The Government of British Columbia is making changes to give rural communities additional economic and land management opportunities, by allowing them to increase the size of their community forest.
Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, made the announcement today at the BC Community Forest Association AGM in Burns Lake.
“We want to make sure we’re providing a strong economic base for rural communities,” said Donaldson. “This change will help to give community forest operators more options to create local employment opportunities, and also benefit First Nations.”
A community forest is a long-term agreement to manage Crown land that may be held by a local government, community group, First Nation or community-held corporation. Rural communities and First Nations see community forests as a tool to manage the local Crown land base, to provide benefits to the residents and help support their local economies and provide long-term employment opportunities. There are 57 community forests in the province.
“We have been actively working with the provincial government to strengthen the role of people and communities in decisions around the resources they depend on for jobs and community well-being,” said Erik Leslie, president of the BC Community Forest Association. “These are welcome amendments, and are being implemented after full consultation with those affected.”
The change is as a result of amendments to the Forest Act and Community Tenures Regulation. With the change, the expansion of a community forest will be allowed, provided there is available area. Expansions of less than 100 hectares will follow a simplified process, whereas expansions of greater than 100 hectares will require a thorough process, including a management plan and community engagement.
More information on community forests in B.C. can be found online: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/forest-tenures/timber-harvesting-rights/community-forest-agreements
BC Community Forest Association website: http://bccfa.ca