The forest industry in British Columbia is at a turning point. People from diverse sectors of society are calling for change to the way we allocate and use our forests. Perspectives on the direction for change, however, are varied. Tenure reform could mean many things, including: addressing aboriginal title to forest lands; greater security over the land base for large forest companies; greater community control of forests; diversifying control over the forest; privatisation of public forest land; encouraging investment in more intensive fibre production; and/or creating incentives for more ecologically-oriented forest use.
Existing patterns of forest management are based on the legal structures through which private parties acquire access to and rights over public forest lands in BC. Changing these legal structures requires us to think creatively about how and to whom rights, responsibilities, and obligations to use and manage the forest should be allocated and for how long. Understanding the existing tenure system, the history of its development, and how it has served us provides an important foundation for this discussion.