By Heidi Bevington-The Council of the Haida Nation is “reviewing its options,” said president Guujaaw, following the provincial government’s decision to allow Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd. to remove 17,400 hecatres of private land from TFL 39.
“The government in power lost favour with the logging companies. They are trying to win it back,” said Guujaaw. The deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and at the same time the government recently reduced the stumpage rates down to a fraction of what they were, he said.
Private land was integrated into the tree farm licenses and the annual allowable cut in the 1960s, said Guujaaw, but “from the beginning the whole system was corrupt.”
The bulk of the licenses were issued to friends of the government of the day, and each time the logging industry reached its annual allowable cut, the formula would be changed to go to a higher level of harvest, he said.
The province’s decision flies in the face of recent court decisions which require consultation and accommodation with First Nations, he said.
“To go back to our TFL case, the courts had compelled industry and the province to consult and accommodate at every stage and in this case nothing,” said Guujaaw. No First Nations or communities along the coast were consulted, he said.
The Forest Practices Code doesn’t apply to private land, and the Ministry of Forests will no longer be involved in its management, said acting operations manager Alan Shaw at the local Ministry of Forests office. The Agricultural Land Reserve will now manage the private forests under the Private Managed Forest Act.
The province has put conditions on the approval. Weyerhaeuser must not to export raw logs from its private holdings for 18 months, allowing BC mills time to improve their competitive edge. The company must also agree to work with other agencies like Fisheries to create watershed management plans for key community watersheds. In addition, the company must maintain sustainable management certification and continue to allow road access for the public, First Nations and industry.
The Minister of Forests approved similar requests for TimberWest, Rice Properties, Alcan and Western Forest Products as well as additional Weyerhaeuser land on Vancouver Island.
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