If forest licenses are going to be changed there have to be some guarantees.
That’s the message former chief forester Joe Stentsinger has heard during his consultation meetings on tenure reform.
“I’ve heard support from people who believe it should happen but only after an updated forest inventory is in place,” he said in Williams Lake Thursday after meeting with seven groups from the region.
People have said the transfer from a replaceable forest license to a tree farm license has to demonstrate there aren’t any negative implications to First Nations, that there are demonstrated benefits to the annual allowable cut through increased investments in silviculture, planning or inventories.
Before Williams Lake, he met groups in Smithers, Burns Lake and Quesnel, and stopped in Houston and Vanderhoof to talk with elected officials.
Many people have told him they want to see demonstrated community benefits.
Others said any commitments licensees make in their conversion proposal must be legally ensconced in a licensed document that is clear, measurable and enforceable.
“Another theme I’ve heard is the fact one size won’t fit all,” he said. “There will be instances where it makes sense and instances where it doesn’t.
There is also a demand for a very rigorous public consultation process prior to the minister reviewing a proponent’s application.
Currently the government’s discussion paper on tenure reform suggests before a proponent gets invited to apply for a tree farm license, the proponent has to demonstrate to the minister they actually have local support for the potential conversion of their replaceable license to an area based tenure.
Based on that demonstrated local support, the minister may or not invite them to apply, Snetsinger explained, adding there would be a 60-day referral period for public consultation.
If the minister decides to go ahead with this enabling legislation, which there is no guarantee of at this point, it’s at that application stage that the public really has an opportunity to comment on the application and the proponent has to demonstrate how they’ve taken those comments into consideration, Stentsinger told the Tribune.
Workshops are also slated with First Nations on May 14 in Kamloops and May 20 in Nanaimo.