Logging of pristine BC island forest to begin in January by Brookfield Asset Management

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BC forest and Brookfield Asset Management

Brascan, which became Brookfield Asset Management, bought 635,000 acres of fee simple timberlands in BC from Weyerhaeuser in 2005 for management by its subsidiary, Island Timberlands. Weyerhaeuser bought those lands from MacMillan Bloedel in 1999. MacMillan Bloedel originally bought the Cortes Island lands from a local logger for under $30,000.

In the sale of MacMillan Bloedel to Weyerhaeuser, the provincial government imposed the condition that Weyerhaeuser negotiate in good faith with the Cortes Island community for a satisfactory solution for the island’s private forest lands. This requirement has not been met by IT.

BAM has corporate offices all over the world and a board of directors that includes Jim Pattison and a tar sands CEO. It has $110 billion in assets under management and delivered an annual return of 23% from 2000 to 2010. Following the purchase of Weyerhaeuser, BAM divided the private and public forest land assets, closed the mills, and restructured the management of private forest lands for faster harvest and more export of raw logs. 

BAM touts IT as the second largest private timber lands holding in BC and the second most valuable private timberland estate in Canada. That value is not just trees. BAM is known as a real estate management company and when IT talks to Cortes Islanders, it is often Chris Dawes, the real estate manager, who shows up.

According to naturalist and journalist Briony Penn, it is no surprise BC has become the target of global capital:

"Who could resist British Columbia, a great little banana republic on the doorstep of America that meets all those great investment criteria? Safe? For sure, there are no Zapatistas here. And cheap? Once you’ve creamed the forest off the top, you have free real estate that can be sold. Moreover, we have a provincial government that seems easily swayed by corporate investors," Penn told VO.

In fact, IT and other BC timber companies are major contributors to the Liberal Party of BC which, under Gordon Campbell, obligingly removed what little protection existed for privately managed forest lands.

Friends with benefits: multinationals and BC's Liberal government

The Provincial Government deregulated privately managed forest lands at the behest of the multinational corporations which provide huge campaign contributions.  Prior to 2002, the Assessment Act and Forest Land Reserve Act helped to reduce the impact of urban development and rural settlement on privately managed forest land. The BC Liberals repealed the FLR Act in 2002 and replaced it with the Private Managed Forest Land Act (PMFLA ) in 2004. Douglas Harris of the UBC Faculty of Law has described the act as “a highly flexible, industry‐friendly Act, which does not prohibit activity on forest land, but provides incentives to forest land owners who comply with its provisions.”

PMFLA sets out very general “objectives” for soil conservation, water quality, fish habitat, critical wildlife habitat and reforestation with no compliance review by provincial government foresters. Oversight is provided by a Council which has been criticized as too closely connected to the logging industry owners, resulting in a form of self-regulation.

Research by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, shows forest liquidation rates that have resulted in:

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