Today there are three Tree Farm Licenses, a Timber Supply Area containing
four Forest Licenses, the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program, and
a number of smaller tenure units in various locations. Over 90 percent of
the commercial forest is allocated within Tree Farm and Timber Licenses.
There is a great deal of public concern and community dialogue over the tenure system. The major licensees have no incentive to consider or provide for the well-being of the communities. The tenure system is recognized as a formidable obstacle to establishing a sustainable forest economy on the Islands.
Some suggestions from the public regarding tenure reform have included:
- amalgamation of tenures into broader regional management units, or Community Forests.
- competitive bidding on all timber.
- opportunities for local manufacturing.
- smaller volume timber sales.
The timber presently available to small local business interests is about
nine percent of the total annual cut. In 1995, 136,419 cubic metres were
sold by competitive bid (MoF).
Small business interests state that, compared to the major licensees, they pay more per unit for use of the same forest resource, and provide more employment and economic benefits to the Island Community, government coffers and the provincial economy.
Local competitive log markets create more jobs, as experienced in the Vernon Forest District. And they remedy the complaints of American softwood producers about subsidies in the Canadian forest industry, a problem which has repeatedly led to massive government interventions in the market.
The QCI Independent Forestry Association has called for tenure reform.
Stumpage rates and subsidy factors are not equitable between sectors.
There is a common perception that economic advantages are granted to the
major licensees, but the information is convoluted and confusing and needs
examination. This could be
done in the public review process described in Section 11 below.
'Salvage' operations are paying stumpage to the province on wood that the companies have already declared and paid for as waste.
Out of the annual harvest of about two million cubic metres, less than
four percent is processed in local mills (MoF).
More economic and employment benefits need to be created out of less wood. Adding value to timber through processing and manufacturing creates jobs.
Economic benefits can clearly be derived from the use of timber resources not now utilized (alder, waste, etc), but administrative systems present substantial obstacles to doing so.
There are great opportunities for on-island processing. Work needs to be done to identify what kinds of processing and manufacturing are appropriate, as well as examining infrastructure needs, capital requirements, marketing strategies and joint venture options.
Area-based allocations are preferable to a commitment of fiber volume.
Through area-based community management, local stewardship can evolve and
communities can benefit from the forest.
The volume derived from areas allocated to community tenures must be sustainable, and not added on to the existing over-commitment.
The forests are publicly owned and the tenure system must provide community access, control and benefits. We support:
- the general principles of the Strathinnes Report (1992) recommendations regarding the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program.
- the allocation of forest land to create Community Forests.
- the expansion of small business and local manufacturing opportunities.
- guaranteed on-Island access to wood, provided by the establishment of local log marketing opportunities, that include a certain portion of all wood harvested on the Islands.
- setting targets for increasing the percentage of wood to be processed on-Island, with a plan to ensure success which is adopted by all interests, including TFLs and TSA Forest Licenses.
- the inclusion of a commitment to community stability (definable and measurable) in the Management and Working Plans of all tenure holders.
- an annual performance audit of licensees, to hold them accountable to their license application commitments, including employment targets.
The broader issues of tenure reform on the Islands would be addressed by a public review process, described in Section 11 below.