Community forests give communities jurisdiction over their forested lands. The goals and strategies employed in each of British Columbia’s more than 50 community forests reflect the values and priorities of its managing community. The Cheakamus Community Forest is managed by a society comprised of three equal regional government partners, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Lil’wat and Squamish First Nations.
- The Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) ensures that the RMOW, Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations, not private forest operations, have control over the timber harvest and benefit from its profits.
- The CCF is able to control the way logging will occur with consideration to recreation, cultural values and sustainability goals, such as protecting viewsheds, watersheds and old growth forest.
- The CCF actively seeks community input on harvest plans through open houses and other forms of community consultation. There is now significantly more public consultation than when private companies held tenure in the area.
- Through analysis of constraints on the land base, the wood available, and discussions with the Ministry of Forests and Range, the final Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) of wood was about 40% lower than under the previous management regime.
- The Cheakamus Community Forest presents an opportunity to demonstrate the highest standards of sustainable forestry in the world given its ability to reach so many visitors to the Whistler area.
- In 2009, the CCF began an Ecosystem Based Management plan developed in consultation with Ecotrust Canada. The plan establishes a sustainable harvest level that won’t endanger sensitive habitat, destroy views or scenery and is congruent with both Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations cultural values.
- The Cheakamus Community Forest reflects the priorities outlined in the land use plans of all three partners. To learn more about these plans:– Whistler 2020– Lil’wat Land Use Plan – Xay Temixw (Sacred Land) Land Use Plan (Squamish Land Use Plan)
- The CCF is currently working toward achieving Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for the forest. The FSC has developed the only third-party forest certification system recognized worldwide by indigenous peoples, environmental groups, labour organizations and industry.
Community forests can affect long-term community economic development. Local governance leads to locally appropriate decisions and increases incentives to consider the long-range benefits of sustainable forestry management. Community forests are also opportunities for education and research and can be laboratories for testing innovative forestry practices. And lastly, the model provides an opportunity for community participation in resource management — giving us all a voice in our future.