Forest Land Reserve urgently needed to counter unsustainable logging rates and massive sell-off of Vancouver Island forestlands: study



    VICTORIA, July 17 /CNW/ - Logging rates and forestland sales by the three
largest private forestland owners on southern Vancouver Island pose grave
risks to globally rare Douglas fir forests and to the region's livability,
says a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
    The study finds that in key cases logging rates and land sales spiked
following provincial government decisions favoring the companies.
    "Last year's controversial decision by then Forests Minister Rich Coleman
to allow Western Forest Products to pull its private forestlands out of its
Tree Farm Licenses is proving disastrous for Island residents," says 
Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the CCPA's BC office, and author
of the study. "Loggers and environmentalists alike opposed the move and with
good reason. Since then, WFP has accelerated its logging of fir forests and
placed thousands of hectares of forestland on the auction block for sale to
real estate developers.
    The CCPA study comes in the wake of a report by BC's Auditor General that
found Coleman's decision was made "without sufficient regard for the public
interest." When private lands are bundled with public lands in Tree Farm
Licenses, all lands are to be managed on a sustainable basis as forestlands.
Because private forestlands within TFLs are designated as "managed
forestlands" they cannot be sold for other purposes and are assessed at low
tax rates.

    Restoring the Public Good on Private Forestlands looks specifically at
logging rates, wood waste levels, log exports and proposed land sales on
private forestlands owned by WFP, TimberWest and Island Timberlands. It finds
that:

    
    -   Logging rates are, in some cases, twice what auditors say can be
        sustained and in key cases jumped dramatically after the province
        allowed companies to pull their private holdings out of tree farm
        licenses.

    -   Hundreds of milling jobs are foregone each year based on estimates of
        log waste on lands owned by the three companies and raw logs that
        they export from BC.
    

    "Such disturbing trends highlight why BC needs a private forestland
reserve, similar to the Agricultural Land Reserve, which would allow
governments to ensure private forestlands are managed in the public interest,"
Parfitt recommends.
    The study also calls for tougher provincial and federal regulations to
make exporting raw logs from private forestlands more difficult, and for
parity between public and private lands as far as forest practices and
environmental regulations are concerned.
    "Parity is essential if we are to adequately protect water and other
resources," Parfitt says. "Had tough rules been in place earlier," Parfitt
adds, "it is questionable whether the Capitol Regional District would have
felt compelled to pay TimberWest nearly $60 million last summer for a portion
of its private forestlands in order to protect a future water source for
Greater Victoria."
    "Instead of managing and regulating important forest resources in the
public interest, we're tossing concerns of sustainability, greenhouse gas
emissions, drinking water quality and urban sprawl out the window - and for
what?" says Parfitt. "For company shareholders that have already benefited
enormously from the favorable tax rates that apply to private forestlands."

    Restoring the Public Good on Private Forestlands may be downloaded at
    www.policyalternatives.ca.





For further information:

For further information: To arrange an interview, call Terra Poirier at
(604) 801-5121 x229

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Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC)

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