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Changes proposed for private woodlots

Changes recently proposed by the province regarding private woodlots were brought forward by the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations

Changes recently proposed by the provincial government to allow woodlot tenure owners to withdraw their private land from their operations but retain their woodlots were brought forward at the request of the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations, according to federation general manager Brian McNaughton.

“It’s good forest and social policy,” he said. “Two-thirds of woodlot owners are over 55 years of age, while probably 90 per cent are over 45.”

The changes would allow the older owners to arrange their estates better.

Some have more than one child and it wouldn’t be possible to transfer the tenure to all siblings equally.

The changes also would assist those owners whose wealth is largely tied up in land to plan for retirement. Some of the private land tied up with woodlots, especially on the Coast, has increased substantially in value.

“There’s still a lot of work with regulations and policy changes to be done,” said McNaughton. “We’ll work with the government on the details ... if the changes are passed.”

The proposed changes have created some controversy because the original intent with woodlots was that the owners would get the use of public land in return for keeping private land as forest.

Creating local wood markets

Federation of BC Woodlot Associations was involved in setting up, said McNaughton.

“It’s a buyer and seller website, including wood, equipment, people and services,” he said. “The idea is there are lots of opportunities in the local areas, except the people who would be buying or selling are too busy working to find each other. It if works, it will be good for the community and will help rebuild the smaller businesses in the forest sector. We believe there’s still room in the province for smaller operations.”

The website began operating during the Union of BC Municipalities convention late last month.

Updating Clearwater association

McNaughton was in Clearwater for a meeting of the Clearwater Woodlot Association last Wednesday evening.

“I try to get here about once a year to answer questions and see what their lives are like,” he said.

The federation general manager said three years ago the province said it would grant another 150,000 cubic meters in woodlot tenures. So far about 90,000 cubic meters have been granted. He noted that there has been competition for wood from other users, such as community forests and First Nations forest tenures.

At present there are about 16 members in the local association. McNaughton could not say whether any new woodlots would be granted in this area in the near future.