Proponents of the Qala-yit [Kwah-LIE-it] Community Forest are being invited to apply for a unique community forest agreement, the first community forest agreement that allows for a new form of partnership with BC Timber Sales through a reduced volume condition contained in the agreement.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations extended the invitation, today, to the Pacheedaht First Nation and Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative that form the Qala-yit Community Forest partnership.
The invitation to apply is for approximately 8,018 hectares of Crown land to be managed as a community forest. Once the allowable annual cut of the tenure is determined, BC Timber Sales will retain the rights of 7,296 cubic metres for disposition. BC Timber Sales contributed timber volume and operating area in order to make a larger tenure possible. The tenure area is comprised of five parcels of Crown land between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew: two near Gordon River, two near San Juan River and one near the Pacheedaht community.
The community forest would be the first agreement that includes a reduced volume condition under 2016 amendments to the Forest Act. The legislation, expected to be used very sparingly and only in unique circumstances, provides the Province flexibility for issuing licences in areas where there are significant competing pressures on the land base, which includes ensuring BC Timber Sales has access to sufficient timber so that it can continue its mandate of maintaining the market pricing system.
As part of the application, the Qala-yit Community Forest will need to demonstrate community awareness and support for the community forest, including building relationships and sharing information with neighbouring First Nations and area communities. The applicants will also need to submit a management plan for approval that will help determine the final allowable annual cut and timber volume. Qala-yit Community Forest now has 120 days to complete the application process.
The invitation to apply for a community forest supports the Province’s goals in the forest sector competitiveness agenda to support rural, resource-dependent communities and to build economic capacity, community opportunities and develop partnerships with First Nations in the forest sector.
Community forest agreements are long-term, area-based tenures designed to encourage community involvement in the management of local forests. A community forest is managed by a local government, community group or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –
“I am pleased to invite the Qala-yit Community Forest to apply for a community forest agreement. I expect both Lake Cowichan and the Pacheedaht First Nation to benefit from an economic boost witnessed in other community forests.”
Chief Jeff Jones, Pacheedaht First Nation –
“We appreciate the Province extending an invitation for Qala-yit Community Forest to apply for a tenure. We look forward to partnering with the Cowichan lake Co-op on this endeavour and working with BC Timber Sales, knowing that the benefits of the timber volume allocated for their disposition will still flow into our communities.”
Lorne Scheffer, chair, Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative –
“We know first-hand how much a community forest can benefit the entire community. We look forward to completing our application and having a greater voice on local forest management with our Pacheedaht partners.”
Erik Leslie, president, BC Community Forest Association –
“Community forests drive local community economic development and enable the kind of community engagement and local decision making that leads to sustainable forest management. The BC Community Forest Association is pleased to support the Qala-yit Community Forest in successfully completing their application for a community forest."
Pacheedaht First Nation: http://pacheedahtfirstnation.com
Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative: http://www.cowichanlake.ca/bus/forestcoop
Strong Past, Bright Future: A Competitiveness Agenda for British Columbia’s Forest Sector, along with the Value Added Sector Action Plan, British Columbia Pulp and Paper Sustainability: Sector Challenges and Future Opportunities, and other supporting documents, can be found at: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/competitive-forest-industry