Tenure re-allocation: the coming day of reckoning
The reality of tenure reallocation will hit logging companies, First Nations and communities in the next few weeks.
Dogwood Initiative has learned that the BC government will send letters to each tenure-holding company indicating the volume of wood to be taken back from each licence. These letters will go out by month’s end.
Given closed-door negotiations with companies and the government’s consistently pro-corporate leanings, many questions remain about the re-allocations:
- Will certain companies get sweetheart deals and only lose volume in their marginal tenures?
- How many communities and First Nations will be short-changed, left without any volume available nearby?
- Were the influential companies like Canfor and Interfor able to limit their takebacks to the guts and feathers of their tenures?
How were the reallocation volumes determined? The Liberal government rejected the simplest and most equitable method – proportionally reducing the volume of each licence. Instead, they chose to negotiate individual deals with each tenure holder.
Given the inevitable arbitrariness of this approach, it’s hard to believe bias didn’t enter the reallocation process. The method raises significant risks that the reallocation will be biased to favor specific companies, specific contractors, some First Nations and some communities. Everyone else could be left out, with no takeback freeing up wood near them.
Sources high up in the Ministry of Forests insist that the re-allocation was done fairly, free from political influence. However, the secrecy and exclusivity of the process indicates otherwise.
Dogwood Initiative has learned that takebacks from Forest Licences (FL). were prioritized over take backs from Tree Farm Licences (TFLs). Volumes were taken back from TFLs only if the wood in FL was not of comparable quality.
Of course, on the coast most of the best wood is locked up in TFLs, so the proportion taken from TFLs versus FLs will provide a strong indication of whether the takeback was done equitably.
An indication of the role politics played in the re-allocation will be apparent in the volume taken from Canfor’s TFL 37. Canfor, headed by Campbell’s good-buddy Dave Emerson, has been rumoured to have indicated that volume would be taken from their highly profitable northern Vancouver Island TFL “Cover their dead body.”
For what has been characterized as “the most significant forest policy changes in 50 years,” the process also left a lot to be desired.
As with all key resource policies, the Liberals only consulted with large logging corporations in deciding in deciding on the take backs. Communities, First Nations, environmentalists all were left out of the discussions.
Supposedly, the Ministry has used the reallocation to free up wood for those First Nations that have signed Interim Forestry Agreements and to ensure its auction system is representative enough to inform its so-called new market pricing stumpage system.
Some communities and First Nations willl benefit, others will lose. Ultimately, the numbers will indicate which category you are in.
The flip side of the secret takeback negotiations are the compensation discussions. Stay tuned here tomorrow for an update on the status of those discussions.