The B.C. government has introduced changes to forest harvest licenses to simplify operations for energy and mining companies, and loosen land use restrictions for private woodlot owners.
“The minor amendments introduced today are important steps in our continuing commitment to streamline the administrative processes associated with natural resource development,” said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.
The proposed legislation gives Thomson authority to allow woodlot owners to remove private land from woodlot licenses. The ministry said in a statement the change will “… provide woodlot owners flexibility in managing their assets in changing economic times, and to plan for retirement.”
B.C. presently has about 860 active woodlots, and aims to add up to 30 more by March 31, 2014. Each woodlot generates jobs in planning, harvesting, road construction and maintenance, reforestation, silviculture and small-scale timber processing. Most, but not all woodlot licenses, include private land.
“The majority of B.C.’s woodlot licenses are held and managed by families. The BC Federation of Woodlot Associations asked the government to create an option whereby government could approve requests by our members to remove private land so they can better plan their financial futures,” commented BC Federation of Woodlot Associations president Mark Clark.
Cutting permits for oil and gas activities requiring logging are to be extended from five years to 10. Free use permits to allow small amounts of logging to develop a mining claim would have their term extended from one to five years.
Amendments would also allow the direct award of fiber supply licenses to allow access to wood waste for biofuel production. Fiber Supply Licenses to Cut have been created to enable bioenergy producers to access slash piles along roadsides and on log landings.
Other amendments will ensure timely and accurate submission of information from timber cruises to calculate stumpage fees.
Proposed amendments to the Foresters Act will enable timber cruisers to be officially certified in order to provide confidence that accurate information used to calculate stumpage is being collected. Timber cruising involves gathering data on the amount, type, grade and value of trees to be cut into timber in a particular cutblock.
Proposed amendments to the Resort Timber Administration Act will allow for a more coordinated approach to administering Crown timber within controlled recreation areas, such as ski hills, by ensuring Crown timber on private land can be dealt with under the Act.