The provincial government issued a discussion paper in April 2014 which proposed giving a small group of hand-picked companies virtually exclusive harvesting rights over vast areas of the interior in mountain pine beetle impacted areas. If implemented, some companies who already have the right to harvest a certain volume of wood (which by volume are disproportionately large integrated forest products companies) would be invited to apply for licences that give the holder management control and near-exclusive harvesting rights over a specific area of land. The provincial government has proposed giving these companies new or expanded tree farm licences, which, unlike newer forms of area-based tenure (i.e., community forest agreements, First Nations woodland licences), are exclusively timber focused and designed for corporate rather than local control of forest lands.
In this sense, the provincial proposal is not really about “area-based tenure” per se but about how much control large-scale logging interests should have over our forests. It failed to ask the big questions: Who should be managing BC’s forests and for what purpose? How can we address decades of unsustainable overcutting? Instead, the provincial discussion paper looks at further entrenching corporate control. West Coast Environmental Law’s submissions address why this is a bad idea for British Columbians and our environment.