Government restarts forest licence review

Forests minister says area-based licences are incentive to better care, NDP says it's a political payoff for big forest companies

Former B.C. chief forester Jim Snetsinger is touring the province for the next two months to hear from citizens

Former B.C. chief forester Jim Snetsinger is leading a public discussion this spring about converting volume-based logging licences to area-based tenures, a proposal the B.C. government backed away from before last spring’s election.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson announced the consultation this week and released a discussion paper for comment on a new website that will collect comments until May 30.

About 60 per cent of the logging on Crown land in B.C. is through volume-based forest licences, which give companies permission to cut a specified volume in the licence area. Thomson said the proposed change to area-based licences is to encourage companies to make longer-term investment in planting and silviculture to increase future productivity on Crown land. Area-based licences give the holder exclusive access, instead of competing with other logging companies, each licensed to take a set volume of wood from the same forest.

Thomson said the proposal is to help deal with the widespread damage left behind by the mountain pine beetle infestation that is causing a decline in timber supply for decades to come.

NDP forests critic Norm Macdonald said the experience with existing area-based tenures, called tree farm licences, is that they have not improved forest stewardship. About 15 per cent of B.C. lumber production is from tree farm licences, and the ministry can’t show evidence that they are better managed, he said.

Many of the existing tree farm licences are on the B.C. coast, where log exports have increased.

Macdonald said B.C.’s big forest companies have lobbied Premier Christy Clark for the change, which effectively privatizes large tracts of Crown forest, and now the forests ministry is being directed to implement the change.

Snetsinger said he worked with volume-based and area-based licences as B.C.’s chief forester, where he was responsible for setting annual allowable cut from 2004 to 2012. They have their supporters and detractors, and Snetsinger said he will hear from them all.

The consultation tour will have stops in Nanaimo, Kamloops, Prince George, Quesnel, Burns Lake, Williams Lake, Smithers, Dawson Creek, Cranbrook and Vancouver. Details will be posted on the consultation website when they are finalized.

Just Posted

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

VIDEO: Olympic medalist teaches swimming in Hope

Brent Hayden fondly remembers local swim meet from his youth

Free parking not in the cards for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chair says board may look at ways to make parking easier, but not free

VIDEO: LEGO fundraiser builds playground purse

Inspired families built LEGO creations, helped Silver Creek build playground

PHOTOS: 100 years and counting for Boston Bar school

Boston Bar Elementary-Secondary School celebrates Centennial with a bang

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

UFV health fair focuses on taking back health

Health sciences program invites Dr. Cathy van Ingen to speak

New Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms in Canada

Measures are intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes

Murder charges upgraded for B.C. man accused of killing wife and daughters

Crown approved new information on Jacob Forman’s file

5 to start your day

Some puppies need naming, a police-involved death in South Surrey and more

Janet Austin announced as B.C.’s new lieutenant governor

Austin has served as YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO since 2003

Ex-French president Sarkozy in custody on Gadhafi claims

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal financing

Hockey pioneer Kwong dies at 94

Vernon’s Larry Kwong was the first player to break NHL colour barrier in 1948

Most Read