Friday, January 10, 2014

Truck Logger BC magazine provides a forum for debate on area based forest management

Debate is needed on institutional arrangements for long term area based forest management in the public forest of British Columbia. This is an important issue. Truck Logger BC, the magazine of the Truck Loggers Association has done a good job of bringing the issues to the public square.

The institutional arrangement for area based forest management that is most proposed is the conversion of existing timber tenures into long term area based tenures. Those that are opposed to this arrangement have been subjected to false, misleading, straw man arguments that they are opposed to area based forest management. Area based forest management has many advantages and there are other institutional arrangements available for its implementation in the public forests of British Columbia.

The following letter has been sent to Brenda Martin, editor of the magazine as a reminder that there are different ways of implementing area based forest management:

To: Brenda Martin, Editor
Truck Logger BC
Re: Institutions for Area Based Forest Management

Truck Logger BC is to be commended for providing a forum for the discussion of area based forest management.

Area based forest management is a good solution and should be implemented in BC. We need good institutions for implementing long term area based forest management. It is unwise to assume that a roll-over of the present tenure arrangements will provide satisfactory institutional arrangements that will be good for the forest, forest contractors and their communities in the long term.
Our strongest foundational institution for ensuring sustainable forest management in British Columbia is our large un-fragmented area of public forests. It was intended to provide the primary tenure holders, the public, with a high standard of independent forest management and an open and unrestricted market for public timber to stimulate a free enterprise forest industry.

Are we going to achieve satisfactory area based forest management by fragmenting and enclosing our large areas of public forests into long term private and corporate holdings?  A non-market, allocated timber supply will ensure long term vulnerability to discriminatory wood export tariffs.  A diversity of area based tenures will only exacerbate the problem of fragmentation. Is this solution likely to provide strong social license, or initiate a sustained campaign of civil disobedience?

A promising solution for long term area based forest management is devolution of the control of public forests to local forest trusts. The local forest trusts would have a charter to manage a large, economic and un-fragmented area of public forest landscape. Local communities and rural areas would have elected representatives on a board and there would be professional forest managers charged with comprehensive management of all forest resources and forest economic opportunities. The trusts would be operated on a business basis and timber would be freely available on an open market. Revenue needed to maintain the forest could not be scalped off by central government or corporations. Local forest trusts would be supported and audited by a British Columbia Forest Trust Assembly governed by elected and professional delegates from local forest trusts.

Truck Loggers are innovative, enterprising and quick to adopt a better way of doing things. An area based tenure is about as up to date as a wooden spar tree. It is our forest and it should be managed for us.  Area based forest management does not have to come with increased corporate control and enclosure of our public forests. It could come with a democratic local board, accountable independent professional forest managers, an open market, free enterprise and a court of appeal in a BC Forest Trust Assembly.

Click on Democratic area based forest trusts in the side bar for more information

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