Section 24 Bill 8 Forest License roll overs into Tree Farm Licenses
Letter from FER Board to :
Minister Thomson and Minister de Jong:
Re: Section 24 from Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act…. Bill 8…. which allows rollover for large volume based tenures to obtain exclusive land use through awarding of Tree Farm Licenses (TFLs).
Friends of Ecological Reserves (FER) made presentation to the MLAs Special Committee on Timber Supply last July. We believe the majority of presentations to this committee, including our own (Reference 1 linked below), do not support roll over of major volume-based forest licensees to new area based Tree Farm License tenures. We request that Section 24 of the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act be removed.
There are serious challenges facing forests and uncertainty whether our current management sustains the suite of forest values we enjoy. This was noted by BC auditor general when assessing key tools for managing biodiversity (Reference 2 linked below). Provincial forests are a publically held asset and FER and many others believe there must be wider public debate and engagement on forest management preceding tenure awards and a more transparent factual assessment of the status quo costs and benefits before monumental shifts in forest management are made. We are concerned that the timber goal is paramount to all other values and that there is no clear publically stated timber management objective as pointed out in 2012 by the auditor general (Reference 3 linked below).
Under TFL tenure private rights transferable to corporations include rights to control access; to withhold information about public land (e.g., inventory statistics and maps); to sell and transfer the TFL tenure even though there was no cost to a company in the award; and to receive compensation if, for example, treaty negotiations should settle land title in favour of First Nations. We believe that section 24 introduces huge liabilities to British Columbians and severely limits future for managing soil and ecosystem productivity, water quantity and quality, a sufficiently robust array of fish and wildlife habitats needed to sustain both regionally important and threatened and endangered species, sustain a full array of recreation opportunity and maintain the diversity and resilience of complex ecosystems so needed transport our incredible biological diversity into an uncertain future climate.
We have cc’ed some of the other organizations that made presentation to Special Committee on Timber Supply in a belief that they too may be concerned with this massive tenure reform.
President of Friends of Ecological Reserves
On behalf of the board.
1. Sierra Club of BC
2. BC Nature
3. BC Wildlife Federation
4. David Suzuki Foundation
5. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society BC Chapter
6. Western Canada Wilderness Society
7. All BC MLAs
Reference 1. Presentation to MLAs committee. http://ecoreserves.bc.ca/2012/