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  • Proposed Forest Reconciliation Act

    Ben Barclay

    Forest Reconciliation Act

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”—Buckminster Fuller

    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 40 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.

    Significantly decrease the occurrence and severity of wildfires.

    Proven in an accompanying cost/benefit analysis compared to existing legislation, these goals should be monitored and refined over the next few centuries by a comprehensive science project.

    The legislation will re-define the relationships between forest ecosystems, communities, governments, First Nations, and corporations, by balancing their rights, and clarifying their responsibilities. It will:

    • Supersede all existing legislation, require a plebiscite result of 66% to change.

    • Set out significant penalties and consequences, and be systemically resilient, to ensure compliance and results.

    Part 1 contains five independent “emergency statutes” to achieve the goals.

    Part 2 forms the core of truly sustainable forest policy legislation detailing proper harvesting techniques, forest healing strategies, and supply chain management.


    Precursor Legislation

    To address the limitations most democratic jurisdictions face in passing transformative change legislation, these two pieces of “precursor legislation” would help create conditions for passing the Act:

    • Binding plebiscite legislation where voters could get bills presented to the public for direct voting, by simply raising a number of signatures, without waiting on cabinet approval.

    • Proportional representation, which would limit potential excesses of power such as the RCMP civil rights abuses at Fairy Creek, and lack of follow through on the Old Growth recommendations, while enabling innovative legislation without needing plebiscites.


    Part 1 - Emergency Statutes

    1. Statute 1: Complete ban on any Old Growth harvesting.

      1. 100 year moratorium on old growth harvesting in contiguous watersheds, 50 year moratorium on harvesting smaller connective areas around current cut blocks.

        1. Year One of the moratoriums is the year that sees passage of Statutes 2,3,4. Restarts conditional on achieving metrics in 2.

      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.

      3. All supervision must be done by BC Forest Service. Penalties and consequences are twice the retail timber, carbon, water, and biodiversity prices.

      4. Provision for a limited number of single tree selective harvested trees to be extracted for traditional cultural FN use.

    2. Statute 2: No more clearcutting. All forestry/harvesting must conserve annual biomass, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, (especially water quality and aquifer levels), in a watershed.

      1. 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.

        1. Harvesting of fully stocked areas can only be up to 75% of measured annual growth, in 5 year cycles.

        2. In depleted areas, harvesting can only be 20%-40% of measured annual growth.

      2. Limit harvesting after large disturbances to conserve biological legacies and mitigate rapid carbon release from the landscape.

      3. All supervision to be done directly by the BC Forest Service. Penalties and consequences are twice the retail timber, carbon, water, and biodiversity prices.

    3. Statute 3: 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.

    4. Statute 4: Illegal to export raw logs from BC. Bringing BC in line with international leaders banning raw log exports such as Russia.

    5. Statute 5: No new Tenure agreements or TFLs allowed. New harvesting contracts must comply with Statutes 1-4.


    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:

    1. Terminate or buy out all existing Tenure Agreements and Tree Farm Licence within five years from Act passage.

    2. Ensure that all policies and procedures must be:

      1. Directly supervised by the Province, no outsourcing.

      1. Written by the province, with scientists, with no corporate interference, based on scientific knowledge and evidence, including Indigenous traditional science.

    1. Prioritize ecosystem benefits (services), including:

      1. Topsoil creation, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, water retention.

      2. Connectivity in landscapes to promote gene flow, dispersal and migration.

    2. Balance recreation, tourism, timber and wilderness, human and non-human uses to:

      1. encourage greater understanding and reconnection of people with forests

      2. respect the rights of all life, fungi, plants and animals, that makes up forest ecosystems.

        1. Recognize salmon as forest animals.

        2. Criminalize the killing of apex predators including wolves.

        3. Protect habitat for species like deep snow caribou, and salmon.

    3. Map, measure and manage forests in scalable nested watersheds, and in islands. Within those watersheds and islands:

      1. Ensure that full sized and full cycle trees are well distributed spatially in scalable 100 sq. m and 1,000 sq. m plots.

      2. Canopy cover is complete.

    4. Maximize income for the Province and Indigenous peoples, and

      1. Require ownership of the trees to be retained by the Province at least until they leave the sawmill, or secondary processing, such as flooring.

      2. Require marketing and product innovation to be driven by utilising species that are natural to the ecosystem. Diverse product lines will lead to forest diversity.

      3. Monetize carbon, water, and biodiversity costs/benefits, and include in GDP,

        1. Fully report all carbon emissions and capture.

      4. Be publicly and transparently audited, with independent oversight, including FSC.

    1. Return 25% of profits to healing the damage of previous bad management, and infrastructure.

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