BC has lagged behind other areas in regulating timber harvesting on privately managed forest lands, so it is good to see the RDCK raising the issues and exploring solutions. Some perspective, however, is required.
Our communities are clear cuts.
While recognizing the overall significance of climate change, past studies ranked the threats to our local ecosystems from local development as: No. 1, dams and associated flooding. No. 2, human settlement. No. 3, other industrial and commercial activities. Yep, we are No. 2. Taken together, all our clear cuts — we call them lots — add up to a significant negative impact.
Public and private forest practices should sustain ecosystems, not just focus on economic benefits — to protect water, plant communities and all the species that depend on them. And the amount of land that is permanently transformed through the creation of forestry roads and other infrastructure needs to be limited.
Are we prepared to apply those same requirements to our clear cuts (lots)?
Will we reduce our use of water and our impacts on water resources, such as ripping up surfaces that prevent water from seeping into the ground to support vegetation? Will we rip up lawns and plant wildflowers to support native bees? We could build houses with smaller footprints and allocate less space for cars. Will we prevent our pets from killing birds and other wildlife?
And if we don’t voluntarily take these actions, will we support local governments to create regulations, hire bylaw officers and hand out fines — as we want done for public and private forestry operations? Or will we vote out of office any elected official who dares to talk with us about our responsibilities as landowners?
All those who benefit from local ecosystems should be held accountable for how we use them but calling for accountability is like throwing a boomerang — it comes right back at us.