The story of Joe, or could this be possible?

The story of Joe, or could this be possible? Imagine, after years of consulting and research, and more than $1 million put into the development of the Yukon's forestry legislation and regulations, the following scenario: Joe, a resident of Yukon (or not)

Imagine, after years of consulting and research, and more than $1 million put into the development of the Yukon’s forestry legislation and regulations, the following scenario:

Joe, a resident of Yukon (or not), without a business plan or a resume that shows a sound financial background, and perhaps without logging experience or a good record while logging, can get a 10-year licence to manage a woodlot. This licence can be renewed. This gives Joe the right to log up to 2,000 cubic metres of live and dead trees from his woodlot each year. Joe’s woodlot can be as big as 2,994 hectares.

It is our understanding from the draft forestry regulations that are currently out for public consultation, the trees Joe cuts from his woodlot can be over and above the annual cut for the region where Joe’s woodlot is located.

It is our understanding that the draft regulations may allow Joe to have a woodlot in a region that does not have a forest resources management plan, and that Joe can get a cutting licence without an approved plan for his woodlot.

If Joe desired, he could cut and ship raw logs out of Yukon. When those trees are gone, it appears that he can then cut everything remaining for biofuel Ð big trees, small trees, aspen, pine etc.

Then, it appears that Joe can sell his woodlot and maybe even apply for another one.

Sound ridiculous?

According to what is presently understood by the Forest Values Focus Group about the Forest Resources Act passed last year, and the regulations and the standards that are being developed Ð Joe’s story could come true.

The Forest Values Focus Group is a group of people who use the forest in a variety of ways. We came together to make recommendations on the Yukon’s forest legislation, and we have been working within the Yukon government’s process for developing the Forest Resources Act, regulations and standards. We recognize one of the priorities of the act is to enable the cutting of timber.

We support Yukon companies getting licences to cut trees. We support the use of best-management practices while cutting trees. We support the production of value-added products. We support meeting the needs of Yukoners from our forests, including timber. We support the export of finished timber products. And we support woodlot licences.

Woodlots could be an excellent tool for Yukoners to get access to green wood for manufacturing value-added wood products and to cut personal and/or commercial firewood. Woodlots are the right scale for Yukon forests, and they suit the Yukon way of life. However, the economic and ecological benefits of woodlots will be severely limited if Joe’s scenario is allowed to unfold.

It is critical that proper community-based regional plans provide the framework for where woodlots may and may not be appropriate. These plans are also necessary to provide the basis for a sustainable annual cut in the planning area. Within the community-based plan, woodlot plans are needed to ensure sustainability at a smaller scale.

In addition to enabling logging, the other priority of the Forest Resources Act is to prevent impacts from logging on others who use or benefit from the forest. Community-based regional plans and woodlot plans are necessary to protect the other users of Yukon forests so that some of us can cut trees while others are still able to use our forests.

The regulations came out for public consultation at the beginning of August. Yukon government is accepting comments on the regulations until 5 p.m. on October 30. The regulations can be accessed through the following link: http://www.emr.gov.yk.ca/.

Yukon Forest Values Focus Group