Legal News

Amendments to Forestry Legislation Introduced

On May 8, 2003, the Government introduced two bills that are intended to address revitalization of the forest industry in the Province. Bill 45 – the Forest (Revitalization) Amendment Act (No. 2), 2003 and Bill 44 – the Forest Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2003 contain amendments that focus on the Government’s Forest Revitalization Plan, and in particular increased competition in the awarding of a timber-sale licences and the creation of opportunities for new entrants to the industry.

It is noteworthy that the proposed legislation creates potential liabilities for the forest industry. For example, some of the amendments introduce a requirement to pay stumpage fees for illegally harvested timber (over and above penalties of up to $1 million). In addition, new penalties have been introduced that are intended to deter collusion in the timber and log markets, and which include the potential cancellation of license agreements and/or the disqualification of the license holder from bidding for up to ten years.

The Forest (Revitalization) Amendment Act (No. 2), 2003 establishes an auction-based pricing system, allowing for timber-sale licenses to be awarded on a more market-driven basis. In addition, this legislation creates a new “community salvage license,” which Government says is intended to encourage communities, such as First Nations bands, incorporated societies, or other associations/ corporations, to diversify the forest economies of their region by making use of waste, or “qualified timber” left behind at the conclusion of a logging operation.

The Forest Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2003 transfers greater responsibility for forest management activities to license holders. In addition, this bill amends the Forest Practice Code of BC, Forest Act and Range Act with the intent of harmonizing compliance and enforcement provisions with those contained in Forest and Range Practices Act.