This week the Private Forest Landowners’ Association (PFLA) posted another blog on Cortes Island titled, “Province’s Role in Cortes Island Logging Dispute”. This blog ended with these words, “PFLA is committed to raising awareness about private forest management and we welcome your questions and comments”:
Well, on December 18, 2012, I responded with a comment, albeit unwelcome. The PFLA censored it.
Since I had written the comment for the benefit of both the PFLA and residents of Cortes Island, I thought readers of Tideline might be interested in it sooner rather than later. This is what I wrote:
“When residents and visitors, who know the islands well, read, 'this is a results-oriented regulatory approach' their instinct tells them something doesn’t sit well here, and their hackles rise.
Residents are surrounded, upstream and downstream, from estuaries to headwaters, with the cumulative 'results' of private forestland mismanagement over many decades.
Today, residents still have to live with the cumulative consequences of these 'results' of poor forest practices — albeit chiefly by two of the largest landowners among the PFLA membership — whether it be ruined sturgeon and salmon fisheries, flooding, soil erosion, appalling visual views, etc.
Today forest practices may have improved on a cutblock-by-cutblock scale – some would dispute this claim - but little attention appears to be given to the cumulative impacts of logging (past and present) on forest values at the landscape scale of resolution — something the Forest Practices Board has repeatedly pointed out about the management of public forests.”
The PFLA blog went on to say this about regulation: “The Private Managed Forest Land Council (PMFLC) is the regulatory agency responsible for the Managed Forest Program”. So I went to the PMFLC web site with a view to ascertaining what confidence the public might place in this regulatory agency.
I read this:
“The council consists of five members:
• two members appointed by the provincial government
• two members elected by private Managed Forest landowners
• a chair who is jointly appointed by the other four council members”
My personal assessment of the council’s membership structure is that it inspires little confidence as an independent third-party regulatory agency. And I very much doubt that this structure provides the general public with any assurance that private forest lands are being monitored by anyone other than the fox overseeing the coup.
In its letter of December 20, 2012, to the Campbell River Mirror, the Association of BC Forest Professionals writes, “Forest professionals do provide the landowner (private or Crown) with the necessary science-based understanding and forest land planning to transact their goals within the legal framework, to monitor and report results, and recommend further treatments”.
The key point here, as with third-party certification of sustainable forest management, is that forest management and its regulation are only as good as the laws of the land (i.e., "the legal framework").
To illustrate this point take a look at the cover photo on my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ABritneff
It is a December 2005 satellite image from Google Earth taken north of Prince George and south of Carp Lake Provincial Park. Imagine what this landscape looks like today after the mountain pine beetle finished killing the pine forests! After forest deregulation since 2002, it is likely that the Forest Practices Board the people's forest watchdog
would find that every single clear-cut in this fragmented landscape would be in accordance with British Columbia's present forest laws and regulations. Unbelievable!