Last Thursday, the Special Committee on Timber Supply held a meeting in Williams Lake where concerns, ideas, and experiences were relayed from elected officials, forestry workers, and other members of the public. It was an important meeting to have, and it’s clear that the committee and the government have a gruelling task ahead of them.
Unfortunately, there were some comments made that were, to put it mildly, not very constructive, such as a comment that industry and the government intentionally spread the mountain pine beetle around — just like smallpox — so they can get access to green wood and leave First Nations with the dead wood (see story page A1). We strongly disagree with such statements.
Other suggestions, though not as inflammatory, also raise concern such as the idea to reduce administration and obligations on timber harvesters in order to make it economically feasible for licensees to log steep slopes and low-volume stands. While more information on such an idea could be investigated further, such a move leads one to wonder if that could create loopholes that could undermine the forests’ future further.
Some presenters had some very good points, including using wood for value-added purposes and switching to an area-based tenure system, as opposed to the current volume-based tenure system.
Switching to an area-based model would not only allow a more level playing field for licensees, small and large, but would — most importantly — provide strong incentives to licensees to manage the forests sustainably, much like woodlot owners, for the long haul — a far better alternative to harvesting old-growth management areas. And there would also be more accountability. However, how area-based tenures could be implemented at this stage in the game, when ribbons already decorate the trees in areas soon to be logged, remains to be seen.
Time is running out.
Whatever happens, we hope the powers that be look ahead to the future — our community’s future and the forests’ future — to not simply buy us some time but to create a plan that keeps our forests and the industry and communities that depend on them vibrant long into the future.
— Erin Hitchcock