What are the benefits of Cheakamus Community Forest?
Community forests give communities significant jurisdiction over their forested lands. The goals and strategies employed in each of British Columbia’s more than 60 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 Nation and Squamish Nation.
- The Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) ensures that the RMOW, Squamish and Lil’wat 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 Province, the final Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) of wood was approximately half of the standard provincial forest management approach.
- The Cheakamus Community Forest presents an opportunity to demonstrate high standards of sustainable forestry given its ability to reach so many visitors to the Whistler area.
- The CCF is managed through 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 Nations’ cultural values.
- The Cheakamus Community Forest reflects the priorities outlined in the land use plans of all three partners.
- The CCF partners with the RMOW to carry out wildfire fuel thinning projects along forestry roads that are building a series of fuel breaks to protect the community during a wildfire.
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.