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.