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The Land & Resource Management Plan
Process is Limited
- we cannot participate in the process -
by Ralph Nelson
The Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) is touted as being grassroots-local and the answer to controversy. It is neither.
I have listened, and asked: "grass-roots" acquaintances disagree. They tell me the following represents their thoughts well enough.
The LRMP is a government construct, designed to end controversy on the grounds that it is a local response to local concerns over the use of the land/environment. But local concerns and responses get considerably watered down by non-local input: Big Business (and we all know just how big) and grinding bureaucracies (most of us have been ground) have not only the most representation, but are paid to participate, carry the weight of might, and limit the subjects and scope of potential changes to the status quo. It goes without saying that the status quo needs changing - that is the problem - and the LRMP process is the government answer to the unrest. Apparently all would agree there. Politicians gauge the appropriateness of their actions by the number and tone of complaints heard. The more complaints from each extreme the better, the assumption being that they are then toeing the middle line. The middle mediocre being the place they apparently want to be seen.
The LRMP process is rooted, now, in some history. That is unfortunate, if it was a new process, and the government was still bumbling along unconcernedly, we might have a chance of getting a local plan without too many restrictions. But not now. The restrictions have been imposed, and they are why we cannot participate.
When do you count an LRMP as started? I don't know; but there are approximately 17 processes underway in the province, and there is serious dissent; many organizations are refusing to participate, on various grounds.
- Environmental organizations have publicly stated they will not participate in the Central Coast LRMP. Activism continues.
- The clearcutting the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan is proposing has resulted in more controversy than ever. It appears that the process, chaired by the Ministry of Forests, has proposed a new set of acronyms and an elimination of the former Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE) process recommendation. They recommended 18% protected and 15% low intensity use. The new proposal results in 13% protected and 6.4% low intensity logging, and 46% is set aside as a high intensity area - for Code relaxed logging - allowing huge clearcuts and old-growth liquidation, if second growth is left for 250 years. There is a vast shortfall of trees to cut, and the plan addresses this by allowing more cutting, immediately, and worries about tomorrow some other time. This is obviously controversial and unacceptable for many.
There are many and varied problems with LRMP processes. Our specific reasons for non-participation:
- · Participation would compromise our personal and collective integrity - it would render us liars and hypocrites. Our position clearly does not fit within the framework of the LRMP process - not even close.
- The Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) is not up for discussion; it may change to reflect the repercussions of the decisions of the table, but that could conceivably be an increase. There will be no direct discussion about the AAC, which is set by the Chief Forester, and the AAC will not change till time comes for the next review - maybe 5 years. Islands Community Stability Initiative (ICSI) public meetings heard a resounding call for a reduction in the cut to a sustainable level. The AAC is over twice the government acknowledged sustainable level. When the government acknowledges a figure like that we are really scared - and it is likely to be a conservative estimate.
Really, that is enough reason not to continue, but there are numerous other reasons that should be addressed, and aren't.
- Haida title should be given primary, and prior, consideration and the prospect of Haida non-participation should be sufficient reason to invalidate the process.
- TFL tenures are not up for discussion. Though good argument can be made for the non-fulfilment of TFL holders obligations since their inception, and especially lately, the lands/trees of TFL's will remain alienated by government edict.
The LRMP is not the vehicle for change.
- Government has stated that there will be no increase in protected areas on the Islands, specifically, because they say we have more than "our" share set aside in our parks - Naikoon and Gwaii Haanas. The LRMP process coordinator, Dan Adamson, says this is not the case.
There is sufficiently little large old growth valley bottom forest left, and there is almost none of this forest in the parks. A multitude of species and individuals live in large area, large tree forests - many birds and mammals need to range between valleys and occupy places between, and/or afar, some of the year.
Biological diversity is very much compromised already, and will be further reduced by the inaccessibility and small size of isolated pockets of remaining habitat. And old growth is not forecast to return: there are no plans to set aside large forest areas to re-grow in perpetuity.
- Those participating at the LRMP tables excluding members of big business and bureaucracy, do not get paid to be there. It isn't so bad to not be paid for everything; but it is a large sacrifice the community asks of those who sit at the table, to not get paid for anything. And worse, these good citizens end up facing the paid, who represent the status quo, and aren't local, and have access to huge resources of expertise and influence. Our neighbours at the table get poorer, and face local criticism for what happens.
- Facilitator and chair positions for the LRMP process, both of which lead the direction for the discussion, are government provided; they may be good and they may not. It has been a contentious issue in other plans. Does the process coordinator here have integrity, yes, I think so, but not the system he is attempting to better.
If we let ourselves be led by what the powers want us to consider to be achievable, then we won't change very much. Government and industry want the status quo with as few as possible disruptions, and less responsibilities: they do not have our best interests in mind. Our governments are essentially foreign, though they are British Columbian and Canadian, and industry is multinational.
Governments and big business are not to be trusted, most of us have our personal stories in this regard: why do we, should we, trust them yet again - don't let's be silly.
- Data for scientific rationales do not exist in sufficient quality and quantity to make an informed scientific decision, yet views that do not rely on specialist's opinions are basically disallowed - common sense has no place. But what else is there? So decisions are often made with inadequate, or poor, data by those with no appreciation of the big picture, and no local interest.
- Continued frequent infractions of the Forest Practices Code prove company non-compliance, and government inability/unwillingness to cope with enforcement.
And these things happen now, and are the basic presumptions for the future process of talk and log - talk and log being presumed better than log and talk.
- We are not presupposing that any logging that takes place as a result of an LRMP process will be done in a good manner: rather we are offered a watered-down Forest Practices Code, which has many flaws. The Clayoquot Scientific Panel, for instance, came up with many hard come-by recommendations to the standard of best in the world. Why not use that standard here, now?
Surely a continual revision of the ideal of best, should be the target for any logging anywhere.
Participation would compromise our personal and collective integrity - it would render us liars and hypocrites. Our position clearly does not fit within the framework of the LRMP process.
Indubitably, change is possible through an LRMP process, but is it significant? And is it good change, given likely compromises? And then, why should we compromise with far away governments and soulless industry? We don't think the minimal change possible is the most that can be accomplished for the 2-3 year projected effort of participating in an LRMP.
It is not the only process in town, however. There is a good, positive alternative. Let us local peoples, of all cultural backgrounds, draw up a plan of our own - without the constraints of what is considered politically expedient for governments - and make it work. We need to be especially clear about what we want, lest we end up compromised, as we have been at times, between ICSI and the government, for example (there is no attempt here to denigrate the vast work associated with ICSI's accomplishments on our behalf us Islanders).
These reasons are being offered for everyone's consideration, and specifically to the LRMP process - for the table.
* Worked Over Watershed by S. Davies
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