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  • Action group: Proposing new forest legislation

    Ben Barclay
    Forest Reconciliation Act
    Transformative Change Legislation
    “At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rain forest. Now I realize I am fighting for humanity.” – Brazilian rubber tapper and environmentalist Chico Mendes
    Passing Legislation, not Setting Targets
    Clearcutting forests for timber reduces the amount of "biomass" and biodiversity by 70%, which reduces ecosystem services such as moisture management. Primary and healthy forests provide a provincial "sponge" effect, protecting us from the extreme wildfires and floods that destroyed Lytton and Merritt BC. 
    These catastrophic fire and flood events tell us two things. That we are past the "tipping point" of climate change, and that our elected officials are not able to help us make the paradigm shift we need to save ourselves.
    We need to move beyond setting targets and making political promises to achieve them "someday", to passing legislation that will help us achieve the targets.
    BC's current forestry legislation such as the Tenure, Tree Farm Licenses, BC Timber Sales need to be rescinded wholesale. The legislation in Part 1 fits on one page and is "transformative", it would cut through existing policy overnight, and actually solve the ecological problems.
    This legislation would establish "sustainable forestry" as– "forestry that preserves 100% of the biomass, biodiversity, and ecosystem services measured annually in watersheds." The outline in Part 2 of the complex forest policy detailing sustainable harvesting techniques, forest healing strategies, and supply chain management, could then be written and implemented over time.   
    Part 1 - Emergency Statutes
    Statute 1:      Complete ban on any Old Growth harvesting.
    100 year moratorium on old growth harvesting in contiguous watersheds, 50 year moratorium on harvesting smaller connective areas around current cut blocks.
    Year One of the moratoriums is the year that sees passage of Statutes 2,3,4. Restarts conditional on achieving metrics in 2.
    50 year moratorium on any “truck” road building, over the size of small skidder trails linked to existing roads. Especially no roads into new watersheds, especially old growth.
    All supervision must be done by BC Forest Service. Penalties and consequences are twice the retail timber, carbon, water, and biodiversity prices.
    Provision for a limited number of single tree selective harvested trees to be extracted for traditional cultural FN use.
    Statute 2:      No more clearcutting.      All forestry/harvesting must conserve annual biomass, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, (especially water quality and retention, and aquifer levels), in a watershed.
    Enshrine the principle that we don't draw down from the forest’s “principal” only “live off the interest”, and require biomass increases for areas under their traditional baseline like fire areas and previous clearcuts.
    Harvesting of fully stocked areas can only be up to 75% of measured annual growth, in 5 year cycles.
    In depleted areas, harvesting can only be 25% of measured annual growth.
    Limit harvesting after large disturbances to conserve biological legacies and mitigate rapid carbon release from the landscape. All Fire preparation must be done to 100% biomass and biodiversity retention specs. 
    All supervision to be done directly by the BC Forest Service. Penalties and consequences are twice the retail timber, carbon, water, and biodiversity prices.
    Statute 3:      Free, prior and informed consent.      All forestry agreements/contracts must include citizens of local First Nations and communities as signatories, with veto power, and offer first dibs on jobs and economic opportunities in their territories and communities, via a 66% referendum. Statute 4:      Retained provincial ownership.     Instead of selling the wood to corporations at 6 cents a board foot on the hill, ownership would be retained until after the value added products left the mill, at closer to $1.50 a board foot. Statute 4:      Illegal to export raw logs from BC.      Bringing BC in line with international leaders banning raw log exports such as Russia.
    Statute 5:      No new Tenure agreements or TFLs allowed. New harvesting contracts must comply with Statutes 1-4.
    This is what truly sustainable forestry looks like.
    This forest will not support extreme wildfires, or contribute to flooding downstream.

    Note the quality of the timber available, worth three times that of plantation wood. A full age range and species range is maintained in each area. All the biodiversity and ecosystem services are retained, including water management and carbon sequestration.
    Benefits of Passing the Forest Reconciliation Act
    Passing this legislation  would transform BC’s practice of exploitive deforestation, into protective and productive forestry, at the stroke of a pen. Compared to current legislation, this would:
    1. Double our forestry jobs and Provincial forestry income.
    2. Sequester 270 million more tonnes of carbon annually, and preserve more than 50% of the province’s land mass as an effective “wilderness” biodiversity buffer.
    3. Effect reconciliation with First Nations by restoring their rights of land stewardship and cultural connection, and create sustainable local income and jobs.
    4. Preserve the 3% of old growth we have left as an ecological treasury, and repair the 97% of devastated clearcuts back into old growth.
    5.  Significantly decrease the occurrence and severity of extreme wildfires and floods.
    100% Biomass and Ecosystem Services Retention Forest in Wisconsin.
    The Menominee Nation have harvested billions of board feet of lumber since 1890 and have retained all the biomass, biodiversity, and ecosystem services as when they started. They own their own mills, and only sell their wood value added.

    This is how they do it:
    Part 2 - Sustainable Forestry Policy
    Current forest management legislation shall be terminated by five years, to be replaced with forest management (growing and harvesting) policies and procedures that must:
    Terminate or buy out all existing Tenure Agreements and Tree Farm Licence within five years from Act passage.

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