Thursday, April 3, 2014

BC Government's Consultation process on area based forest tenures


The BC Government's consultation process on area based forest tenures can be found at:
http://engage.gov.bc.ca/foresttenures/

A blog where you can post your input can be found at:
http://engage.gov.bc.ca/foresttenures/2014/04/01/post-1/

From the Website: "Government is committed to broad public engagement on the topic of converting some or a portion of some volume-based forest licences to new or expanded area-based tree farm licences. This is intended to help address the issue of a declining timber supply in B.C.’s Interior caused by the mountain pine beetle. This site is the place for you to learn more about the concept and to provide feedback. Feedback is specifically being gathered on:
  • the social, economic and environmental benefits that should be sought from proponents interested in converting their forest licences, and
  • the criteria for evaluating applications and the process for implementing conversions, including specific application requirements and target locations for conversion opportunities."

This means a major change to the legal and institutional framework for sustainable forest management is being contemplated by the Government of British Columbia. This is not just a slight reworking of forest tenure arrangements and could lead to the enclosure of public forests into the private interest.

There are a wide variety of ways that area based forest management could be conducted within a legal and institutional framework for managing public forests. The BC Government's consultation process considers only one option. It is a tinkering with an existing legal and institutional framework that has given serious sustainability problems on the coast and the interior of BC. There are two possible reasons for the limited option:

  1. The Government, its agencies and other advisers lack the vision, imagination and ingenuity to consider and develop other options for area based forest management within a legal and institutional framework that will support sustainable forest management in British Columbia.
  2. Tenure is a private right within the public forest, and the tentacles of enclosure of public forests are already sufficiently strong that only option for consultation is one bound to put control of public forests into the private interest.

The Government has tried to move in this direction before,but has been dissuaded by loud public dissent.  This time there have been some public relations moves to pave the way in these never-ending attempts to move to give forest corporations greater control over public forests. One of these is the concept of "Professional Reliance" that embodies the idea that professional foresters will look after the public interest even if they get their paycheck from a forest corporation.

Government needs to hear more than dissent from the public of British Columbia this time. The public needs to provide the Government of British Columbia some better ideas on how to implement area based forest management. These would include a much enhanced form of "Professional Reliance"
that would see forest professionals working for the public and directly accountable to a local elected board. These professionals would also work under a charter requiring comprehensive sustainable management to international standards. 

The next posts will explore better arrangements for area based forest management

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage comments and questions