Bill 88: Private Managed Forest Land Act

The former Forest Land Reserve Act  had a limited number of permitted uses for identified land within the Forest Land Reserve (land that prior to 1991 had been assessed for "forestry"). These uses included such things as: timber production, forage production for livestock and wildlife, forest or wilderness recreation, scenery and wilderness purposes, water, fisheries and wildlife, biological diversity, and cultural heritage resources. Most other extractive or urban uses were considered "non-conforming".  In exchange for loss of some land uses, and if logged or denuded land was subsequently  replanted with trees, owners received a reduced tax rate and exemption from land development bylaws of local governments that otherwise would have restricted rates of harvest.  The Private Land Forest Practices Regulation under the act further governed acceptable land management practices and had provisions for protection of fish streams, soils, and critical wildlife habitat.

Recent loosening of restrictions and the passage of  Bill 88, the Private Managed Forest Land Act do away with the old  act and regulation and many of the non-conforming uses.  All land previously in the Forest Land Reserve remains under the jurisdiction of the new legislation, which continues the exemption from local bylaws restricting forest management activities for land used principally for forestry, as defined by the Assessment Act . However, in order to maintain managed forest status, the landowner must reforest.  Landowners must also conserve soils, fish habitat, drinking water quality and critical wildlife habitat as defined by the ministry responsible for the Wildlife Act.  Land withdrawn from managed forest status is subject to an exit fee under the Assessment Act and is once again subject to local zoning bylaws.

Bill 88 empowers a new Private Managed Forest Land Council , made up of 2 members appointed by the minister and 2 appointed by landowners, to administer the act and any bylaws associated with it and to hire staff or contractors outside of the Public Service Act .  The act will come into effect by regulation, at which time the council will be empowered to enact land mgt bylaws.

Currently in BC, Privately Managed Forest, or Identified Land, comprises less than 5 percent of the provincial land base, or 920,000 hectares; two thirds of which is on Vancouver Island, primarily on the Esquimalt Nanaimo Land Grant lands.