David Zirnhelt, Minister of Forests has stated that he hopes that this Forest Policy Review Process "will guide and stimulate informed public discussion on policy changes needed to promote an environmentally sustainable and economically vital forest economy."
In my submission, nothing short of new vision for how we allocate and use our forests in British Columbia is required to achieve these goals.
On a personal note, I was deeply saddened by some of the messages I heard from industry at the community workshop I attended. While their voices may have sounded like the majority, as they received at least 50 percent of the invitations to the workshop, they did not completely drown out the voices of those of us who would put people and communities, and the environment that sustains us, ahead of satisfying corporate interests.
I am here today, as many others are, to say that my vision for the future of does not involve propping up the unsustainable, volume-driven, timber-based forest industry status quo. I am here to say that it is time for change.
I am here to say that I am fundamentally opposed to the concept of "intensive zoning" as it has been presented in this process. My vision for the future does not involve further regulatory relief for industry when existing protections for non-timber values are already inadequate and the minimal Forest Practices Code protections for biodiversity and species at risk have not yet been fully implemented.
Furthermore, I remind you that even the most secure form of access to land, private ownership, does not guarantee a particular type of management. Full ownership gives the right to destroy biological diversity with impunity as well as the capability to enhance it. And even if security for industry did increase investment, this would clearly be investment in increased fibre production, not in protecting water soils or wildlife habitat. Finally, too often promises of about increased investment in silviculture to increase yields, have been more about justifying cutting more old growth forests today than investing in the future.
Less than 20 companies already control 80 percent of the cut allocated to licensees. Six of these control nearly 50 percent. My vision for the future does not involve further corporate control or greater rights for large forestry corporations.