Q. How is private managed forest land assessed for property tax purposes?

In the late eighties, a new property class, Class 7, was introduced called Managed Forest Land. Forest land in this class is privately owned and valued on a two part basis, as detailed in section 24 of the Assessment Act.

First, there is a bare land value that incorporates factors like soil quality, accessibility, parcel size and location.

Second, there is an added value for cut timber when it is harvested; for example, timber harvested in the calendar year 2000 will show up as added value on the assessment notice of a forest land property in 2002. For property taxes payable in the summer of 2002, part of the value might come from trees harvested up to two years prior. Prospective purchasers of property classed as forest land are advised to enquire about the possible property tax implications of previous harvesting on the property.

Both the land and harvested timber are valued on the basis of rates prescribed by the assessment commissioner.

Further information on valuation and classification can be obtained from BC Assessment through either the local assessor, their website or the Senior Forester, Valuation Services Division, 1537 Hillside Avenue, Victoria, BC, V8T 4Y2.

Q. Is all private land covered by the Private Managed Forest Land Act? Why is the regulation not applied to other private forests?
The Private Managed Forest Land Act covers managed forests in BC. This amounts to just less than half of the private forest land in B.C.

However, the PFLA strongly believes that the government should protect the key public environmental values on all other private lands to the same standards as set out in the Private Managed Forest Land Act. Farmers, ranchers, golf course owners and those with trees on their land should protect the key public environmental values as well.

Incentives are needed to attract unmanaged forest land and other land class owners into the Managed Forest Program to promote protection of key public environmental values and encourage long term forest management.

Q. Do private forest landowners manage for biodiversity, cut block size, visual quality considerations or rate of harvest?
 This is a question of priorities. The focus of private forest landowners in the Managed Forest Program and managed forests in the Agricultural Land Reserve is on protecting key public environmental values—fish habitat, water quality, soil productivity, critical wildlife habitat and the growing of trees. Social values, such as visual quality and biodiversity, are more appropriately protected on the public lands that make up over 95% of British Columbia. That said, PFLA members and other private landowners often go out of their way to manage their lands with consideration for these social values.
Q. Why should managed forest owners get incentives? Why should we pay managed forest owners to grow trees?

Managed forests are already the best managed forest lands in BC. Only about one half of BC’s private forest lands are in the managed forest category under the Assessment Act. Government is looking for a means of encouraging other owners of private lands to enter this category. Incentives are an effective way of achieving this goal. The key to protecting forest land is to make sure it is profitable to landowners. That is conservation at no cost to the government. Incentives are needed to attract the other million hectares of BC private forest land and thousands of landowners into the Managed Forest Program and into long term forest management; and encourage existing managed forest landowners to maintain and increase their forest investments. If we do that, landowners and the public both win through more long-term jobs, more investment, more government revenue, more fibre.