What Is A Community Forest?
A community forest can be described as any forestry operation managed by a local government, community group, First Nation or community-held corporation for the benefit of the entire community. Community forestry involves the three pillars of sustainable development: social, ecological, and economic sustainability. At its core, community forestry is about local control over and enjoyment of the monetary and non-monetary benefits offered by local forest resources.
Rural communities and First Nations see community forests as a tool to help support their local economies and provide long term employment opportunities. Community forests support local livelihoods, promote community participation and foster long term environmental stewardship. They encourage communication and strengthen relationships between First Nation and non-First Nation communities and individuals. They seek to promote innovation, conflict resolution and economic diversification. They provide opportunities for local training and skills-development.
Community forest agreements in BC are granted only to legal entities representing community interests. These may be a local government, an Indian Band (as defined under the Canada Indian Act), or a society, cooperative, or corporation that is community controlled and representative of community interests. They give the holder exclusive rights to harvest Crown timber on a specific land base (area based) and may grant the right to manage and charge fees for non-timber botanical products and any other prescribed forest products. Agreements are granted for a period of 25 years, replaceable every 10 years. Planning requirements are flexible enough to accommodate broadly based community objectives and allow for innovative and unconventional forest management practices.