The Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) is one of more than 50 community managed forests in British Columbia.
Situated on more than 30,000 hectares surrounding Whistler, BC, the Cheakamus Community Forest was established in April 2009, when the Lil’wat and Squamish First Nations and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) jointly signed a 25-year tenure with the provincial Ministry of Forests and Range. Together, these three equal partners oversee the management and operation of the forest under the auspices of the Cheakamus Community Forest Society, an independent not-for-profit organization.
The opportunity for this partnership arose when the Ministry of Forests and Range announced that through the new Community Forest program, the timber harvest volume around Whistler was available for a new tenure. Whistler and the two neighbouring First Nations negotiated a partnership based on the common belief that the people of the region, not a private timber harvesting company, should manage the forest harvesting according to their values and benefit from the forest.
The CCF engages Richmond Plywood, a worker-owned company with its Registered Professional Forester based in Whistler, as its operating contractor to carry out is mandate of responsible, innovative and sustainable forestry practices including harvesting activities that are compliant with the CCF’s Ecosystem Based Management (EBM). EBM recognizes the full array of interaction within an ecosystem, including human activities, as opposed to looking at specific issues in isolation.
Of the more than 30,000 hectares allocated for the Cheakamus Community Forest, approximately 15,000 hectares are protected through a variety of legal and voluntary mechanisms from being commercially harvested. This means that indigenous flora and fauna can flourish and recreational opportunities expand, while new sustainable forestry practices can be explored and refined. Under this management regime, an average of 40 hectares per year will be harvested. To put this into a historical perspective, from the 1970s through the 1990s an average of 200 hectares of timber were logged annually in and around Whistler. Furthermore, these commercial licensees afforded the stakeholder communities little voice when it came to the forest’s management. Today, the CCF reaches out in many ways to hear the voices of the community.
The CCF is committed to working with the local residents to discuss issues and find solutions.
Cheakamus Community Forest – part of forestry’s future.