Act now: Clearcuts on private land are out of control

The comment period on the Private Managed Forest Land Act has now closed.

Large swaths of private BC forest are being clearcut without public notice, consultation or thought for community, wildlife or long-term forest sustainability.

Why is this happening?

A significant portion of BC’s logging—particularly in the Kootenays and on Vancouver Island—happens on private land, but current BC regulations on private land logging provide little to no protection for wildlife, water, or local communities—while giving logging companies big tax breaks.

What this means for you.

Weak regulations are a threat to both the economy and the environment as forests are being managed for short-term profit instead of long-term sustainability.

Companies log private land in ways that:

  • impact community trails, recreation and scenic views;
  • put tourism jobs at risk;
  • disrupt key wildlife corridors and habitats;
  • threaten ecosystems and watersheds;
  • affect our drinking water and fish habitats; and
  • threaten future forest economies.

Sights of barren landscapes—not green forest—are increasingly common as clearcuts are appearing all around Kootenay communities. There are large clearcuts on private land in Cottonwood Lake near Nelson, above homes in Wynndel near Creston, and along the steep hillsides of Fernie and the Elk Valley. Currently, more than one-quarter of the total logging in the East Kootenay is from private land. On the southern coast and Vancouver Island, more than one-fifth of total logging is on private managed forest land—and over half of that wood is being exported as raw logs instead of being processed in BC mills.

Current harvest levels cannot be sustained.

So many trees are being cut, so quickly, that wildlife, forests and communities are going to bear the consequences for generations.

Now, we are not talking about small land-owners cutting down a few trees, we are talking about large, publicly traded companies who own vast tracts of land and who are logging it at unsustainable rates. In the Elk Valley alone, Canwel is cutting so fast that at this rate, in less than 15 years they won’t have any trees left on the 1/8th of the Elk Valley that they own.

When forests are managed sustainably, it benefits all. When we log sustainably, we protect long-term tourism and forestry jobs, protect fragile ecosystems that provide critical wildlife habitat, clean our water, purify our air, and more, all without compromising the future for our children, or their children.

What can you do?

Now is the time to act. The BC government is reviewing the Private Managed Forest Land Program and asking what the future of logging on private land should look like.

Send a letter to the BC government to demand stronger regulations on private land logging. The public engagement period is open until July 22—have your say today.

Fast Facts:

  • The large tracts of private land in BC are largely the result of extensive railway land grants from the late 1800s. Crown land was offered by the government to railway companies as an incentive to build. Over time, most of this land has changed hands and is now managed for logging profits.
  • Of the 46,000 square kilometres of private land in BC, 18 per cent—mostly on southern Vancouver Island and in the Kootenays—is managed as part of the Private Managed Forest Land Program.
  • The Private Managed Forest Land Act came into effect in 2003. Private forest owners who choose to participate in the Private Managed Forest Land Program must comply with the Private Managed Forest Land Act and regulations. Regulations do not apply on private lands that are not registered.
  • Under the Private Managed Forest framework companies receive a major property tax break for managing their land as Private Managed Forest. This is essentially how we came to be in the position we are in today: it is profitable for companies to purchase private land for logging because they pay far less in property tax than the rest of us and pay no stumpage fees. There are also no exit fees for landowners who exit the program if their land has been in the program for more than 15 years, meaning it’s easy for forest lands to be logged and then flipped to developers for a quick profit.
  • In the Elk Valley, timber company Canwel owns 1/8th of the Valley and is logging it so fast that they won’t have anything left to cut in less than 15 years. Since they bought these lands from Tembec five years ago, the cutting rate has increased sevenfold.
  • BC is now undertaking a review of this program until July 22, 2019. The review is intended to make sure the program encourages private landowners to manage their lands for long-term forest production and encourages sustainable forest management practices, including protecting key public environmental values.

Want to do even more?

After, sending a letter, fill out the Private Managed Forest Land Program review questionnaire, and refer to our helpful survey guide to answer the questions.