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Environmentalists Sigh with Relief as BC Liberals Back Down from “Forest Giveaway Bill” to expand Tree Farm Licences (TFL’s) on Public Lands

Ancient Forest Alliance, March 12, 2013


Environmentalists are rejoicing today after the BC Liberal government backed down from its plans to pass enabling legislation to give greater property rights for major logging companies in British Columbia by expanding Tree Farm Licences (TFL’s). Earlier today Forests Minister committed to delete Section 24, the so-called “Forest Giveaway Bill”, from Bill 8, an omnibus bill of miscellaneous statute amendments, after facing huge pressure from concerned citizens through a campaign spearheaded by Independent MLA Bob Simpson and BC environmental organizations. The deletion will occur tomorrow during the committee stage of Bill 8. See MLA Bob Simpson's media release at: http://www.bobsimpsonmla.ca/independent-mla-calls-for-public-inquiry-into-forest-policy/

“This is good news! The BC Liberals wanted to give a ‘parting gift’ to the major logging companies before they leave office, but in this politically sensitive pre-election period that’s not going to happen now – thanks to thousands of people who spoke up and the great work of Independent MLA Bob Simpson. Simpson was the ‘central clearing house’ for the campaign, providing the main insights for concerned citizens on the government’s proposal, and acting as a battering ram against the proposal from within the legislature. He has clearly demonstrated the power that one determined, independent thinker and politician can be,” stated Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “Time and time again, British Columbians have spoken up en masse to keep public lands in public hands every time a large scale forest privatization scheme like this has reared its ugly head through successive governments.”

The BC Liberals received thousands of emails in recent weeks, including over 3200 messages from Ancient Forest Alliance supporters through its website www.BCForestMovement.com, protesting the proposal since the government introduced Bill 8 on February 20. In addition, over 1200 people have already pre-confirmed their attendance for this Saturday’s rally for sustainable forestry (12:00 noon, Legislative buildings) being planned by the Ancient Forest Alliance in Victoria (see details at: http://www.BCForestMovement.com), which was originally going to include a focus against the “Forest Giveaway Bill” – but now no longer has to.

The TFL expansion bill would have gone through its second reading today, and would have empowered the Minister of Forests to allow major forest companies to convert their “volume-based” logging rights (ie. in cubic metres) into “area-based” licences or Tree Farm Licences in defined areas tens or hundreds of thousands of hectares in size.

Opponents of the plan argued that increasing private property rights for major logging companies on Crown lands would make it harder to protect forests for wildlife, recreation and scenery; make First Nations treaty settlement more difficult, lengthy and expensive; entrench the overcutting already occurring at the expense of the long term viability of local communities; and diminish the land base available for community forestry and other tenures.

“The Forest Giveaway Bill would have taken us backwards. Now we need to move forward, as the status quo is still highly unsustainable for jobs and the environment. We need to get commitments from both the BC Liberal government and the NDP opposition for strong legislation to protect our endangered old-growth forests, ensure sustainable, value-added second-growth forestry, and to end the export of raw logs to foreign mills,” stated Wu.

Background Info

A Tree Farm Licence (TFL) is a defined geographic area that is tens or hundreds of thousands of hectares in size that confers exclusive logging rights to one logging company on Crown (public) lands. TFL’s currently constitute a minor fraction of BC’s land base, perhaps about 10% of the geographic area and about 20% of the cut. Most of the province’s forests are found in Timber Supply Areas (TSA’s) where no specific geographic area is granted to companies for exclusive logging rights – instead they are given a volume of wood (in cubic meters) through a Forest Licence (FL) that they are allowed to cut within each massive TSA each year in cutblocks planned by the Forest Service. See a map at: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/ftp/HTH/external/!publish/web/timber-tenures/tfl-regions-tsas-districts-map-350-dpi-sep-13-2012.pdf

See the Ancient Forest Alliance’s original media release on the BC Liberal government’s TFL expansion proposal at: See the AFA’s original media release at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=564


The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on BC’s politicians to commit to:

- A provincial Old-Growth Strategy that will protect the province’s endangered old-growth forests.
- Ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, which now constitute most of BC’s productive forest lands.
- End the export of raw logs to foreign mills.
- Support the retooling of coastal old-growth mills and the development of value-added wood processing facilities to handle second-growth logs.

BC’s old-growth forests are vital to support endangered species, tourism, the climate, clean water, wild salmon, and many First Nations cultures. On Vancouver Island, satellite photos show that about 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have already been logged, including 90% of the valley-bottom ancient forests where the largest trees grow and most biodiversity resides. Only about 10% of Vancouver Island’s original, productive old-growth forests are protected in parks and Old-Growth Management Areas (OGMA’s). See: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php

So far the BC Liberal government has been defending continued, large-scale old-growth logging and raw log exports in the province, often citing highly misleading statistics to convey the false message that old-growth forests are not endangered.

The NDP opposition has so far stayed silent on a previous commitment by leader Adrian Dix in 2011 during his leadership bid that he would, “Develop a long term strategy for old growth forests in the Province, including protection of specific areas that are facing immediate logging plans” if elected. See:
http://conservationvoters.ca/past-endorsements/leadership-race-2011/ndp-candidates/adrian-dix

See spectacular old-growth forest photos at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/galleries.php
and videos at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/videos.php

  


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