Communities target timber license changes

Demands are growing for continued community access to timber

Demands are growing for continued community access to timber.

The Regional District of North Okanagan will write the Ministry of Forests and indicate support for area-based timber tenure for community forests and woodlots. It does not favour area-based tenure for major corporations.

“There will be a huge impact on rural communities because we won’t be able to have community forests,” said director Eugene Foisy.

Currently, about 60 per cent of the logging on B.C.’s Crown land occurs through volume-based licenses which allow companies to harvest a certain volume of timber in an area.

Under the proposed area-based licences, a company would have exclusive access to log an area, eliminating the need to compete with other businesses in the same area.

Foisy fears that a change in license structures could prevent communities such as Cherryville from accessing timber for small entrepreneurs while also putting watersheds at risk.

“It’s pretty scary stuff because it hands a lot of power over to the major licensees,” he said.

There is also a concern that public access to sections of Crown land could be blocked.

“Giving all property rights to a company is not a good idea,” said director Bob Fleming.

Public input sessions about the provincial government’s plans have been held in 10 cities across B.C., and RDNO officials insist that is not sufficient.

“A lot of this is done without consultation with the communities affected,” said director Juliette Cunningham.

— with files from Black Press’ Tom Fletcher