Welcome to the first in a four-part series titled Managed Forest Fundamentals. If you’re reading this, you’re likely involved, interested or, at the very least, mildly curious about private forest practices in British Columbia (and we appreciate that).

PFLA knows private managed forestry inside and out (sideways, backwards, upside down)—it’s our job and we’re passionate about it. We’ve been advocates of sustainable forest management for so long now we forget not everyone is as familiar with the Managed Forest Program as we are (a shame really).

In an attempt to rectify the situation, we’re putting together a series of blog posts exploring the four fundamentals of private managed forestry:

  1. A Provincial Regulatory Model
  2. The Managed Forest Council
  3. Key Environmental Protections
  4. Incentives for Landowners

Our first post explores the provincial regulatory model established by the Private Managed Forest Land Act and hopefully clarifies how the model works and why.

What is managed forest land?

With roots as far back as the 1940’s, managed forest land is a property assessment classification designed to encourage private forest owners to manage their land for long-term forest production. Offering reduced property taxes as an incentive to encourage responsible farm and forest stewardship is a common policy tool used across North America and throughout the world. In British Columbia, forest owners commit to a high standard of forest practices and environmental protections in order to obtain the managed forest classification.

How does the regulatory model work?

As a public policy instrument, the model is essentially a partnership between forest owners and the provincial government to the benefit of all British Columbians. Landowners make investments in land and management activities, and assume the associated risks, while the province offers stability in carrying costs and forest practices regulations. The result: B.C. communities benefit from sustainable forests, healthy ecosystems and increased economic activity.

Why is forest management a matter of provincial jurisdiction?

With the shift away from the Forest Land Reserve and the removal of Schedule “A” private land from tree farm licenses, land use planning and controls transferred from the province to local communities; however, forest management, on both Crown and private land, remains a consistent provincial priority. There are a number of reasons why:

  • Municipal governments control zoning density and determine development options for land use, and because municipal governments focus on local issues their priorities are dynamic and land use rules change regularly.
  • Compared to other land use crops, forestry investments involve considerable amounts of time (decades). Policy stability is essential to successful forest management. The managed forest legislation provides a stable operating climate across the province that encourages investment in B.C.’s forests.
  • The ability to participate in the Managed Forest Program is restricted to properties that exceed 25 hectares (owners must also meet the standards set out in the Private Managed Forest Land Act). The amount of managed forest land within municipal boundaries is very small.

Why does private land have a different regulatory model than Crown land?

The Crown land regulatory model was designed to regulate practices on public land and incorporates a broader range of values (including public access) than society expects of private property owners—farmers, golf course owners, private residences, forest owners.

Farmers require flexibility to steward their land responsibly. Similarly, forest owners need the freedom to conduct forest management activities without the intensive public consultation that can occur on Crown land operations.

The Private Managed Forest Land Act creates a model that:

  • Reflects private property rights.
  • Balances environmental values with economic realities and community interests.
  • Recognizes private land is a small percentage (5.4%) of B.C.’s land base.

Thanks for reading! Let us know if you have any questions and stay tuned for Managed Forest Fundamentals—Part 2—The Managed Forest Council where we outline the structures in place to administer the Managed Forest Program.