Two community forest awards, along with $10,000 grants, have been awarded to the West Boundary Community Forest for 2020 and the Westbank First Nation for 2021.
“Local governments, community groups and First Nations manage community forests for the benefit of the entire communities where they are located,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Due to COVID-19, the Robin Hood Memorial Award was not given out in 2020. So yesterday, I had the distinct honour of presenting two awards that will represent the winners of both 2020 and 2021. Both West Boundary and Westbank First Nation community forests exemplify the values of the program by looking for new ways to diversify economic interests.”
Established in 2016, the Robin Hood Memorial Award for Excellence in Community Forestry and accompanying grant are given annually to the community forest best exemplifying the values exhibited by the late Robin Hood – a British Columbia community forest pioneer – and the B.C. community-forest program. These values include innovation and leadership in land management, building and maintaining social licence and involvement with the local community and First Nations, and providing social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits to the local community and First Nations.
Honourable mentions were awarded to Nakusp Community Forest Corporation for 2020 and the Williams Lake Community Forest and Wetzin'kwa Community Forest Corporation in 2021.
West Boundary Community Forest was recognized for its strong relationship with the Osoyoos Indian Band and the extensive investments made in capacity-building activities, such as training and education. It has also been a leader in wildfire mitigation and has taken a proactive approach to mitigating the fuel in the wildland-urban interface around the community forest.
Westbank First Nation Community Forest was awarded for leadership in wildfire risk reduction and taking the lead on a planning process to develop a wildfire risk management plan for the community forest that includes a 10-kilometre buffer. It is also working closely with the community on FireSmart and wildlife hazard mitigation projects. In addition, the community forest has provided an opportunity for Westbank First Nation members studying forest management in university and college to apply their skills within their territory.
The awards were presented during the British Columbia Community Forest Association (BCCFA) annual general meeting on Oct. 22, 2021. The BCCFA is a non-profit society and advocate for community forestry in B.C. that provides input on forest policy to facilitate community forest initiatives.
“The recipients of the 2020 and 2021 awards exemplify the values that Robin Hood, past president of the BCCFA, upheld,” Jennifer Gunter, executive director, BCCFA. “These values include community leadership, providing local and social and economic opportunities, and passion for community forestry. Constantly innovating and thinking outside the box, Robin was a doer. His energy was contagious and inspired all of us working in community forestry to make things happen for the benefit of our communities.”
Community forest agreements carry an initial term of 25 years and are replaceable for another 25-year term after 10 years. They are long-term, area-based tenures designed to encourage community involvement in the management of local forests, while expanding economic opportunities and opening doors to local job creation.
- The Westbank First Nation Community Forest annual allowable cut (AAC) is 55,000 cubic metres per year. The AAC is based on an analysis of a forest’s capacity to grow trees over a 250-year time horizon.
- The Westbank First Nation Community Forest (WFN-CF) covers more than 46,000 hectares in two parcels: one directly west of the communities of West Kelowna and Peachland and the other just northwest of Big White. The WFN-CF boundaries balance forest management with traditional use by the Westbank First Nation people for hunting, trapping, food gathering and spiritual use.
- The West Boundary Community Forest Corporation is a leader in wildfire mitigation for community interface areas.
- The West Boundary Community Forest Corporation took a proactive approach to mitigating the fuel in the wildland-urban interface areas around the community forest tenure with selective prescriptions, innovative harvesting operations, fuel/pulp removal and low-production logging jobs requiring more technical approaches.
BC Community Forest Association: http://bccfa.ca
Westbank Community Forest: www.ntityixresources.com/wfn-community-forest
West Boundary Community Forest: www.westboundarycommunityforest.com
A tribute with more information about Robin Hood’s impact on the community forest program can be found on the BC Community Forest Association website: http://bccfa.ca/rip-our-beloved-robin-hood/