Forest Homesteading Working Group -- Originating from Vancouver Isla

David Martin docm at
Sun Feb 25 01:49:26 EST 1996

[Note to those unfamiliar with British Columbia -- Tree Farm Licenses do not 
automatically entail care of the stand.]

This is mostly a copy of a post--and--mailing for interested persons in BC, but
may apply elsewhere--and may inspire helpful comments from elsewhere.  Please 
note the distinctive tenure system we propose.

     --   --
TO: Everyone who can accept logging but not clearcutting, people who could make
good stewards of forests if they only had some; egalitarians, and even those 
who find the idea of over 10% of the population on "welfare" disgusting...

From: David Martin [of the Forest Homesteading Working Group]

re: First draft of the Working Group statement.

Somehow, though we know it's ecologically, economically, spiritually and even 
politically desirable, tenure change hasn't happened.  But perhaps now there's 
an opportunity if we mobilize some political will.  The NDP leadership 
candidates have acknowledged a need for tenure change [CBC News, 1996 01 23 04 
22: 7AM].  Meanwhile, The Forest Homesteading Working Group is expanding and 
reaching out for new members--Merv Wilkinson and Hans Scholz have signed up and
so have many able young people who aren't as well known.

Awareness of the failings of the TFL system is growing in the Alberni Valley 
and the West Coast:  Two challengers to Gerard Janssen both supported tenure 
change.  Janssen won the nomination, but while NDP membership has declined 
overall here, there are new members--mostly supporters of tenure change.  To 
challenge an incumbent for the nomination is shocking to some; but the 
political situation seems unstable for several reasons [unemployment, the fact 
that loggers realize there are only five or six years left for the present 
methods, and the bleak future for youth in the old-line forest industry.]  Two 
tenures are coming up--Woodlot 1479, about 600 acres, received bids until 
November 16 while a larger area, with estimated 40.000 m3 AAC, is for 
"community"--and we could have a chance with support from elsewhere.

What the Working Group wants to do is:

     Bring together expertise in forestry, forest ecology, community 
socioecology, woodworking, and relaed areas such as fisheries and permaculture;
and begin designing the forest communities and industries of a sustainable 

     Identify potential homesteaders and their friends and relatives who will 
support a political initiative for homestead tenures.

     Maintain communication with the most socially beneficial parts of the 
forest industry, from doormakers and custom home builders to guitar makers, and
build communciation with the general public.

     Take that political initiative...or several.  For example, compose and 
file a standing application for alternate use of every Tree Farm License that 
comes up for renewal.

     As soon as possible, have the first homesteaders out in the woods refining
their skills, demonstrating their effectivness--and enjoying good lives.

At this time we have no leaders, our largest cluster of members is still in and
around Port Alberni, and we intend to remain a network rather than a complex 
organization as long as possible.  Our basic attitude is that people are equal 
until they demonstrate otherwise, that loggers can love forests but nobody 
loves devastation, and that we should leave the earth better than we find it.

Interested people can contact docm at

     --   --   --   --

This was our Tenure proposal for Woodlot 1479.

We propose that the tenure be nonsalable but permanent and heritable, subject 
to good stewardship.  Residence should be encouraged as facilitating good 
management by making the commute to work as short and easy as possible, and 
allowing the operator maximum flexibility of time allocation:  In plain 
English, allowing the operator to step out the back door and be at work, with 
the ability to do half an hour of thinning when the rain and wind stop, and to 
see when the rain and wind stop on the site--and motivating the operator by 
acknowledging the kinship of people and land [cf. Macy, 1995; Martin, .1995, 
1988, 1983, 1982, 1981; Hammond, 1995; cf. encl.].

This is not a form of tenure for which a common name exists today.  It closely 
resembles Old Testament, Aboriginal, and yeoman European concepts of land 
relationship from before the Industrial Revolution.  We call it Homestead 
Tenure, and believe that when its nature is fully thought through, most 
resistance to homesteading will be rebutted [cf. supra, encl].

Salability on the real-estate market is the main avenue for a landholder's 
greed; and, with this unavailable, long-term tenure is in the public interest.
Cut-and-run "manage ment" of this neglected-looking site offers relatively 
little return for investment and effort.  Management for future values does 
have both ecologic and economic appeal, given assurance that the growth 
fostered by taking the worst stems now will benefit the steward who does this 
relatively underpaid work.  Development of stands of quality medium-sized and 
eventually old-mature timber, even if it be "privately owned", would benefit 
the public by making this high-quality wood abundantly available to local 

Allowing this land to house and feed 1-2 families, as well as providing them 
with income from timber sales, would constitute better "job creation" than 
requiring the operator[s] to live offsite.

[More precisely, homestead tenure and occupancy would increase the human 
carrying capacity of this land and the stewards' quality of life, above what 
can be achieved by absentee operation.  cf. Catton, Hammond, Macy, Martin, ]

4.  Government

We propose that Royalties and taxes be equal to or less than those applied to 
Tree Farm Licenses.

We propose that Restrictions on processing be equal to or less than those 
applied to Tree Farm Licenses.

     --   --   --
In our Coastal forests, restricting logging to 5-25% selections means that the 
regrowth is straight, close-ringed, and much more valuable; yet in fact more 
rather than less total production over a century or two, results.  Every tree 
germinates and grows in a forest.  Forester and homesteader Merv Wilkinson is 
probably the best known of our group, at least of today's membership.

Persons who share our aims are invited to join...I guess I am the de fcto 
secretary for now...
                         docm at

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