About Community Forest Agreements
1. What is a Community Forest Agreement?
2. How is an area-based tenure different than the volume-based tenures that the major forestry companies have?
3. How do communities get a Community Forest Agreement?
4. What were the steps taken by the City of Williams Lake and the Williams Lake Indian Band to get an invitation from the Province to apply for a CFA
5. How did the candidate license areas get selected?
6. Who will benefit?
7. Will financial reports be audited?
8. Will firewood cutting be allowed on the Community Forest?
9. Will I be able to continue to fish, hunt and gather berries, mushrooms, etc. for my personal use (at no cost aside from hunting and fishing license costs)?
10. How will the values of communities that reside adjacent to or nearby the community forest be incorporated
11. What kind of logging will be used?
12. How much logging will be done annually?
13. How will Community Forest operations avoid or minimize impacts on scenic quality?
14. What will be done to preserve and protect the views around Big Lake?
15. How will domestic water supplies be addressed?
16. How will water bodies and riparian areas be managed?
17. What botanicals (Non-Timber Forest Products or NTFPs) will the WL Community Forest request to be included under the Community Forest Agreement?
18. Do Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) include grass?
19. Will there be an invasive plant (weed) management program?
20. How will the Community Forest communicate with other tenure holders in the area?
21. Will cattle grazing occur on the WL Community Forest?
22. How will the Community Forest help protect fences, cattleguards and other range developments?
23. Will contractors living in the vicinity of the Community Forest have opportunities to acquire work?
24. Will there be support for innovative community enterprises, like new value-added manufacturing and cooperatives?
A Community Forest Agreement (CFA) licenses a local government, community group, or First Nation to manage the forest resources on fixed areas of Crown forest land. In British Columbia, more communities are interested than there are licenses available. In recent years, government has committed to establishing additional agreements.
A CFA confers all the financial and legal responsibilities associated with managing public forest on the tenure holder.
See the “Links” page for additional resources.
Area-based tenures (e.g. Community Forest and Woodlot Licenses) provide the rights to harvest only within specific boundaries. This means that planners must have a long-term vision to determine sustainable timber harvest volumes that will ensure that there will always be forests within the fixed area to provide future harvesting opportunities. Harvesting is usually at a smaller scale than those on volume-based tenures and occurs at a steady pace on the same landbase. This contrasts with most timber harvesting in the B.C. Interior that is planned and carried out by forest companies who have rights to a fixed volume within very broad geographic areas. Timber harvesting on these tenures tends to occur at larger scales and intensities. Following typical harvesting conducted by major forest companies, many decades are required before harvesting can occur again in a contiguous area equivalent in size to community forests or woodlots.
The Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has the discretion and authority to invite communities to apply for a Community Forest Agreement.
Both the City of Williams Lake and the Williams Lake Indian Band expressed their interest in having a Community Forest Agreement when the pilot program started in 1999. Although neither community was successful initially, they both periodically re-stated their interest to the Minister. In 2007 the Minister invited the City of Williams Lake to apply for a Community Forest in the Central Cariboo Forest District. In 2009 the City and the Williams Lake Indian Band signed a Letter of Understanding which, in part, expressed their joint interest in Community Forestry. In 2011 the Minister amended the City’s invitation to include both communities.
The starting point was the Crown forest that overlaps the Secwepemc traditional territory and Central Cariboo Forest District. A search was made from Lac La Hache to McLeese Lake, and from the Fraser River to Wells Gray Park for areas of Crown forest that were close to where people lived (this kind of tenure is a good fit for places having social and cultural values) and could provide a viable business opportunity for sustainable forest management. At the same time these areas could not overlap with private land, leases, woodlots, BC Timber Sales operating areas, and treaty land selection. Analysis was done to assemble the management values identified in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land Use Plan, and identify appropriate species compositions and age distributions that would support the harvest volume contained in the invitation to apply. Finally, the District Manager had to be satisfied that enough but not too much area had been selected. The District Manager has now approved in principle the area selected.
Social, environmental and economic benefits are anticipated for residents of the Williams Lake Indian Band, the City of Williams Lake and neighbouring communities. Generally speaking, goods and services will be procured locally, timber will be milled, manufactured and re-manufactured by local businesses, and local values will be incorporated into resource management plans and practices.
Annually the Williams Lake Community Forest will contribute 5% of its net profit to a grant program to be made available to neighbouring communities and community groups for worthwhile projects. Distribution will be based on the guidance of the Standing Committee.
A Community Forest makes a good neighbour to people who value living in and near forested environments. As such, Community Forest Agreements (CFA) cover fixed areas (see “Area-based Tenure” above for definition). The CFA area must be managed sustainably, both in terms of the forest resources and as a business as well. To achieve resource sustainability on a given parcel of land, a community forest must have a scale of forestry activities that is much reduced compared to major licensees. Also unlike major licensees, community forests require Management Plans that, with public input, outline management objectives and methods to achieve those objectives.
Before any profits from forestry activities can be made, community forest tenure holders must ensure that there is sufficient funding to pay for obligations relating to operations, such as reforestation (planting through free-growing), road construction and maintenance, and debris disposal. The Williams Lake Community Forest will retain funds consistent with a ledger of expected future costs. The Community Forest will also need to have plans for addressing potential financial loss, especially in times of slower economic activity.
The Community Forest will follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and financial reports will be reviewed or audited as appropriate.
Firewood cutting for personal use will be allowed (normal Provincial permit required if applicable). However, commercial firewood cutting will require authority from the license holders.
Yes, and the productivity of these resources may actually be improved as a result of the style of management used on the Community Forest.
10. How will the values of communities that reside adjacent to or nearby the community forest be incorporated; i.e. clean air, water quality, wildlife habitat, ensuring a forested environment for children and grandchildren?
A Community Forest tenure is a good fit for places where people enjoy living near forests. Local residents will be consulted during the development of the Management Plan and Forest Stewardship Plans, which are specific to the Community Forest areas. A Standing Committee of the Board of Directors will be formed to provide a forum for residents, communities and resource users, and make recommendations on the management of the Community Forest. In addition, the Community Forest must comply with the Forest and Range Practices Act (and associated regulations) and Cariboo Chilcotin Land Use Plan, which set out specific requirements for the proper management of all resources. Furthermore, a rate of harvest that is sustainable in perpetuity will be set for the Community Forest. The need to operate a viable forestry operation on a fixed area over the long term means that logging will be done sustainably.
Several different approaches are expected to be used. The approaches used will depend upon the local climate, the tree species, reforestation objectives and the values to be protected. The partial cutting approach retains an overstory (tree canopy) and is particularly effective in areas of importance for visual quality, mule deer winter range, and where natural regeneration of Douglas-fir is desired (a significant portion of the proposed area). Spruce and pine forests can be managed by small clearcuts with leave-trees retained for wildlife habitat, structure, and regeneration values. The details of these approaches will be developed in the Management Plan and the Forest Stewardship Plan.
The invitation from the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is for an area that will support an Annual Allowable Cut of 40,000 cubic meters. That volume equates to about 800 truck loads of logs per year. As a comparison, that volume is less than 2% of the current allowable cut licensed to Tolko Industries Ltd. in the Williams Lake Timber Supply Area. The need to operate a viable forestry operation on a fixed area over the long term means that logging will need to be done sustainably.
The Community Forest will comply with the Cariboo Chilcotin Land Use Plan (CCLUP) and all applicable legislation. To that end, visual quality objectives within scenic and other areas will be achieved.
The scale of forestry activities on the Community Forest will tend to be smaller in comparison to the activities of the major licensees and will occur over a much longer time-frame. Having a forested environment is essential to a successful community forest.
The Visual Quality Objectives (VQO) set by the CCLUP for the viewshed in the Big Lake vicinity will be adhered to by the Community Forest (see p. 58 in http://archive.ilmb.gov.bc.ca/slrp/srmp/north/williams_lk/pdfs/Williams_Lake_SRMP_Final.pdf and http://archive.ilmb.gov.bc.ca/slrp/srmp/north/williams_lk/pdfs/map10_visual_Williams_Lake.pdf for more info about VQOs). Strategies to manage the vegetative cover of those identified areas may include planning block boundaries with organic (natural) shapes, retaining forest cover to reduce the visual impact of the harvesting, and computer-modeling the potential visual impact and adjusting plans before they are implemented.
The Community Forest acknowledges that water is vital and will uphold all laws and regulations regarding water. Licensed water intakes for domestic and irrigation use will be recognized and risks to water quality will be managed for, in forest and road management activities.
The sub-regional plan strategies associated with the Cariboo Chilcotin Land Use Plan will provide the baseline for riparian, lakeshore, and wetland management.
A community forest agreement can confer rights to the license-holder to manage and sell non-timber forest products for commercial purposes. However, to what degree the Community Forest will pursue this avenue has yet to be determined. People will continue to be able to collect NTFPs for personal use. Agreements would need to be arranged for commercial gathering of NTFPs on the WL Community Forest.
Generally speaking, the rights to utilize grasses within the Community Forest areas belong to the holders of grazing tenures in those areas. There is no intent to manage grasses as NTFPs.
The WL Community Forest will comply with the Forest & Range Practices Act, which requires a forest tenure holder to plan and conduct operations in ways that minimize the spread of invasive plants. The Community Forest will engage local ranchers and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Invasive Plant Committee on how best to manage and minimize the negative impacts of invasive plants.
The Community Forest will directly contact other tenure holders in the area (e.g. ranchers, trappers, guide-outfitters, licensed water users, and mineral tenure holders), and seek their input to the Management Plan and Forest Stewardship Plan. These plans will also be open for public review and comment before being submitted to government for approval. In addition to an open door policy where anyone can drop in and have their questions answered, there will be annual open houses and community forest days to promote communication.
Yes, ranchers with range tenures with the Province will continue to operate on the same areas as they have been. The WL Community Forest will encourage ongoing communication with range tenure holders to seek opportunities for mutual benefits from forest and range management.
The Community Forest will consult with range tenure holders to identify range developments and plan how operations can occur without negatively impacting them. If Community Forest activities cause damage to infrastructure then appropriate repairs will be carried out.
An objective is to provide contracting and employment opportunities for local residents and businesses providing they are qualified, prepared and equipped to do the work, and cost competitive. A principle of the Community Forest is to pay fair market value for goods and services. It is believed that those businesses and people who reside closest to the community forest areas will have an advantage in competitive bidding processes. Because of the scale of the Community Forest, in general, our contracts will tend to be smaller in comparison to the activities of the major licensees.
The resources that the Community Forest manages will be made available to all new and existing businesses at fair market value. In addition, the Community Forest will participate in activities that support innovation and new enterprises.
With so many different users on the landbase, an Access Plan involving local people and tenure-holders will be created to try to integrate the many ways that people use the forest as harmoniously as possible. The plan will assess the best pattern of use for existing and new roads, as well as address trail development and use. Provincially registered trail networks will be recognized. There may be temporary access closures for environmental or public safety (e.g. during active logging).