Wikipedia says that sleight of hand is the set of techniques used by a magician to manipulate objects secretly. The word sleight comes from the Old Norse language meaning cleverness, cunning, slyness. Well, despite being a ‘have’ province, what the B.C. government has just recently proposed is the opposite of clever despite trying hard to pull off a sleight of hand move on the B.C. public.
The B.C. government is proposing to allow for private companies to apply to transfer their volume-based logging tenure to an area-based logging tenure that would increase the amount of land under the control of logging companies in the form of Tree Farm Licenses. The government says they are doing it to improve forest management but no one, not even major logging companies, are falling for that terrible sleight of hand. The proposed change would give companies exclusive logging rights over vast areas of forest land without meaningfully addressing the poor state of B.C’.s forests, the need for improved forest practices and regulation, or First Nations title and rights.
Below are Greenpeace’s comments to the Minister on the proposed forest tenure changes. We are asking British Columbians to visit the government’s consultation website to reject the tenure rollover proposal and instead demand a coherent action plan to restore B.C.’s badly damaged forests. We can roll back this tenure roll over with your help.
All of this is coming immediately after passing changes through Bill 4, which is a short list of amendments to the Parks Act that threaten our world class parks network and 100 years of work that has gone into protecting wild places for the public to enjoy. The changes undermine the integrity of our smaller parks and allow for pipeline companies to ‘research’ and propose changes to park boundaries so pipelines can be run right through them. We are delivering a 160,000 signature petition to the Environment Minister next week in Victoria. If you are around and want to join us, check the FB event page.
Clearly no magic happening in B.C. today,
Stephanie Goodwin is the B.C. Director for Greenpeace. She works out of Vancouver but can often be seen roaming the streets of Thunder Bay and Toronto.
LETTER TO THE MINISTER OF FORESTS, LANDS AND NATURAL RESOURCE OPERATIONS
Dear Minister Thomson,
Greenpeace would like to provide comment to the government’s tenure change proposal called Area Based Forest Tenure Consultation. We are concerned that the current proposal to allow for private companies to apply to transfer their volume-based tenure to an area-based tenure would increase the amount of land under the control of logging companies in the form of Tree Farm Licences in the absence of a comprehensive plan for forest health and community transition.
The proposed changes to tenures would give companies exclusive logging rights over vast areas of forest land without meaningfully addressing the poor state of B.C’.s forests, the need for improved forest practices and regulation, or First Nations title and rights. A comprehensive approach is needed in the wake of the mountain pine beetle and the subsequent uplift approved by your government, which has resulted in declining forests in need of recovery and a lower AAC. We are disappointed that your Ministry is recycling a patchwork proposal that doesn’t improve forest management and has already been widely rejected.
A similar initiative, Bill 8, was proposed before the 2013 election by your government. It was withdrawn after being roundly rejected by diverse community and economic interests, environmental organizations and in some cases, logging company executives concerned about the reputation of B.C. forestry. Conditions have not changed to make the same proposal viable today.
Instead, the B.C. government should seek input for an overarching plan to address the poor health of our forests. The recent example of Canfor and West Fraser’s unsanctioned logging of almost one million cubic metres of green forest in the pine beetle salvage region without penalty illustrates how badly provincial forest management has faltered.
Greenpeace is requesting you, as FLNR Minister, exercise political leadership and take this proposal off the table and replace it with a comprehensive action plan for healthy forests and healthy communities carried by a broad vision for a more diverse and resilient future for provincial forest lands.
A coherent action plan should address a lack of government oversight and enforcement, continuing mill closures and job losses, unsustainable rates of logging, native and non-native community control over forests, insufficient protection for critical species habitat, raw log exports, regional monopolies, shortfalls in reforestation, lack of inventory and research as a result of cutbacks, massive forest carbon emissions and climate impacts like the Mountain Pine Beetle and fire threats.
Greenpeace is also concerned about the forestry emergency in the Interior resulting from the Pine Beetle infestation and overharvesting, which will require a dramatic short-term reduction of the annual cut, accompanied by significant support for impacted communities to allow for economic recovery including forestry.
An example of a coherent long-term approach to achieve the goal of healthy forests and healthy communities is underway in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest, which will result in increasing conservation and a long-term timber supply based on Ecosystem-Based Management.
B.C.’s world-class forests are deteriorating fast and business as usual is no longer an option. We can and should expect more from our government when we have examples of comprehensive solutions such as the Great Bear Rainforest to draw upon.
Greenpeace is an international environmental organization that works to protect forests globally. The conservation and ecologically sustainable management of British Columbia’s forests is an organizational priority.
Thank you for your consideration of Greenpeace’s comments. I have formally responded to your request to participate in a consultation meeting with Mr. Snetsinger. More detail will be made directly at such a meeting.
B.C. Director, Greenpeace