Area based tenures a controversial topic

According to Don Kayne, president and CEO of Canfor Corporation Vancouver, his focus is to make sure they have...

According to Don Kayne, president and CEO of Canfor Corporation Vancouver, his focus is to make sure they have access to enough fiber to meet the needs of their customers, and they need the support of British Columbians to operate on public lands.

He goes on to say in his letter to the Vancouver Sun on April 15, “We feel the benefits of area based tenures are marginal at best and that there are many higher priorities that would yield greater positive impacts.”

So who is behind the government’s push to change our volume based system to area based tenures?

If you read the Forest Minister’s comments on the government site, it appears that there are two companies in favour of the conversion.

The government itself appears to be looking for issues it can take credit for in the next election.

If the government issues a few TFLs before the next election it will claim the public will benefit from an increased investment by the corporations in control of these area based tenures.

Some suggested reading will show this is a very controversial issue.

With the lack of public interested in the issue, the government may just pull this off.

The problem is a lack of long term vision and commitment to well managed forests that profit local communities as much or more than large corporations.

It will take real courage and possibly a different governance model (like local forest trusts) to change the monopolies in our tenure and lumber processing arrangements.

Adequate public involvement surely has to be more than the “invitation only” approach outlined in the May 1 forest tenure consultation process proposed by the government and headed by Jim Snetsinger.

Maybe we could get some specifics from Mr. Kayne based on another quote from his letter.

“Canfor would only support a fully transparent process that is fair to all licences and involves sufficient public support of British Columbians.”

For those who got an invitation to meet with Mr. Snetsinger you might ask these questions if they are not already on your list.

What are the government’s long-term plans regarding corporate monopolies of the tenures and processing facilities?

Is there any limit to the concentration of corporate power the government will tolerate on our public forest lands?

Currently in Williams Lake, we are down to two companies with volume based tenures controlling most of the milling capacity.

Is the government concerned about further amalgamation into a single corporation controlling 90 per cent of the milling capacity and 80 per cent of the tenures of this province?

What plans do they have for dealing with the intrusion of genetically modified (GM) plants onto the public forests?

Are they concerned that the research on GM poplar trees could lead the way for a Monsanto-type corporation controlling our forests like they control many crops in the agriculture industry?

Some suggestions on how you can express your opinions are the following:

In the case of the TFL issue, I suggest you read some articles by Bill Bourgeois or Fred Marshall.

Both are RPFs and provide a good review of the issues leading up to the government’s proposals.

Some may recall that Mr. Bourgeois worked for Lignum before it was taken over by one of the corporate feeding frenzies.

You could phone, send letters, attend meetings or participate in the government’s site, http://engage.gov.bc.ca/foresttenures.

 

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.