By reducing the cut and recycling the wealth, it is more than possible to
maintain, perhaps even increase, jobs in the local forest economy. That's
good news for Haida Gwaii residents. It's also good news for the province.
By logging less and capturing more money from each tree, the province will
continue to collect significant stumpage revenues (see
sidebar). And by encouraging more on-Island milling, Haida Gwaii will
become a vital link in the "value-added" chain, supplying off-Island
mills with wood for further processing into finished products.
Consider also that mechanisms are being put in place to increase forestry
investments on Haida Gwaii through Forest Renewal BC. Forest Renewal is
a new Crown corporation. It disburses money collected through increased
stumpage charges under the Forest Renewal Act (1994). Those increased stumpage
charges mean that logging companies on BC's coast pay about $12 a cubic
metre more in stumpage payments than they did prior to Forest Renewal. About
two thirds of that money ends up at FRBC where it is then redistributed
into a host of forestry-related ventures including: watershed restoration;
forest inventories; worker training and education; intensive silviculture;
value-added enterprises; and community development.
Haida Gwaii residents understand that about $16 million a year is collected
for FRBC from their forests. A District Advisory Committee has been formed
to "work with local people and Island communities." Given local
demands for a restructured forest tenure system and diversified forest economy,
FRBC provides a critical element in helping Islanders realize their dreams.
Opportunities abound to make wise local investments with Forest Renewal
funds. Already, many Haida have been trained to do watershed assessments
and develop watershed restoration plans for some of the areas damaged by
logging practices on the Islands.
Soon, a host of other projects will be identified for potential Forest Renewal
funding - projects that will provide valuable training and work opportunities
in intensive silviculture and other forestry-related activities. All this
will be made possible because money collected from logging Haida Gwaii will
be returned to Haida Gwaii, where local residents advise FRBC about how
that money is spent.
Local control over local resources. That's what many Islanders see as the
best hope for Haida Gwaii. As Jim Abbot says, what Islanders want is a "radically
restructured forest economy" that is "managed by Island people
for Island people. Local control of the timber resource would result in
training and investment in our communities, and hundreds of manufacturing
jobs on the Islands."
The goal, quite simply, is self reliance, dignity and opportunities for
future generations, both on and off the Islands.