VICTORIA - A comprehensive public engagement process on converting some volume-based forest licences to new or expanded area-based tree farm licences will take place over the next two months, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced today.
People are invited to participate in a public discussion on the expansion of area-based forest management until noon May 30, 2014, at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/foresttenures
This site has reference material, questions and answers, a discussion paper and an interactive blog where a conversation will occur online.
To keep the engagement open and neutral, an independent facilitator has been hired. The public engagement process will be led by veteran professional forester Jim Snetsinger, who will compile the feedback and provide a report to government by the end of June. Snetsinger, a former provincial chief forester, will also travel to at least 10 different B.C. communities to meet with stakeholders, First Nations, local governments and members of the public who express interest in contributing to the discussion.
The meetings will focus on the potential benefits that proponents seeking conversions may be able to provide, the criteria for evaluating applications, and the process for implementing conversions.
Conversions are not being considered on a provincewide basis. They are one “tool in the toolbox” that may help with mid-term timber supply issues in parts of the Interior that have been impacted by the mountain pine beetle.
The results of the engagement process will inform how government proceeds and whether legislative changes will be needed as a result of the feedback.
Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson:
“We’re only interested in pursuing conversions in areas where there is support - and we’re proposing that any requests for conversion to be considered on a case-by-case basis. I look forward to the public feedback on the process we’re contemplating.”
Consultation leader Jim Snetsinger:
“Given the pressures facing the timber supply in B.C.’s Interior and the impact on communities and forest licensees, it’s important to hear from as many stakeholders and members of the public as possible before considering changes that would increase area-based forest tenures.”
To read the discussion paper, learn more about the consultation process, or to offer your perspective, go to: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/foresttenures/
- A forest tenure, or licence, is an agreement between the provincial government and a person, company or other legal entity that provides logging rights on Crown forest land.
- Multiple volume-based forest licensees may operate in the same timber supply area; whereas an area-based forest licensees has virtually exclusive logging rights in a defined area.
- All forest tenure holders are required to make payments to the province for the Crown timber harvested under that licence. These “stumpage” payments are calculated on volume of timber harvested by the tenure holder.
- Forest tenure holders also have specific obligations to care for the land base for which harvesting rights are provided.
- British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in Canada that manages the majority of forest land through volume-based tenures. In other provinces, management is mainly through area-based tenures.
- In 2013, more than 58,200 people were directly employed in forestry. In 2014/15, it’s estimated that government will collect $785 million in direct forest revenue.
- The majority of forest sector jobs are in rural communities across the province, and in some regions the economic contribution of forestry exceeds 40%.
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Terms of reference - area based forest tenure consultation
An all-party Special Committee on Timber Supply was appointed in May 2012, by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia to make recommendations to address the loss of mid-term timber supply in the central Interior. In its report “Growing Fibre, Growing Value”, published in August 2012, the committee advised that, during consultation, interest was expressed in expanding the amount of area-based forest tenures in the province, and the committee recommended the concept of converting existing volume-based tenures to area-based tenures be pursued.
Therefore, government is looking at ways to increase the diversity of area-based tenures, and specifically at the possibility of converting volume-based tenures (tenure holder operates with other tenure holders in a broader geographic area - with defined volume of timber to be harvested) to area-based tenures (tenure holder has exclusive timber harvesting rights for a defined volume in a defined geographic area). Government has committed to engaging in a broad public consultation prior to moving forward with possible policy changes.
To ensure an open and transparent public consultation process, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has appointed Jim Snetsinger to facilitate the public consultation process.
His role will be to reach out to stakeholders and the public to gather their feedback, manage the conversation within the scope of the objectives described below, and provide a report with recommendations to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations within the timeframe specified within these terms of reference.
Jim Snetsinger will receive secretarial support from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The scope of the public consultation will focus on how best to achieve government’s objectives within any conversion process on volume-based to area-based tenures, and specifically on the following:
- the social, economic and environmental benefits that should be sought from proponents through conversions, and
- the criteria for evaluating applications and the process for implementing conversions, including specific application requirements and target locations for conversion opportunities.
Government needs to understand these issues so that the implementation of area-based tenures can be done in ways that respect the interests of all concerned parties. It is expected that the criteria used to consider area-based tenures will be finalized in regulation.
It will also be the role of Jim Snetsinger to facilitate a public consultation process that is based on factual information, respect and equal opportunity to provide input.
The consultation process will embrace the following principles:
- Dialogue will be respectful of the interests of all participants;
- The input under consideration in generating recommendations should be transparent and available publicly; and
- The process should aim to build understanding among all participants
Consistent with the Terms of Reference for the all-party Special Committee, the recommendations from this public consultation should have due regard for the following:
- Maintaining high environmental standards and protection of critical habitat for species and key environmental values;
- Maintaining a competitive forest industry; and
- The existence of First Nations rights and claims of title.
Jim Snetsinger will be expected to:
- Facilitate meetings in key communities, including meeting with representatives of local governments and First Nations, forest industry, environmental groups and other interested stakeholders;
- Solicit input via a publicly accessible web-site and review written submissions; and
- Prepare a report, with recommendations, based on the results of the public consultation process including an evaluation and summary of input received through various sources. The report should clearly describe how public input affected the proposed recommendations.
The consultation period will end May 31, 2014. A final report to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will be due June 30, 2014.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations