Golden’s Forest March aims to change current forestry management

On the morning of Saturday, April 6, 2019, people in Golden will join those from across the province to march in support of changing current forest management rules.

Marches are also being held in Peachland, Port Alberni, Cowichan, Nanaimo, Vernon, Kelowna, Kimberley, Johnsons Landing, Salt Spring Island, Nelson, and Grand Forks.

Forest March BC is a province-wide, grass-roots campaign aimed at creating a unified voice to tell the government what B.C. residents want for their forests. Residents are asking that forest legislation include eco-system restoration, sustainable forestry, and meaningful community consultation about forests.

Forest March BC organizer Jennifer Houghton is a survivor of the May 2018 flood that devastated Grand Forks. Flood-related business losses in Grand Forks are more than $29 million, and the town has applied for $49 million in flood recovery funding from the province. Almost a year after the flood, there are still people living in RVs and motels as a result of losing their homes.

Houghton, whose home had four feet of water in it, wants people to rally for changes to forestry legislation, so there are no more losses like she and her neighbours suffered.

“We need to manage our forests differently, to lessen the amount of spring flooding, reduce the degree of drought, and mitigate the impact of climate change,” she said.

The call for forestry reform and more sustainable industry standards focuses on forest management in B.C., forest stewardship plans, site planning, and changes to the Forest Range Practices Act (FRPA).

Forest March B.C. wants to ensure that there is effective coordination of logging over an entire landscape shared by multiple contractors, and that forest stewardship plans identify where logging and road building will occur, and that they meet professional practice standards.

The group also wants site plans to be made available to the public at the tenure holder’s place of business. Site plans for cutblocks and roads must be prepared before the start of timber harvesting or road construction, but Forest March B.C. says there is no requirement to advertise the availability of site plans, there is usually no obligation to inform interested parties of site plans, the site plans might be located in several licencee’s offices, those offices might be distant from each other, and activities planned in the near future might not have site plans available.

Forest March B.C. is calling for changes to the FRPA, including landscape level planning to identify sustainable timber supply objectives and preserve non-timber values, creating clear statutory objectives that are verifiable and measurable, setting the standard for lawful behaviour and enabling consistent results.

The group is also calling on the government to retain authority to approve Forest Stewardship Plans, site plans, and licensee responses to orders and notices, along with incorporating public feedback that should be addressed, and much more.

For more information about Forest March BC, and to find the location and start time of a march in your community, visit www.forestmarchbc.com.

The Forest March in Golden will meet at Spirit Square at 10 a.m. on April 6. From there, participants will be welcomed, and receive a volunteer sign up sheet for another event taking place in May. Together, they will march to the campground, and take a photo.

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