Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

Fort Nelson Community Forest Partnership

Local Forests - Local People - Local Decisions

On May 17, 2018 an Open House was held at the Phoenix Theatre to provide an update on the most recent steps in the preparation of the Community Forest Agreement application. Most recently the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development approved the proposed CFA boundaries.

Fort Nelson Community Forest Agreement Application & Management Plan No. 1 (v4)

 

What is a Community Forest Agreement?

The Community Forest Application Process

      1. Community Engagement Strategy
      2. Limited Partnership Agreement
      3. Community Forest Area Selection

Key Community Forest Application Milestones

 

What is a Community Forest Agreement?

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. Of the Community Forests in BC nearly half are operated by First Nations or by partnerships between First Nations and neighbouring non-indigenous communities.

The 400 ha Demonstration Forest in Fort Nelson is not a Community Forest. The Demonstration Forest is more of a recreational site with walking and cross country ski trails with a secondary purpose to offer interpretive forest trail signs (The Forest Trail (1 km) and The Silviculture Trail (3.2 km)) in limited parts of the site.

A Community Forest is a “working forest” with all the aspects involved in such an enterprise including forest planning, harvesting, timber sales, and silviculture. At its core, Community Forestry is about local control over and enjoyment of the monetary and non-monetary benefits offered by local forest resources. It involves the three pillars of sustainable development: social, ecological and economic sustainability.

On February 10, 2017 a joint request was made by the Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) to the Honourable Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO), for an invitation to apply for a Community Forest Agreement (CFA). A quote from the letter to Minister Thomson is as follows:

“The NRRM and the FNFN are excited to be working together on this project. This is a very challenging time for our respective communities. A locally based Community Forest will provide a strong, direct economic tie between us, and to the surrounding forest land base. We believe that it will contribute to building a more resilient, sustainable regional economy and greater security for those who call this place “home.”

Minister Thomson replied on March 17, 2017 stating “Under the authority of Section 43.51(1)(b) of the Forest Act and in accordance with Section 6 of the Community Tenures Regulation, I hereby invite an application for a CFA from a partnership between the FNFN and NRRM”. A number of conditions were applied to the offer. Some of these were as follows:

        1. The CFA would be for a term of 25 years and with 185,000 m3/year of Allowable Annual Cut (AAC);
        2. The land base must support an AAC that reflects the timber supply profile of the Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area, i.e. 54% deciduous and 46% conifer;
        3. The coniferous leading component of the AAC should be no more than 100,000 m3/year; and
        4. The invitation to apply for a CFA is valid for a period of 365 days after receipt of the Minister’s invitation.

The Community Forest Application Process

The Community Forest Application Process can take upwards of two years to complete. It is a lengthy, deliberate process with a number of priority actions being initiated. The key ones are as follows:

1.       Community Engagement Strategy

The Community Engagement Strategy (CES) is meant to keep both the NRRM Regional Council and the FNFN Council fully aware of the progress being made to achieve the successful submission of the CFA to the Province by February 2018. In addition, the CES is meant to make both partnership communities fully aware of the Community Forest initiative. The partnership must be able to demonstrate community awareness and support for the Community Forest in the final CFA package.

 2.       Limited Partnership Agreement

A Limited Partnership Agreement (LPA) has been identified as the best legal structure to support a joint Community Forest partnership between the Regional Municipality and FNFN. The legal representatives of the NRRM and FNFN are developing a customized LPA for the partnership.

 3.       Community Forest Area Selection

Community Forests in BC are “area based” tenures. Most Community Forests tend to be in close proximity to the licensee whether that be a district, a town, or a First Nation community. This will not be the case with the Fort Nelson Community Forest (FNCF). The forest landscape of the Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area (TSA) is a fragmented mix of non-productive areas, uneconomic areas and mixtures of forest types. This will mean that the NRCF will not be one contiguous area close to Fort Nelson, but a number of forested areas (polygons) within a 100 km distance of Fort Nelson and close to existing roads or access points. This is to ensure that the Community Forest is operationally and economically viable. In addition, existing stakeholders and interests in the forest areas identified must be part of a very comprehensive engagement process. These stakeholders and interests include trap line operators, existing tenure holders such BC Timber Sales and Canfor, as well as Provincially established Boreal Caribou core areas.

Key Community Forest Application Milestones

Key milestones and targeted dates for the Community Forest Application are as follows:

      1. Community meetings (October  2017)
      2. Consultation on draft Management and Business Plans (January 2018)
      3. CFA tenure/boundary selection submitted to MFLNRORD District Manager (November 2017)
      4. NRRM/FNFN Technical Team submit request for 180-day extension of application deadline to MFLRORD (January 2018)
      5. Finalization of Limited Partnership Agreement: reviewed and approved by NRRM and FNFN Councils
      6. Submission of final Community Forest Application package
      7. Ministerial decision based on recommendation of Regional Executive Director
      8. Regional Executive Director offers CFA license to partners as directed by Minister with license conditions discussed and agreed to by partners
      9. CFA Issuance - Regional Executive Director issues CFA, approves Management Plan and sets Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) 

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