Last chance to shape a forest act to be proud of

The last week of consultation on the draft Forest Resources Act is underway. If you haven’t heard about the draft forest act or haven’t…

The last week of consultation on the draft Forest Resources Act is underway.

If you haven’t heard about the draft forest act or haven’t made time to read the 31-page consultation document, this may stimulate your thoughts with time to make the 5 p.m. Monday deadline for comments.

The Forest Values Focus Group formed in 2005.

We wanted to help shape a Yukon forest act that would take care of all forest uses and values.

Over the last month, we have been sharing information with a variety of organizations and individuals to help them review the draft act.

Our own review identifies areas that must be improved upon in the next draft of the forest act.

There is a guiding document for the Yukon Forest Resources Act.

It was developed in collaboration with the Yukon government, Yukon First Nations and renewable resource councils, and included input from stakeholders and the public.

This policy framework is supposed to “serve as a ‘benchmark’ to measure whether new legislation has covered the range and breadth of issues that are important to Yukoners.”

We believe the proposed act does not measure up.

Despite assurances in the policy framework stating the public will be consulted while developing the forest act, we believe that the Yukon government has made minimal efforts to reach and inform the public about the draft legislation.

It seems like the draft act has been kept ‘below the radar.’

There is no record of the Yukon government publicly announcing that there will be a 60-day period for the public to read and make comments on the draft act.

Forests are a public resource.

Why has the proposed forest act slipped between the cracks?

Before 5 p.m. on Monday you could ask the Yukon government to remedy this situation by properly inviting the public to review the next draft of the forest act and also the regulations.

You could remind the Yukon government that it committed to consultations in its policy framework document.

It is disappointing that the draft act is not based on what the ecosystem can provide.

In other boreal jurisdictions, it is the norm to plan forest use on ecosystem principles.

It is only through this approach that all values in Yukon forests — timber, tourism, trapping, outfitting, medicine plants, peace of mind and many others — can be taken care of.

The policy framework clearly outlines the ecosystem based approach that was envisioned by the parties involved in its development.

Before 5 p.m. Monday, you could remind the Yukon government it is not living up to its commitments.

You could ask for a forest stewardship act that is based on ecosystem principles — one that really does take care of all forest values.

The Forest Values Focus Group is happy to support a forest act that follows through on the statements made in the policy framework.

The Forest Values Focus Group is happy to support a forest act that effectively engages Yukon stakeholders and the public in the completion of the act and its regulations.

The Forest Values Focus Group is happy to support a forest act that uses ecosystem principles to provide for the stewardship of all forest values.

In our opinion, the draft act does not do any of these things.

We’ve suggested some commonsense solutions for each of these concerns. Before 5 p.m. Monday, tell Yukon government what your solutions are.

The draft act asks comments to be directed to Nicole.Hulstein@gov.yk.ca.

This is the seventh and last article in a series that has discussed important issues for you to consider as you assess the draft Yukon Forest Resources Act.