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.