Slow going for community forests

It looks like the positive signals the Ministry of Forests was sending during the summer were just spin after all. This is disheartening news for some communities, especially for Shawnigan Lake where a determined group of hundreds of local people are seeking a community forest licence.

The group, Shawnigan Lake Watershed Watch (SLWW), wants to improve economic and environmental conditions for the whole commuity, but the Ministry of Forests is continuing blithely to pursue the status quo, in which an ever smaller number of people benefit from increasing environmental devastation.

As we wrote in a previous bulletin, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Forests was suggesting that this government is going to pursue

Jack Dryburgh from MoF called Mary Desmond early in November (Cindy Stern’s replacement–South Island District Forest Manager) to set up a meeting. Nothing had been done since their discussion with Deputy Minister

Emma Neill, who adminstrates the woodlot. The meeting turned out to be an exercies in PR. They said all the land in Shawnigan had been pre-allocated. SLWW knows this is not true, that it’s an artificial obstacle from. The only valid obstacle is outstanding treaty land settlements. The rest is a question of personal preferential decisions.

Emma Neill rubbed salt in the wound by mentioning she’s looking at 3 forest areas (300-500 acres) in the area for possible expansion of existing 2 woodlot licences. Mary asked: would only one of the areas be added? No, all three.

Mary pointd out it would be better for the community if several hundred households benefited, not just one or two.

Dreyburg said the rules for community forests are changing in January, and suggested they apply for a community woodlot licence. But that would only allow them to get volume that’s not pre-allocated — the scraps from the table. Dreyburg said they could supplement to bring up to required size by leasing adjoining private lands from TimberWest or Weyerhaeuser.

Mary pointed out all the good stands within easy to moderate access are long gone, and the companies would charge exorbitant rates for anything else. The community would be reduced to heli-logging.

This was the first news from MoF since an email from Doug Konkin.

Next step:

“There is land here. There are two cutblocks at the south end of Shawnigan Lake. They were being eyed by LWBC for two development projects. Those are on the back burner now.”

A community meeting on growth and development issues drew 400-500 people. They asked Area Director Rick Spencer (who wants to be the next Liberal MLA for Malahat-Juan de Fuca replacing Brian Kerr, a one-term Campbell yes-man.)and LWBC Director of Strategic Initiatives Mark Hallam about the development on Mount Baldy, and about these projects near the lake.

Community forests are getting a double standard.

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