Lots of misinformation

Government maintains oversight and control by investigating and penalizing any regulatory non-compliance

In response to your editorial “OUR VIEW: Provincial oversight missing in Cortes logging dispute” published Dec. 12.

There is a lot of misinformation swirling around regarding the protection of key public environmental values on private managed forest lands. The Private Forest Landowners Association (PFLA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the responsible stewardship of B.C.’s private forest lands. We appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

Enforcement of federal, provincial and local government regulations on private managed forest land is conducted by a long list of regulatory agencies, including: Environment Canada; Fisheries & Oceans Canada; Parks Canada; Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations; the Private Managed Forest Land Council and others.

Government maintains oversight and control by investigating and penalizing any regulatory non-compliance brought to their attention through inspections, reports, and forest practices audits. Any member of the public can contact the regulatory agency with an allegation of non-compliance and an investigation will follow. The Private Managed Forest Land Council is the regulatory agency responsible for the Managed Forest Program. They have a responsive regulatory process that swings into action and completes investigations much faster than the public land model. Penalties for failing to meet environmental laws are financially significant. Owners have additional incentives to meet or exceed legal requirements because a single non-compliance event can jeopardise valuable third-party forest management certification. This is detrimental to forest owners who rely on third-party certification to satisfy their customers’ demand for sustainably managed forest products.

This results-oriented regulatory approach leverages a dynamic unique to private land: owners are held fully responsible for their actions. In contrast, the multiple and overlapping licencees, authorizing agencies and users, found on public land, often make it difficult to determine who’s responsible for what. This is also known as “the tragedy of the commons.”

In our view, it’s not a question of determining whether there’s sufficient government oversight on private land, but rather a matter of understanding a completely different model of ownership and responsibility.

PFLA is committed to raising awareness about private forest management and we welcome your questions and comments.

Rod Bealing

Private Forest Landowners Association