Dear SSCF chair and president Glen Bonderud – are you willing to consider the following changes
Published With Permission by Heather Conn, Roberts Creek, BC – heatherconnblogs.com
Dec. 9, 2012
Dear Sunshine Coast Community Forest chair and president Glen Bonderud:
In light of the recent logging in Wilson Creek Forest and resulting protests and arrests, I was wondering if you and the Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF) are willing to consider the following changes:
- Having SCCF meetings open to the public. Currently, the SCCF holds all of its meeting in camera. This does not meet the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization’s definition of a community forest as “any situation which intimately involves local people in a forestry activity.” A consistent policy of closed meetings, even with minutes made public, helps create an atmosphere of distrust, no dialogue, and of ignoring the broader public interest.
- In lieu of logging some hectares of local forest, receiving payment from the community in the same amount that you would otherwise receive for the trees. Some community members have already considered this option and were interested in discussing it with the SCCF. Enough local people feel so passionately about having a say in how their “community forest” is managed, that they are willing to use personal monies and public fund-raising for this purpose.
- An attitudinal shift in how you view those who seek to preserve our forests. Local people of all ages care about our forests. When denied access to decision-makers and a consultative process, some, out of frustration, feel compelled to resort to more high-profile action. These people are not harassers, ne’er-do-wells, and anti-B.C.ers. Many are not against logging per se; instead, as public stakeholders, they merely seek an inclusive form of forest management that considers long-term options beyond immediate clearcuts. Remember: In expressing themselves publicly, they are exercising their democratic rights.
- A willingness to participate in a Local Resource Use Plan or Land and Resource Management Plan that engages a broad section of the local community and considers their input regarding past, current, and future forestry practices on the Sunshine Coast. Currently, only about three percent of our region’s land base is protected. That’s one of the lowest ratios in the province. Across B.C., 14 percent of the land base is parks, says Dylan Eyers, BC Parks’ area supervisor for the Sunshine Coast. Our current record of forest destruction needs rethinking; we are a vulnerable area that hopes to receive revenues in tourism and recreation over the long term; existing forests, not just tree farms, are a key component of that future.
- A willingness to broaden the stakeholder role of the SCCF. If the current membership more accurately represented a cross-section of community members, allowing for a wider range of viewpoints, any resulting decisions would better reflect the diverse views regarding forestry in this region. This would also lend the decision-making process more credibility.
- Having logs, now cut on the Sunshine Coast, processed in B.C., rather than sent offshore. This would demonstrate a long-term commitment to the economy and sustainability of our own region and province rather than a vision of short-term gain.
Your foresight and proactive response now to any or all of these issues would introduce a true community forest on the Sunshine Coast. It would reflect admirable leadership in sustainability, creating community-wide participation, and growth. Logging and revenues would continue and parks could be made. But choices, made collaboratively, of where, when, and how much to cut, would undoubtedly change current policies. This could bring positive global attention to our region. Sweden has demonstrated this approach effectively; why can’t you?
Otherwise, if current trends continue, we will undoubtedly see what has happened in other B.C. regions, from Clayoquot Sound to Saltspring Island. Ultimately, adversarial, closed-door politics do not benefit anyone; they only lead to entrenched thinking on both sides, disrespect and resentment, needless stress, and unnecessary expense. Will local citizens have to resort to organizing global boycotts on wood logged on the Sunshine Coast before they, and these issues, receive respect and attention? I hope not.
If you’re wondering, I am writing this on my own initiative, not representing any organization or input from anyone else. I am one voice, a concerned citizen who despairs at the lack of public, transparent process in the handling of one of our greatest resources, our local forests and their accompanying ecology. There are lots of us here.
Roberts Creek, BC
cc: Sechelt Mayor John Henderson; Steve Thomson, B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations; Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast; The Local; The Coast Reporter