1 Forests & Land Use | West Coast Environmental Law


Forests & Land Use

Forests & Land Use News

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For too long, decisions affecting our environment and communities have been made in corporate boardrooms far from home resulting in clear-cut logging, mining and oil and gas development that have had devastating effects on land and water.

West Coast Environmental Law seeks to transform the way rights and responsibilities about land use are understood in BC –creating new legal mechanisms for resource tenures (licences) and land use decision-making that are more democratic, sustainable and just.

We work to reform resource and environmental decision-making to incorporate:

  • Ecosystem-based management.
  • Cumulative impact assessment.
  • Climate change impacts mitigation and adaptation.
  • Recognition and respect of Aboriginal Title and Rights.
  • Meaningful public participation.

Together with our allies, we have had an impact. For example:

  • In the wake of our Forest Solutions for Sustainable Communities initiative which advanced citizen-driven solutions to the softwood lumber dispute the provincial government took back approximately 20 per cent of timber rights in BC for redistribution to First Nations, communities and small businesses.
  • West Coast Environmental Law was one of the principal drafters of the Forest Stewardship Council BC Regional Standards for Forest Management. These rigorous standards assure consumers that certified wood they purchase from BC comes from forests managed to stringent ecological and social standards.
  • We were part of the team that negotiated amendments to the Park Act to create a new “Conservancy” designation that provides strong environmental protection while respecting Aboriginal Title and Rights.

Areas of work:

  • First Nations land use planning - Developing land use plans can be a powerful way for a First Nation to communicate their indigenous laws, which embody environmental stewardship, and the wisdom of their Elders in order to protect the lands and resources of their territory and eventually transform mainstream laws as well.
  • Forests and climate change - Handled correctly, new laws and policies that harness market forces to address climate change have the potential to both dramatically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases and help native species of plants and animals survive and adapt.
  • Forest certification - Forest certification harnesses market power to change forest management by promoting products that use wood harvested in an ecologically and socially responsible manner.
  • Tenure reform - Control over the vast majority of British Columbia’s land base is held by timber, mining and other resource companies through various forms of tenure (leases, licences etc.). British Columbia’s laws about resource tenure have been in place since before the term climate change had even been coined – they are antiquated and are a major barrier to conservation and self-determination in BC.

For all West Coast publications related to our Forests and Land Use program, please click here.