Control over the vast majority of British Columbia’s land base is allocated to a small group of large forestry companies through licenses or “timber tenures.” The tenure system is a major barrier to conservation and community self-determination in BC. Under the prevailing system, it is very difficult for new businesses - particularly small, locally based businesses - to become involved in processing raw logs into wood products because they cannot obtain access to wood supply. Additionally, many of BC’s policies lie at the root of Canada’s decades-old softwood lumber dispute with the United States.
West Coast Environmental Law believes that any long-term solution lies with recognition and respect for Aboriginal Title and Rights, a significant tenure take-back from the major companies, the creation of regional log yards as a foundation for market-based stumpage, and the establishment, implementation and enforcement of strong environmental laws. With those changes, the annual cut will be reduced and more wood will end up in high value manufacturing - creating jobs here in BC -instead of being shipped across the border with minimal processing.
That’s why we were a founding member of the BC Coalition for Sustainable Forest Solutions, a coalition of over 50 major labour, environmental, social justice and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations. Working with the Coalition, and based on the outcomes of a series of “forest solutions forums” held in communities around the province, West Coast Environmental Law produced a draft private members bill embodying a comprehensive citizen’s forestry reform platform.
For more information on West Coast Environmental Law’s work on tenure and the softwood lumber dispute visit http://www.forestsolutions.ca/