British Columbians can now have their say on how private forests are managed.
On Tuesday, the Province formally announced a review of the Private Managed Forest Land Program.
It was established in 2003 with the introduction of the Private Managed Forest Land Act to encourage sustainable forest management practices, including protecting key public environmental values.
“We want to hear from the public about whether there is room for improvement in the management of private forests and also whether the private managed forest land program is a benefit to private forest owners, and the communities they live in,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The Ministry will meet directly with and accept written submissions from landowners, local government, First Nations and organizations and community groups that are directly impacted by activities on private managed forest land.
Private land logging has been a hot topic in communities such as the Elk Valley as forestry companies move into more visible areas and clearcuts impact trails, and sight lines.
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The City of Fernie and City of Nelson have called on the Province to strengthen regulations and standards for private land logging by bringing them in line with those on Crown land.
Their resolutions, endorsed by the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments, will now go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities for consideration at its annual convention in Vancouver from September 23-27.
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Of the 4.6 million hectares of private land in B.C., about 818,000 hectares - primarily located on southern Vancouver Island and the Kootenays - are managed as part of the Private Managed Forest Land Program and regulated under the Private Managed Forest Land Act and regulations.
The Managed Forest Council is the independent provincial agency established to administer the program.
“The Managed Forest Council is proud of our responsive role as regulators for private managed forest land and we are pleased that a recent, multi-year review has resulted in regulatory amendments to more effectively protect drinking water quality on managed forest land,” said Rod Davis, chair of the Managed Forest Council.
“The Province’s review of the program will further ensure that the program is meeting the needs of managed forest owners, local communities and residents.”
Information gathered as part of the review will be used by the Ministry to examine how well the program is meeting its goals and whether any changes are necessary to maintain public confidence in the program. A summary report will be ready in fall 2019.
Public input on the program is welcome until 4 p.m. on July 9. Feedback forms and more information are available: Engage.gov.bc.ca/privatemanagedforest.