forest contractors will be encouraged and developed in the pursuit of good stewardship.  The managers of public forests will be accountable to the local public, their peers and the wider public through the Forest Trust Assembly.  The change should be viewed as a better and more efficient deployment of forest management personnel to serve the needs of sustainable forest management in BC.   Existing tenures would not be expropriated but continue to their normal expiry date or other arrangement with the Local Forest Trust. This will enable a gradual transition.

First Nations will either be entrusted with a local forest trust or be represented on the board of a local forest trust depending on geography and situation. The Forest Trust Assembly and local forest trusts could also make special effort and provision for the training and employment of First Nation people. Some forest areas of British Columbia have no local populations, or no one to take advantage of the democratic representation provisions of a local forest trust. These areas would be managed by professional staff like local trusts but would be accountable to the Forest Trust Assembly. 

So, a local forest trust is not another form of forest tenure or timber harvesting right. It is a trust or a responsibility that is exercised democratically by citizens of forest dependent areas. It provides a new institutional framework for the stewardship of public forests in British Columbia. It will also give forest dependent communities and forest contractors a direct sense of ownership and control of their local forest landscapes.  This will stop existing progress toward enclosure of public forests and prevent any future attempts. It will be strongly resisted by the interests that wish to enclose public forests through fear tactics about economic downfall. The Local Forest Trust is a much stronger economic model that the existing one and it will revitalize the forest economy of BC. It solves potential pitfalls on the public side by not having a central government controlling bureaucracy. The autonomous local forest management units will engage in open market supply of timber and additional free enterprise from forest values. It will replace a cumbersome central government bureaucracy and put an end to the government created non-competitive forest oligopoly that is being censured by discriminatory tariffs.

Truck Loggers Association needs to consider the progressive area based local forest trust solution

Green BC Communities calls on Truck Loggers Association to rethink its trickle-down obedience to the neo-feudal forest tenure system of British Columbia. In early 2013, the previous Liberal Government administration was foiled in its attempts to include provisions for more area based tenures. The Truck Loggers Association has been first to put it back on the table. 

Legislated provisions for more area based forest tenures will mark a watershed in the gradual enclosure of British Columbia's public forests into the private interest. Does the Truck Loggers Association want to give our public forests away?  
Devolved local forest trusts, take our forests back and places them within the control of local democratic institutions that operate them under a free enterprise business framework.