Talks may have slowed down in August, but negotiations between the province and the Haida are continuing.
While vacations can account for some delays, Guujaaw says set-backs can be blamed on the bureaucracy.
“The flow of information hasn’t been as we’d hoped,” he says.
Another issue the Council of the Haida Nation team has run into is getting key data about land areas, as well as, timber and wildlife inventories. These are now held by logging companies instead of the Ministry of Forests and government workers have had to go to industry to get basic information about the forests, says Guujaaw.
“It seems these authorities are slipping away from the province and nobody seems to realize it is happening.”
Guujaaw cites changes, such as the switch from the Forest Practices Code to the Forest and Range Practices Act, which leaves industry to self-regulate, as the key problem. He doesn’t think industry staff are responsible enough to check up on themselves
“Our people have learned not to trust the seal of an RPF (Registered Professional Forester) . . . We have caught them cheating on everything, scaling, environmental Â…”, he said.
As for the suggestion that these are secret negotiations, Guujaaw says nothing on the table is different from what was in the text of the agreement signed in early May.
“Nothing is different except that some areas of the HLUV (Haida Land Use Vision) have been compromised,” he says.
“Everybody is trying to grab as much as they can right now.”
The Forest Guardians haven’t seen so many approvals cross their desks in years, he says.
Guujaaw is also concerned that last year’s average stumpage was very low at only $8 a cubic metre.
He attributes this to heli-logging by the big companies, who pay as little as 25 cents a cubic metre. He is aware that small business licensees did not enjoy the same low stumpage.
Heli-logging compromises the future value of a stand by taking out the best timber, he says.
“A lot of these blocks could be accessed by roads. In fact they run roads across them afterwards to get at other blocks,” he says.
Guujaaw says industry has now agreed to a 90-day period of cooperation to help get things done. This means they will not apply to harvest in areas proposed for protection.
The Government Action Regulation areas negotiated under the agreement were only protected for 30 days after the agreement was signed.
Further pieces of the agreement are still in limbo.
The annual allowable cut can not be finalized until the protected area boundaries are final, nor is the Haida tenure finalized.
Also impacted by the delay is the campaign to halt the bear hunt. The season opened September 1, and Guujaaw admits hunting may occur before there is closure on the issue.
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