Raw Log Exports - Driven by Corruption and Greed - Are Destroying Jobs and the Commons in BC

BC's controversial new forest plan has been cobbled together by the Special Committee on Timber Supply's report that was itself a response to the tragic explosion and fire at the Babine Forest Proucts mill last winter in that the rebuilding of the mill is totally dependent on an available timber supply. The committee made up of BC Liberals and NDP politicians along with Forest Ministry foresters and assorted government bureaucrats concluded, among other things, that the only way that Babine could be assured of the necessary supply over the next decade was to log the 'reserves' of forest that would otherwise not have been logged.

As the Tyee article titled 'A Shocking Glimpse of BC's New Forest Plan' explains: "So-called 'reserves' are biologically rich remnant patches of old-growth trees, important forests for wildlife species, forests in visually stunning valleys or slopes near towns, economically more marginal tracts of trees and forests higher up on mountain slopes are now all about to be 'harvested'. All in the name of buying a few more years of logging, which will in turn place an even higher burden on future generations." The BC Liberal and NDP members of the timber supply committee were unanimous in their decision to resolve the Burns Lake issue by logging these 'reserves'.

The committee also unanimously agreed that exporting unprocessed logs from the Burns Lake and Prince George regions is a mistake that has done harm to all of the stakeholders, be they mill operators, forest workers or forest-dependent communities. In the 1990s, log exports were well below a million cubic metres per year. Today, that number is north of 5 million cubic metres. Raw log exports were minimal and usually restricted to ceremonial or carving type uses until the early 80s when the high interest rate driven recession of that era was used as a weapon of propaganda by the bankers and capitalists who then leveraged the public's fear by the mid 80's into allowing the “free enterprising” Socreds  to shred the TFL agreements. Specifically the paragraphs that required local manufacturing and the requirement by license holders to actually employ people.

Further changes in the tenure language which took place during the early 90’s when each of the licenses were reissued pertaining to jobs and local manufacturing have led to huge profits for shareholders and bankers, to huge bonuses for corporate executives and to the loss of thousands of jobs as a result of the corruption of government bureaucrats and politicians by the capitalist greed machine.

More tomorrow on how the interplay of government, corporate greed, professional foresters and unions led us and BC's once endless forests to today's sorry state. For today, let's end with 'The Charter of the Forest', the section of the Magna Carta that myth says was forced on the elites long ago by the original Robin Hood. The Charter of the Forest demanded protection of the commons from external power. The commons were then, as they are still here in BC, the source of sustenance for the general population: their fuel, their food, their construction materials, whatever was essential for life. The Charter of the Forest imposed limits to privatization but over time the rise of capitalism undermined how the commons were treated. In present day BC, and beyond, ignorance and fear have nearly eclipsed the concept of the commons as the shared heritage that was passed down to us by our ancestors and blinded us to our duty to pass it on to our descendants.