The BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA) http://www.bccfa.ca/ has a vision of a global movement committed to culturally, ecologically and economically sustainable forestry. This vision is echoed wherever community forest programs have been developed.
The goal of all community forests is to improve human communities and to preserve biodiversity within a framework that recognizes the importance of economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Community forestry is about local people making local decisions over local lands. By keeping the management local, a community can decide the fate of their lands. For First Nations having jurisdiction over a forest has a direct link to maintaining their culture and traditional ways of life.
With sustainability a core value of community forests, people of a particular region can reap long-term economic benefits. Job creation is part of community forests as is the development of forestry skills.
Community forests can enhance the conservation of wildlife and sensitive wilderness habitat by employing innovative Ecosystem Based Management plans that consider the forest, its needs and uses, as a whole.
The Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) shares the BCCFA’s goals. One of the main goals of the CCF is to create a balance between forest harvesting and maintaining the values of the three partnering communities. For example, because of the forest’s proximity to Whistler and the role it plays in the resort’s tourism economy, providing recreational access to the forest is a CCF priority. Maintaining the many distinct ecosystems is a core commitment that is reflected within the CCF’s management strategy.
Some of other goals of the CCF include training in forest trades for members of the Lil’wat and Squamish First Nations, to increase job opportunities in forest trades for Sea-to Sky residents and to create a venue for sustainable forest practices.
To see these objectives realized, the CFF is committed to continue working with local stakeholders such as WORCA, AWARE, commercial recreation operators and the general public as it develops its harvesting and management plans.
Cheakamus Community Forest Principles
The Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) will be managed under the following principles approved in the Forest Management Plan of April, 2009:
- Forest planning and operations will follow strong Ecosystem Based Management objectives described in a jointly developed and approved Ecosystem Based Management Plan (the “EBM Plan”).
- The highest priority in management will be given to ensuring that any forest harvesting is compatible with Whistler 2020 and First Nation cultural objectives as stewards of the land.
- The Partners expect that in order to meet each Partner’s unique community and cultural objectives, the planning costs associated with operating the CCF will be higher than in other forest harvesting operations. As a result, the Partners will endeavour to conduct sufficient forest harvesting so as not to operate at a loss and to support those enhanced planning costs.
- Where possible, capacity building and First Nations and local contracting will be favoured.
- Decisions will be made by consensus where possible, recognizing both cultural and sustainability interests of the parties, with a simple and workable dispute resolution mechanism.
- Forest planning and operations will respect the land use plans of each of the parties, and the Whistler 2020 goals.
The goals in the approved Forest Management Plan (March 2009) guide the management of the CCF:
- To support the Partners’ community sustainability initiatives by ensuring that the CCF is managed in an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable manner.
- To develop an ecosystem-based management approach that will enhance forest health, habitat diversity, watershed values, public recreation, visual values, and protect public safety.
- To foster a cooperative resource management approach in the Sea to Sky corridor.
- To generate employment, especially for First Nations, by promoting additional land stewardship activities, such as managing watersheds, wildlife habitat, recreation areas and medicinal plants.
- To promote public education of sustainable ecological forest management and First Nations culture.
- To generate revenue to enhance the Community Forest.
To achieve our goals, the CCF will implement the following strategies:
Strategy #1 Remain committed to the principle of ecosystem based management.
Strategy #2 Provide public education and communication of forest activities.
Strategy # 3 Support local businesses, organizations and communities.
Strategy #4 Practice adaptive management.