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Forest minister to now approve tenure swaps

Forest Minister Doug Donaldson
Forest Minister Doug Donaldson

Amendments to the Forest Act will bring political oversight to the sale or transfer of forest tenures.

“We want all British Columbians to benefit from the forest industry, including companies, large and small, First Nations, workers and communities,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in a news release. “These amendments will help support a vibrant and diverse forest sector by preventing further concentration of harvesting rights.”

With the changes, forest companies will now need approval from the minister before they dispose of or transfer a tenure agreement to another party. As a result, the minister will be able to refuse to approve the new arrangement if it is not in the public interest or put conditions on the approval.

For years, through the control of the disposition of Crown tenures, major forest licensees have controlled the market for milling and forest tenure holdings. As a result, smaller operators like communities and First Nations found it harder to compete.

Changes to the Forest Act will:

  • improve government’s ability to exert more control over the disposition of Crown tenures;
  • ensure that public interest is considered in the disposition of Forest Act agreements;
  • ensure that dispositions and changes of control do not result in further concentration within the forestry sector; and
  • ensure government has the necessary information when needed from companies to inform policy and legislative changes to address emerging forestry issues.

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