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SCCA critical of permit plan

The recent announcement that forest stewardship plans (FSP) and cutting permits for Sechelt Community Projects Inc. (SCPI) have been approved is drawing criticism and action by the Sunshine Coast Conservation Asso-ciation (SCCA).

The recent announcement that forest stewardship plans (FSP) and cutting permits for Sechelt Community Projects Inc. (SCPI) have been approved is drawing criticism and action by the Sunshine Coast Conservation Asso-ciation (SCCA).

The SCCA wants to see more environmental protection in the FSP and they don't like the fact SCPI will be able to take two years worth of timber from the community forest within one year.

"I think it's unfortunate and a bit shameful that they haven't used this opportunity to produce an FSP that would reflect the values of this community. But that's kind of the underlying problem right there is that we have a so-called community forest that's not controlled by the community and it doesn't share the community's values," executive director for SCCA Dan Bouman said, noting the environmental standards set out in the FSP are "the minimum requirements of the law." He also said the fact the province is allowing SCPI to draw 40,000 cu. m of timber from the forest this year, rather than the 20,000 cu. m annual allowable cut previously identified is "not sustainable."

"In their application and timber supply analysis, they've only been able to document about six years of timber supply in the operating area to begin with. So now they're going to wipe out one-third of that in one year. Again I have to say that this is a long way below mediocre. It's not sustainable. It doesn't reflect community values, the high value that the community puts on sustainability. I'm not surprised, but I think it's a bit disgraceful," Bouman said.

Kevin Davie, operations manager for the community forest, says there has been at least 10 years worth of timber supply identified within the community forest and that "doesn't include the areas in Chapman Creek and Gray Creek."

He says SCPI is now starting a detailed timber inventory that will probably take about a year to complete and will demonstrate the long-term sustainability of the cutblocks within the community forest tenure.

He also noted the FSP may be changed to include more environmental standards in the future, but that right now it meets all the requirements of the province.

"I think that an FSP is a building document and as we learn more information about our forest and we learn how to manage that area, we can add to the FSP. But our priority is to make sure that we comply with the act and the regulations. So people can have lots of opinions about how far we should go and what not, but we're planning a very methodical and planned approach to this," Davie said.

He also disputed the statement by Bouman that the community forest "doesn't share the community's values."

"This also went through CFAC [community forest advisory committee] and we took their comments. I guess the largest group of comments came from the SCCA and we addressed them in our response to them. The province felt it was adequate and approved the FSP. We can't be everything to everybody. We'd like to be, and maybe we will be in the future," he said.

SCPI chair Len Pakulak noted he felt CFAC did a good job bringing a range of values and ideas about the community forest from the Sunshine Coast community to the attention of the board, and those values and ideas were taken into consideration when drafting the FSP.

"The best way to understand and learn what the values are that are dear to the community is through CFAC, and we've invited all members of the community, most of them through advertisements in the newspaper, but several people who are known enthusiasts we've invited personally to sit on the committee. And some of our very critics have been invited and chosen not to participate. It's disappointing to us," Pakulak said.

The approved FSP and cutting permits mean that SCPI can start harvesting any time now. They plan to take the 40,000 cu. m from four potential cutblocks; two are behind the landfill, one is at Trout Lake and one is at Wormy Lake.

Pakulak is not sure when the first log will be felled but the event will be widely publicized and the community will be invited out to take part.

In response to the apparent green light given to SCPI to log in the local community forest, the SCCA is planning action against the corporation and government officials. The details of that action are yet to be released.

"There will be some actions and they'll be put on the website [] where everyone will have access to it. Meanwhile, I can just say that we are continuing to bring the people involved in the community forest and the government decision makers that were involved in the decision under scrutiny," Bouman said.

He said the process could take some time as he is awaiting documentation applied for under the Freedom of Information Act.

"This thing of bringing decision makers under scrutiny, it can take a long time because until you have the documentation that indicates that something's amiss, then you can't really do much," he added.