Marijuan Party on forestry and hemp

FORESTRY
* The BC Marijuana recognizes that successive Provincial Governments have mismanaged BC’s forests, resulting in environmental degradation, loss of revenue and unemployment.

A January 2001 report from the Sierra Legal Defence Fund called “Stumpage Sellout” revealed the “systematic and pervasive problem in how forest companies harvest, measure and report the value of timber.”

The report explains how successive provincial governments have been giving away BC forests to multinational logging companies far below their actual value. The report concludes that “had major forest companies paid market rates for logs between 1993 and 1998, as much as $6 billion more in stumpage fees may have been collected.” That’s $1 billion dollars each year which is going to forest company executives instead of the people of BC.

Further, the Sierra Legal Defence Fund report shows that logging companies, including MacMillan Bloedel/Weyerhaueser, International Forest Products Ltd, Doman/Western Forest Products, TimberWest and West Fraser Mills, habitually engage in fraud against the BC government. By manipulating the quality of timber being sampled from their cutting permit areas, these logging companies are able to pay minimum rates of 25 cents per cubic meter for wood valued at $40 or more.

The report found that in the last two-and-a-half years, major forest companies logging on BC’s coast alone shortchanged the province by $224 million. In one case, TimberWest paid only $22,700 for timber that was originally valued at $3.7 million. Interfor was the named as the biggest offender, being responsible for about $100 million of the total fraud.

In contrast, independent loggers and mill operators are nevertheless able to produce a profit while paying a higher stumpage fee than major forestry companies.

Report summary: www.sierralegal.org/m_archive/pr01_01_29.html

Complete report in PDF format: www.sierralegal.org/reports/SLDF_stumpage3.pdf

* We advocate lawsuits and legislative action to force these companies to pay back the true value of all timber they have logged in British Columbia, plus substantial punitive fines and possible criminal charges against management.

The Vancouver Sun quoted NDP Forestry Minister Gordon Wilson’s response to the Sierra Legal Defence Fund report: “I don’t want to come in with draconian measures – go in with a hard enforcement policy – prior to giving the companies an opportunity to explain why they are doing what they are doing.”

* We advocate for the implementation of the recommendations of the January 2001 Sierra Legal Defence Fun report. The report’s four recommendations are that there be an investigation of the entire stumpage and appraisal system, that forestry companies not be left to appraise their own stumpage fees, that more logs be sold through open auction, and that stumpage fees be based upon all of the trees in a given block, and not just a particular sample.

* We also advocate for substantial changes to the way BC forests are owned and managed. We advocate decentralization of the forestry industry, whereby forests are maintained and owned by local institutions and communities.

We propose that the ownership and control of BC’s forests and crown land be returned directly to the people and communities of the province. We advocate a commission being set up, to report back within three months, providing analysis and options on how this can best be done.

We would like the commission to consider but not be limited to a combination of some or all of the following proposals:

* providing long-term, renewable area-based forest licenses to local communities.

* providing all BC citizens with transferrable shares in crown lands.

* increasing community forests and woodlots

* creating greater diversity in forest tenure agreements

* defining logging and forestry rights as being over a specified area of land, rather than a set volume of timber.

* The “zoning” of forests at the landscape level, defining biological regions to maximize their environmental health and economic potential.

This excellent analysis of BC’s forest situation, called Tenure reform for ecologically and socially responsible forest use in British Columbia, explains how “the current tenure system is based on a negative view of small forestry operations.” and that “BC has the lowest recorded employment level per unit of wood harvested in the world. At the same time, the amount cut annually has increased dramatically over the last four decades.”

This is an interesting website from an organization which promotes Forests and Communities.

The Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities Partnership website.

HEMP

We recognize that cannabis hemp is a superb source of pulp for production of paper, and that long-term hemp farming can provide more pulp for paper per acre than timber logging.

We also recognize that hemp pulp does not contain the lingins found in tree pulp, and therefore mills processing hemp pulp do not need to use toxic dioxins.

We propose that the BC government work with provincial farmers and mills to introduce cannabis hemp as an alternative source of paper.

We advocate tax incentives to pulp mills to convert to processing hemp pulp.

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