The Union Of British Columbia Municipalities recently passed two resolutions at their Annual General Meeting calling on the provincial government to place stronger regulations on private land logging. The resolutions call on the provincial government to amend the Private Managed Forest Land Act to bring it in line with regulations and forestry practices on crown land.
“The Regional District of the Central Kootenay and community groups have worked long and hard on infrastructure in the region,” says Ramona Faust, Regional Director for Electoral Area E. “We have heard a lot of community feedback that it’s not rational that large-scale logging should have two standards of care in the province.”
Unlike forestry on public land, private managed forests companies are not required to manage the land for the long term, so they can strip the land of its forest. There are numerous examples of land being logged, then taken out of the managed forest and sold as real estate or for other types of development. This has been referred to as ‘strip it and flip it’ land management.
“There is no legal requirement for logging practices on private land to be sustainable over time. This allows landowners to remove most or all of the forest cover in a short time period despite major impacts on wildlife, water and communities,” says Eddie Petryshen, Wildsight’s Conservation Coordinator. “This is particularly problematic in areas like the Kootenays and on Vancouver Island where large parcels of forest land are privately held.”
Lax regulation means that private landowners are not prevented from logging practices that can increase flooding risk and impact fish habitat by degrading riparian areas. Riparian areas, the sensitive and easily disturbed transition zones between land and water, are critical in preventing erosion and keeping streams healthy.
“Both communities and the environment end up as the losers,” says Petryshen. “We need transparency so that large-scale private forestry companies are required to share logging plans with local government, community groups and others who might be affected by logging. Seeking community input and support is essential to long-term sustainable forestry on private land.”
“It’s time for the province to listen to community groups, the UBCM and environmental professionals who have long been calling on the province to regulate harvesting on private land. It’s the only way we can make sure forest harvesting is sustainable for our communities and ecosystems into the future.”
By Lindsay Cuff