No more clearcutting. No more raw log exports. Forests, not tree farms.
The single most effective technology for removing carbon from the atmosphere is forests. The single most effective measure in producing cooler micro-climates that better resist climate change is forests. Since 1843 logging has been a major industry in BC and, often during that time, the major industry. Yet today, we find ourselves with a set of interlocking forestry crises in our province:
- A steady forty-year decline in forest sector employment due to automation and declining yields.
- Caribou and other animal populations are at the brink of extinction due to the loss of forest habitat through over-cutting, insufficient protected areas, improper reforestation, and fire.
- A continuing decline in the number of viable spawning streams due to failures to protect riparian areas.
- The export of minimally-processed and raw timber due to the systematic dismantling of appurtenance legislation over the past forty years.
- Increasingly harmful beetle and parasitic infestations as climate change brings the mountain pine beetle and other pests further north and west.
- Increasingly destructive and deadly fire seasons caused by dangerous and ineffective reforestation policies, beetle infestation, and climate change.
- Most public forest land alienated to private interests, often foreign-owned, and inaccessible to local communities for their use.
The BC Ecosocialists understand that we need to rebuild BC forest policy from the ground up. This begins with:
An immediate end to the alienation of public land to the hands of private corporations and the return of public land to full public ownership and administration. A comprehensive land reform program that:
- Transfers a portion of provincial public forest lands to the use and management of Indigenous governments, worker cooperatives, rural interests, municipalities, or regional governments, with priority given to Indigenous governments and cooperatives in their unceded territory.
Ensures continued provincial enforcement of a renewed and amplified BC Forest Practices Code.
A new BC Forest Practices Code produced in consultation with rural communities, First Nations, and forestry workers that:
Prohibits old growth logging, such as at Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew.
Promotes bio-diversity in our forests by ending the practice of using herbicides to deter the growth of broadleaf deciduous trees such as aspen and birch from replanted conifer plantations and encourages the full forest succession cycle to both reduce fire risk and intensity and to replenish lost forest floor nutrients.
Requires organic reforestation practices designed to reinforce non-anthropogenic types of regrowth including multi-generational forest succession, encouraging undergrowth, and other phenomena that cool the forest floor and increase the soil retention capacity of sloped areas. This includes an absolute ban on aerial spraying of herbicides.
Integrating reforestation costs into stumpage fees to prevent companies engaged in logging from dissolving or fleeing the jurisdiction before reforestation costs are covered.
Cessation of current anti-succession reforestation projects and the afforestation of recently clearcut areas with appropriate deciduous succession trees and appropriate undergrowth.
- Prohibits old growth logging, such as at Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew.
Ending the practice of selling BC timber at a loss. Require that all sales of cutting rights produce revenue that exceeds the cost of administering and reforesting the area being cut.
Re-establishing the Forest Land Reserve.
The Forest Land Reserve will include previously forested territory that is not currently forested or part of the working forest, such as abandoned industrial and mining areas.
- Establishing a “jobs on the land” policy that assesses the job losses in the fishing, farming, trapping, and tourism sectors before considering logging projects.
- Establishing a “water on the land” policy that assesses hydrological impact (damage to watersheds) before considering logging projects.
- Establishing a “people on the land” policy that assesses First Nations cultural impact before considering logging projects.
- Re-establishing of appurtenance legislation along the lines of the Tree Farm License system developed by the John Hart government. This includes establishing quotas for milling and other secondary manufacturing jobs for any government or corporation seeking to log public land.
- Creating meaningful endangered species legislation that applies to all public and private land in BC.
- Strictly limiting the clearcutting of private land; with limited allowances provided for housing, government, and Indigenous needs.
- Creating a Habitat Protection Tax credit for private lands where significant habitat is protected to reduce or eliminate property taxes.
- Re-creating the BC Forest Renewal Corporation with a new mandate: to reforest those portions of the Forest Land Reserve not currently forested.
- Ending private reforestation contracts and placing current silviculture under the authority of the Regularization Secretariat.
While India, China, and other major countries undertake major forestation projects to mitigate the climate emergency, BC has followed the lead of Brazil, the US, and Ontario in gutting forestation programs and supporting deforestation. An Ecosocialist BC government will enact a system of incentives and penalties to reforest BC landscapes outside of monetized forest ecosystems, including:
- A per-square metre lawn property surtax on businesses, such as golf courses, and homes that maintain monocrop lawns greater than one acre in size where trees or complex ecosystems could otherwise stand.
- A per-square metre reduction in municipal grants for municipalities and regional districts choosing to maintain lawns on public land that could sustain trees or complex ecosystems with an exemption for playgrounds and community sports facilities.
- Mandating that all municipalities require appropriate technology to reduce energy use and emissions for all new construction, including but not limited to green roofs and solar panels.
- A provincial tree-planting program for BC lands outside the working forest such as provincial highways, BC Housing residential stock, government office complexes, and so forth.
- Tax credits to encourage property owners to re-forest their properties. Property owners experiencing demonstrable financial hardship will be provided with free provincial tree planting services, with the deduction of those costs from subsequent property tax credits.
The BC Ecosocialists recognize that First Nations have a right to deny private corporations the right to log on their territory while still choosing to engage in logging and other forestry practices themselves. Logging on unceded land must be approved by the local Indigenous leadership of the territory in question. This includes both band councils and traditional leadership.