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L E T T E R S
In response to the article in the December/January issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal about the Forest Stewardship Council certifying BC's Timfor Contractors: Some clarification is required, based on the fact that Timfor is identified as being the first certified resource manager in Canada through FSC. In October 1998, Tembec Inc.'s Huntsville division in Ontario became certified through FSC (# SCSRM00005). The certifying agency that performed our audit was Scientific Certification Systems. At the time, we became the first company to be certified through FSC. Our certification is for the private lands we manage, and not our Crown licence area, which is what Timfor was certified for in British Columbia. By no means is this to take away any of the success of Timfor's certification, as this is great news for the forest industry, illustrating the commitments companies and contractors are making to the environment.
Tim McGinnis Silvicultural Supervisor Tembec Inc. Huntsville, Ontario
Privatization Not The Only Alternative Concerning the guest column by Clark Binkley in the December/January issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal, I was a bit disturbed by the assertion on his part that the only alternative to save the logging industry in British Columbia is to privatize some of our public timberlands. Mr. Binkley, according to the endnote, was formerly dean of forestry at the University of BC. That being the case, he may be familiar with the 1991 Forest Resources Commission report. It recommended that the current quotas allotted to major licence holders be reduced to 50 per cent of their current levels. That 50 per cent would form their core business. This would allow for some guaranteed fibre supply. The licence holders would then have to secure the remainder of their fibre supply, if they wished to maintain their current outputs, on the open market at competitive prices. It was recommended that the balance of the cut be sold competitively through public log sort yards (such as the one in the Vernon Forest District that has operated since 1993), and be divided up among communities, First Nations, and others. It was not recommended that the land base be sold. Long term leasing, which acknowledges the financial expenditure that has been invested in the timber on the land, will accomplish the same goals as he suggests without selling the farm. The timber companies don't need the land-just the timber it grows. Once sold, it is virtually impossible to get it back if you change your mind. I am surprised that Mr. Binkley doesn't remember the report I cited. If he did, he would have remembered that privatization is not the only alternative.
Charles Lopez Chairman, United Salvage Loggers Association of BC Lumby, BC
The December/January issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal had articles that hit two subjects near and dear to my heart: The guest column by Clark Binkley on privatizing BC forest land and Jim Stirling's article on Uruguay. About three years ago I wrote a discussion paper for the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations that promoted the idea of woodlot licensees being given the opportunity to purchase the Crown land on the woodlots. The government would hold a mortgage on the land, which would be paid out on during periods of harvest. The simple analysis showed that government revenues would stay the same or increase over time as mortgage payments replaced stumpage, and revenues in the BC Logging Tax, corporate taxes and personal taxes increased. The big benefit was a predicted doubling of allowable cut through intensive management and a doubling of employment created from the same piece of land after it was privatized. The Forest Policy Review of last year, now largely forgotten, included the privatization of woodlots in its recommendations. I agree with Clark Binkley that this obvious solution of partial privatization of forest land in BC will be ignored or avoided until the government of the day sees no other options or solutions. Secondly, the article on the forest industry in Uruguay fairly and accurately described the country and the opportunity that is present there. If anything, Jim Stirling may have underplayed the dynamic success story Uruguay will prove to be over the next one to two decades. I am directly involved in forest plantation management in Uruguay and in bringing more Canadian investment into the country. The present NDP government in BC has succeeded in doing what Dave Barrett's government did to the mining industry in the 1970s-that is, make being involved in the BC forest industry so unattractive for business that companies and individuals take their money and experience somewhere else, where it will be appreciated. I believe that that place today is Uruguay. It presents the same opportunities that Chile and New Zealand had 20 years ago to get into the forest plantation business at a reasonable cost and then grow with the industry as it matures. I appreciated the timely articles.
Ross Harris, RPF Prince George, BC
Readers took issue and agreed with Clark Binkley's guest column on privatizing the forest land base in British Columbia and voiced their thoughts in letters to the editor.