Until July 15th you have the opportunity to change the way logging is done in BC – to protect watersheds, tourism, biodiversity, old-growth forests and ultimately the safety and livelihood of all British Columbians.
The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) is up for review and the government is looking for public input on this important legislation which governs logging in BC.
Why your input is important
The passing of the FRPA into law in 2004 was widely seen by environmental groups as a disappointing step backward in forestry management from the FRPA’s predecessor, the Forest Practices Code.
Though the mainstream media largely ignored the rollback of forestry protections, environmental groups braced for a logging industry with renewed power. A report by West Coast Environmental Law outlined how the FRPA reduced or eliminated industry accountability and gave industry a mandate to set their own environmental standards. Government was now unable to stop industry even when logging threatened towns, watersheds, rare and endangered habitats and the stability of landslide zones over homes. This is still the case today.
As British Columbians, we now have a chance to give our input on the FRPA, via a government survey. It’s important for the government to make changes to the logging practices governed by this law. The more people that come forward with informed answers, the better chance we have of improving BC forest management.
How the FRPA can be changed for the better
After careful consideration of the underlying issues, several environmental, scientific and watchdog groups have created guides to inform British Columbians on how the FRPA can be improved. Some groups have even provided answers that you can use to frame your own responses to the survey. We’ve provided a list of these guides, and a link to the survey where you can provide your own responses.
Recommended changes include:
- Public, municipal/regional and Indigenous peoples’ input into, and control over, what is logged and where, allowing, for example, the protection of watersheds and slopes at risk of landslides, and local environmental and cultural values.
- More decision-making power for district forest managers, who currently have little or no control over what is cut and how, but who are most able to assess community values and the risks of logging in specific areas.
- Specific, strongly-worded and enforceable protections for drinking water.
- Strict and legally-enforced accountability for logging companies that violate the FRPA, damage watersheds, or cause landslides and other environmental disasters.
- An ecosystem-based approach to forestry that recognizes the importance of protection for crucial habitat areas and corridors for species at risk, the value of carbon storage, and biodiversity.
- Logging practices that recognize and prepare for the effects of climate change, including a halt to the logging of forests that may not grow back due to reduced rainfall or changes in average temperature.
- Logging practices that reduce the risk of forest fires, including a halt to killing deciduous trees with herbicides such as glyphosate in order to encourage conifer growth. Killing deciduous tree species eliminates important natural deterrents to the spread of forest fires.
- Independent oversight and auditing of logging companies and their practices, especially in cases where there are public complaints.
- Input from scientific experts and groups in all stages of the planning, implementation and auditing of logging practices.
- Public transparency in the planning and logging process, including when and how companies violate the FRPA. Currently this information is kept from the public.
Sample answers to the survey
Guides to how the FRPA can be improved
Click here to take the government survey and help improve the FRPA!
Dan Spring is a teacher, journalist, avid paddler, and social justice advocate. With his partner Nichol Ward, he recently co-founded the Kootenay-based watershed stewardship group Stream Cleaners.