[Botanical Forest Products Table of Contents]
Resource issues and recommendations
As the harvest of botanical forest products has increased so too hasits impact on the forest and other resources. Many issues are linked with unregulated harvest, including environmental damage to forest lands, harvesting threatened and endangered species, litter in the forest, unregulated camps, harvesting in provincial parks, conflict with timber harvesting, search and rescue of lost harvesters, fire risks caused by harvesters, and allegations of violence among harvesters.
The July 1993 draft Agroforestry report identified a wide range of issues associated with the commercial harvest of unregulated forest products. These issues are summarized in Table 14. Table 14 shows that the harvest of pine mushrooms has become a priority issue for the Ministry of Forests, with implications for timber harvesting, silvicultural treatments, forest health, fire prevention and biodiversity.
In light of these various issues, the Pine Mushroom Task Force was asked to develop a management approach for a sustainable pine mushroom industry in the province. The task force consulted extensively with industry and representatives to identify issues related to pine mushroom harvesting from the industry’s perspective. Informal interviews with harvesters, buyers and resource agency staff were carried out during fall 1993.
The issues that task force members identified related to pine mushroom harvesting can also be expanded to the commercial harvesting of many botanical forest products. In completing this botanical forest products report a wide range of people were consulted, including industry participants, Forest Service staff, First Nations people and representatives of other jurisdictions, to identify issues arising from harvesting botanical forest products. These issues (along with those of the task force) are synthesized into the following six broad categories.
Commercial harvest of botanical forest products has raised concerns about the long-term sustainability of forest ecosystems. Specifically, these concerns include:
- impact of harvesting level on species productivity
- impact of harvesting level on species gene pool
- potential forest ecosystem degradation
- cultivation and enhancement of species productivity
- increased human activity in forest ecosystem
- soil compaction and degradation
- inappropriate harvesting techniques
- fire risk potential
- identification of functions of harvested species in the forest ecosystem
- balancing of harvesting levels with biodiversity objectives
- identification of ecological research requirements
- harvest of rare and endangered species.
Multiple forest resource use
British Columbia’s forests have traditionally been viewed as sources of wood. It is becoming clear that much can be gained if forests are managed in broader consideration for all forest products. Multiple resource use has resulted in conflict among different interests. Specific concerns include:
- need for coordinated forest resource use
- conflicts with timber harvesting activities
- conflicts with silvicultural treatments such as pesticide applications
- impact of botanical forest product harvesting on wildlife and wildlife habitat
- conflict between recreational and commercial botanical forest products harvesters
- conflicts between harvesters of different botanical forest products
- conflicts between resident and non-resident harvesters, including other Canadians and foreigners
- interference with recreational or commercial wilderness experience
- impact of harvesting in provincial parks, recreation areas and ecological reserves
- conflict with First Nations’ heritage and cultural values.
Revenue to government
At present the government of British Columbia does not collect revenue from the commercial harvest of any botanical forest product. Lost revenue opportunities include:
- revenue lost to government under the current tax system in foregone income tax
- foregone royalties from botanical forest products harvesting.
Social and economic factors
The botanical forest products industry has an impact on the social and economic stability of rural areas. The industry not only offers rural communities a unique lifestyle but also may provide diversification for resource-based communities. A variety of local socio-economic concerns have arisen:
- community stability
- different priorities of local and transient botanical forest product harvesters
- costs and benefits for small businesses
- employment opportunities
- employment losses associated with restricted harvest
market development requirements.
Health and safety
Health and safety concerns in the botanical forest products industry have also arisen, including:
- camp health standards
- search and rescue demands
- survival and wilderness skills of harvesters
- enforcement of existing laws by the RCMP, conservation officers, and forest officers
- potential for violent confrontations between harvesters
- risk associated with cash transactions.
Resource agencies have identified the need for interagency coordination in areas such as scientific research and enforcement of existing legislation. Specific concerns expressed by these agencies include:
- need for interaction and cooperation among provincial government ministries, including:
- Environment, Lands and Parks
- Aboriginal Affairs
- Small Business, Tourism and Culture
- Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods
- need for interaction and cooperation among federal government departments including:
- Employment and Investment
- Health and Welfare
- Forestry Canada
- Revenue Canada
- need for interaction and cooperation of other agencies with First Nations.
The growing number of issues and conflicts associated with the commercial harvesting of botanical forest products is not acceptable. Action is needed if there is to be any resolution of these issues. The following is a set of recommendations on how the Ministry of Forests should proceed regarding botanical forest products.
- Work cooperatively with other resource agencies and stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the Pine Mushroom Task Force.
- Continue to work with other resource agencies and stakeholders in the development of a sustainable botanical forest products industry.
- Determine the costs and benefits of regulating the buyers of botanical forest products industry under the new Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act. Costs and benefits to be examined should include administrative and socio-economic ones and those associated with the forest resources.
- Undertake a socio-economic study of the botanical forest products industry to identify trends in product demand and market characteristics.