The kafuffle over a local wood purchasing policy by Nelson city council is a tempest in a teapot. There is only one main issue regarding our forest that should capture our attention. Who should manage this vast resource that surrounds us?
Victoria has always regarded our forest as a cash cow; it mattered not what political party was in power. As the years went by, timber quotas were consolidated and local public management was eliminated, and the corporations were given the ability to self-regulate.
Ninty-five per cent of the land around us is public domain. We own the land and we own the forest. But we are a community of immigrants and immigrants do not see the forest, they only see each other and the products from the forest.
Our forests at present are managed by the Softwood Lumber Agreement, Victoria’s royalty-based timber quotas, the Free Trade Agreement with the USA, the bottom lines and singular focus of lumber and timber corporations, the capital intensive logging and milling practices where timber and lumber leave our valleys untouched by the human hand, plus soon to be inked resource giveaways with Europe and China. They want what we have.
For the good of our forest and our own economic best interest, we need local control over our forest and a whole new split on the stumpage royalties generated from our precious inland temperate rain forest.
A long time, old time resident told me once: “We won’t get control of our forest back until the trees are gone.” Well, that day may soon be upon us. The corporations are running out of good options regarding where to cut next, but with proper local management, we have a sustainable gold mine in the long run.
It is time for the immigrants to become the custodians of our forest. It is time for us to see the forest AND the trees.