Sunday, April 28, 2013

Consider the Lilies of the forest

Lilies can be found in the forest of south west British Columbia in the spring like the Trillium above and white fawn lilies below.

 Other flowers such as the Fairy Slipper Orchid below can also be found.

These Shooting stars flowers are from the primrose family.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:; 28-29

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Local Forest Trusts and Community Forest Licenses; the difference

Recent advocacy for devolved trusteeship of public forests in BC to local communities has raised the comment " but British Columbia already has a Community Forest License program".  What is the difference?

BC's existing community forest licence program is little more than a public relations facade. It accounts for under 2% of the timber harvest from public forests. They are just a different type of timber harvesting license or right and are not an attempt to devolve forest management responsibilities to local communities. BC's complete landscapes of public forests should enable un-fragmented management of forest landscapes. Community forest licenses usually involve fragments of landscapes. The focus is on timber harvest just like the industrial forest management by forest corporations.

Local Forest Trusts envision the devolution of sustainable forest management trusteeship to local communities. The reason they are called local forest trusts rather than community forest trusts is that the stewardship of the forest should take priority. Large areas of local forest landscape with a minimum size of 100,000 ha would be identified and assessed to ensure that they could be a viable economic forest operation. They would have to support a local forest management staff. The forest has the entitlement to good local stewardship. In some cases this will mean that more than one community or rural area will share an interest in the management of the local forest landscapes in the area. Communities and rural areas would be represented on the elected board of the local forest trust under a ward system.

Local Forest Trusts will focus on more than just timber harvest. Another public relations facade in BC forestry is sustainable forest management certification. Many forest company forest operations are certified under these schemes. However, most of these schemes do not question the existing legal and institutional framework in a jurisdiction. In BC, the legal and institutional arrangements are built around timber harvesting rights in public forests. We see our forests as timber dollars and other forest values as a constraint or nuisance. We focus on the single economic benefit of timber. The Montreal Process, an international definition of sustainable forest management encourages a different view. It encourages multiple economic and social benefits from forest management. This does not mean that timber dollars take the back seat but that you add to them by encouraging economic activity in non timber forest resources and in non consumptive nature based recreational activities. The average forest landscape in BC has less than half its area in timber that can be harvested. The remainder is in most cases undisturbed natural area or wilderness. Although BC has a large area of protected area or parks, the un-designated wilderness areas within timber producing forest landscapes is larger in area. The local forest trusts would be business entities charged with the stewardship of all resources in the landscape. Money would not be siphoned off to central government or government coffers but used for the upkeep of the forest and infrastructure including recreational facilities. BC Parks in contrast is underfunded and has difficulty in providing the essential stewardship of our Parks. The local forest trust would have the autonomy to ensure that its wilderness trail and recreational infrastructure were top notch are a major visitor and tourist attraction for the local economy.  You would go to the local forest trust office to get a hunting licence.

The community forest licence lies in the timber harvesting rights box. The Local Forest Trust represents thinking outside of the old box. The old box is not working because the forest sector and forest dependent communities are suffering. The old box's solution to its problems will be some more progress toward the enclosure of public forests into the private interest of forest corporations.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Clear cut British Columbia's public forests, then steal them.

Everyone's Land Claim

Gradual or sneak privatization of British Columbia's Public Forests has been underway for decades.  Successive BC governments have handed over increasing forest management responsibilities to forest corporations.  In March 2013, an attempt by the Liberal government to give forest corporations long term leases to areas of public forests was foiled.
Our politicians in Victoria have demonstrated their failure as trustees of our public forests for over a century. We need new accountable institutions for the trusteeship of our public forests, to prevent their inevitable enclosure into the private interest.
Local Forest trusts and a British Columbia Forest Trust Assembly are promising alternatives:
Local Forest Trusts with an elected board and professional forest management staff would operate large areas of forest landscape under a sustainable forest management charter. The charter would be based on the Montreal Process, an international agreement on sustainable forest management and conservation. Local forest trusts would operate as businesses drawing revenue from timber and non timber forest resources as well as nature based economic activities. Timber would be sold on the open market to encourage a diversified forest industry.  Local forest trusts would not be able to contract out or license forest management to major forest corporations.  However, small local business, First Nation's and family stewardship licenses for woodlots, non timber and nature based enterprises would be encouraged. Proceeds of forest operations would first be directed toward the stewardship of the forest and its infrastructure, rather than to general provincial revenues or corporate coffers.
While local forest trusts would have considerable freedom to operate under their sustainable forest management charters, collective services such as aerial firefighting and auditing of local forest trusts would be done by a BC Forest Trust Assembly. The Forest Trust Assembly would be governed by an equal number of elected and professional delegates from local forest trusts. The Forest Trust Assembly would also act as a court of appeal.
The new institutions would put our forests under professional management that is accountable to the public or share holders. Forest companies will be able to purchase wood on an open market. This will encourage secondary value added manufacturers and free our wood exports from discriminatory tariffs.  Proceeds of forest operations can be used for forest stewardship rather than being siphoned off to corporate or central government coffers. There will be better protection of the environment and active management of non timber and recreational resources. This will provide additional economic activity and employment. First Nation's communities will also be able to have local forest trusts in an equal system that will give long term employment opportunities.