Course:FRST370/Community Forest Management on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada

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The Sunshine Coast Community Forest is a 10,790 ha area of forest managed by Sechelt Community Projects Inc. (SCPI) on behalf of the District of Sechelt, its sole shareholder. Despite being unsuccessful at first when applying for a tenure, the District of Sechelt were able to receive a community forest agreement due to the Forest Revitalization plan, on rights to harvest in the specified plot of land. Development on the Sunshine Coast caused conflicts between First Nations of the landscape and developers, which were later resolved through the Forest Tenure Opportunity Agreement. Administrative and governance decisions are made by the Board of Directors, who are composed of volunteers and Tla’amin First Nation peoples. They serve to carry out operations in the community forest that represents the SCPI's interests.

Description

Geography

The Sunshine Coast is a regional district that lies northwest of Greater Vancouver[1]. It occupies a 3879km^2 area[1] located between the Jervis Inlet on the northwest, and Howe Sound on the southeast[2]. The Sunshine Coast Regional District includes the watersheds of the Jervis and Sechelt inlets, and the land that is draining into the outer coast along Georgia strait and the west side of Howe Sound[1]. The mountains of the Jervis Inlet and Howe Sound block off potential road connections to the rest of the province, which means the area is only accessible by sea or by air transportation[2]. 78% of the land base, which is within the Sechelt Provincial Forest (now the Sunshine Coast Community Forest), is crown land[1]. In contrast, most of the land on the lower elevations are private, non-provincial forest crown land[1]. All of the land is unceded territory belonging to the First Nations of the Province of BC[2].

Location of the Sunshine Coast Regional District

Community

As of 2016, the total population on the Sunshine Coast Regional District is 29,970[3]. Of this, 2,020 people identified as having Aboriginal identity[3]. The Sunshine Coast is the home of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw), Sechelt (shíshálh)[2] and Tla'amin (Sliammon) Nations since time immemorial. Their land is considered unceded, meaning there was no treaty was signed that would have legalized the transfer of land to provincial or federal governments[2]. Both Nations [you list 3 Nations] faced near extinction when smallpox brought by European settlers devastated the population[2]. Despite that, the Nations continue to thrive today[2]. Europeans slowly became a part of the community when they first explored the land in the 1790s. From the 1850s, settlement increased rapidly by Europeans and non-native peoples[2], with fishing and logging being two of the main occupations[2]. This established a small history of forestry on the Sunshine Coast[2]. As the population increased, settlements (communities) such as Gibsons and Sechelt were formed[2]. In the present, the Sunshine Coast underwent a change in its economy where it is now a suburban, service-based economy as opposed to its previous rural, resource-based economy[1]. This is due to people either moving into the Sunshine Coast as a retirement community, traveling to Vancouver for work, or relocating their specialized businesses to the area[1].

Tenure arrangements

The Sunshine Coast Community Forest currently holds a 25-year leasehold, renewable, Community Forest Agreement (CFA) for exclusive rights to harvest on the land.

Early Efforts

In 1997, a report found the legislative framework of forestry focused on large scale timber production and not small scale[4]. Alternatives to this approach, such as small scale forestry was recommended in order to provide ecosystem and community stability[4]. Community Forest Agreements were one of these recommendations. In 1998, the Forest Act was amended to include Community Forest Agreements (CFA)[5]. Known as the Pilot Program at first, 27 communities, including the Sunshine Coast Regional District[6], submitted applications for this agreement[5]. However, the application for the CFA was not accepted[6]. In 2003, the Forest Revitalization Plan was introduced[7][5], which aimed to reallocate 20% of volume based tenures[7] from major licensees to timber sales, First Nations and CFAs[7]. With this, the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) of the province was freed up so 33 more communities were invited to apply for CFAs. The District of Sechelt was then able to apply and have their application accepted, and was thus granted a 5 year Pilot Agreement for the District, where their tenure was evaluated[6].

Evaluation Process

The District of Sechelt was awarded 10,790ha of land and 20,000 AAC (Allowable Annual Cut) of m^3/yr[7]. The AAC refers to a maximum amount of timber allowed to be harvested on a specific area. This agreement was dubbed as the ‘Community Forest Agreement License K3F’, for the Sunshine Coast specifically[8]. During the evaluation process, an audit was performed on the Sunshine Coast by the Forest Practices Board[8]. This audit was done in order to determine the compliance of Sechelt Community Projects Inc. with its CFA[8]. First, the cutblocks harvested were examined. 11 cutblocks with a gross area of 114.5 ha were harvested, using ground-based systems[8]. Within the cutblocks, 7.5 km of roads were built for access between and into them[8]. 4.8 km of roads outside these cutblocks were also maintained[8]. These roads were examined by the audit[8]. Finally, it was determined that 11 cutblocks were replanted after harvest, 1 cutblock was brushed, 10 underwent juvenile spacing, and regeneration surveys were completed on 5 cutblocks[8].

In order to pass the evaluation process, the District of Sechelt must also be able to demonstrate their ability to fulfill certain requirements in order for them to receive a full CFA[7]. These include:

  • Formulating a detailed business plan
  • Formulating a forest management plan
  • Able to describe the governance model
  • Provide evidence of community awareness and support[7]

The District of Sechelt has devised multiple methods of achieving these requirements. The business plans and forest management plans are detailed in their management and forest stewardship plans[9][10], their legacy funds are a way to provide funding for community objectives[11], and the governance model is described on their governance policy[12].

Present Circumstances

Once the evaluation process of 5 years was complete, and Sechelt Community Projects Inc. was determined to have followed their CFA, the District of Sechelt was eligible for a full area-based tenure[13]. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development approved a 25-year renewable CFA tenure for the Sunshine Coast Community Forest[13]. It is once again controlled by Sechelt Community Projects Inc. (SCPI) on behalf of the District of Sechelt[11]. One benefit of the CFA is that it ensures local watershed management remains under the control of local owners and residents[13].

Relations with First Nations

As the Sunshine Coast Community Forest is located entirely on the traditional, unceded territory of the Sechelt (shíshálh) Nation[9], naturally they would have a say in how the community forest should be managed. Part of the forest stewardship plan and management plan devised from the CFA is to manage cultural heritage resources[9]. The SCPI does this by maintaining a close working relationship with the Sechelt peoples, through set objectives:

  • Consulting the Nation regarding strategic management of forest resources
  • Providing site‐specific operational information to the Nations for review and comment
  • Consulting the Nation for identification and management of cultural heritage values within the community forest.
  • Consulting the Nation to discuss aspects of planned operations or to conduct assessments of cutblocks.
  • Encouraging the Nation to provide information on cultural heritage resources to improve planning.[9]

While there have been no specific cultural heritage resources found as of 2018 that needed to be managed[10], the potential for discovery is recognized and the Sechelt Nation will be consulted when a finding does happen[10]. In addition to consulting the Nation for cultural heritage information, the SCPI also strives to allow the Nation to conduct traditional activities within the tenure land, at no cost[10]. The Sechelt Nation would not be charged for the collection and/or usage of non-timber forest products for the purpose of traditional activities[10].

Administrative arrangements

The administrative arrangements are managed by the Board of Directors.

Administrative Responsibilities

The Board of Directors represent the interests of the SCPI and strive to achieve their goals by any means necessary[12]. The main objectives of the Board is to provide a strong framework for governance[12]. In order to provide a direction of governance and guidance of the corporation, the Board of Directors have responsibilities to achieve this. Some examples include:

  • Creating business objectives, articles and policies for the company that provides for the needs of the corporation
  • Defining the responsibilities of and assessing the performance of management.
  • Encouraging a strategic planning process
  • Maintaining communication between the corporation and other stakeholders[12]

Community Management and Reporting Systems

The Board of Directors can establish committees to fix certain issues that may arise in the community. In these committees, there must be at least 3 directors, and they must elect their own Chair from within[14]. The committee must gather for a meeting at the call of the Chair, and the Chair must report back to the board of directors whenever the committee makes a decision or a declaration relating to the issues they are trying to solve[14]. Outside of the committees, the District of Sechelt has implemented a complaint policy for the community as a reporting system[14]. Complaints are first told to the office Administrator[14]. If the problem persists, it is brought to the attention of the Operations Manager[14]. Should the problem still persist, it is brought to the Chair/President of the Board of Directors[14]. This is only when an issue involves the Board itself, the policies of the community forest, or when it is deemed necessary by either the person filing the complaint or the office Administrator[14].

Stakeholders

History

Puente colgante sobre el cañón Lynn, Vancouver, Canadá, 2017-08-14, DD 10.jpg

There were tensions between the First Nations and the development and construction of Desolation Sound. The cohesion of post colonial and subaltern theories are the tone and way of exploring this case study. Integral to this publication is the continued emphasis on attempted erasure of any Indigenous land rights and cultural interests.

  • Power relationship dynamics between competing stakeholders
  • Ecotourism
  • Logging lease disputes
  • Parks Canada
  • Private property vs. reserve land
  • Degradation of culturally significant areas

Environmental concerns for the area on a long term scale in regards to these industries and development are outlined. In addition to the cultural significance and contentions on rights and title and who holds the right to where and for how long. The Tla’amin (Sliammon) peoples continue to practice hunting, fishing, and gathering in this area. Private property, logging leases, polluted resources, and parks have however made this more difficult. The reduction of reserve land has also made the conflicts of this area more contentious. The 1875 decision of the provincial-federal Indian Reserves Commission sought to settle the “Indian land question”. Enforcement was not possible at this time. Reserve land was allocated shortly after this decision in 1879. Between 1910-1915 Tla’amin (Sliammon) people were removed from what is now the site of a paper saw mill, further separating the ancestral people from their traditional territory in the pursuit of development. Development was performed on what was thought as uninhabitable or underdeveloped areas. The Tla’amin subsistence and economic strategies to work with the land was not understood by newcomers to the area. Largely upper and middle class demographics that enjoyed the area for leisure and boating (early ecotourism) Settler-Conservationists superseded many traditional seafood harvesting areas. MacDonald, K. (2020)

“The Sliammon's treaty with Canada and the province, passed in July 20 1 2, guarantees the Sliammon with legal and political rights that include law-making authority over forest management and environmental protection on treaty land. They will have the future option to buy two Crown lots adjacent to Desolation Sound Marine Park and surrounding Indian Reserve 6 and activities within the park that include hunting and gathering will continue to be allowed and are to be built into provincial park management plans”..........”Treaty [will give] us huge forest tenures, shellfish tenures, [and] exclusive beaches again where people feel comfortable going. Just the ability to feel comfortable on your land knowing you're not trespassing on someone's is a massive [beneficial] mindset.'79 Many Sliammon believe treaty will be empowering because they would be able to both create their own laws and have revenue coming back to the lands department, which in turn could be used to protect aspects of the environment important” MacDonald, K. (2020)

Frontier myth ideologies equates Indigenous people with the wilderness, therefore erasing the Aboriginal presence from popular consciousness entirely. A resolution that agreed to a consultation process agreement, as well as Tla’amin Nations interests and/or impacts would be considered and not infringed on. Archaeology is being used alongside land claim decisions, disputes, and development proposals.  

Stakeholders and Rights Holders - A History of Conflict

Sliammon Totem Pole

The Sunshine Coast Regional District is a collective of local village and area Water Board representatives. Formally the group advocated for local government control and opposition to logging activities by forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel in the Chapman Creek watershed. While also maintaining a position against other logging proposals ventures in Sunshine Coast and community drinking watersheds concerns.

The 1990s witnessed an intense, extended and pitched battle by SCRD residents, activists and politicians to put an end to the logging to protect the two sources of drinking water, the Chapman and Gray Creek (Category 2) Watershed Reserves (Gray Creek became a Reserve in 1987). These disputes occurred during a series of formal public planning proceedings in regards to the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP). The disputes occurred from 1990-1998.

November 1992 The SCRD’s Supreme Court injunction application stated that the Ministry of Forests’ extreme mismanagement of the reserves was postponed due to negotiations with the government and Interfor. May 20, 1993, the SCRD took a renewed interest in the injunction after Interfor gave notice of a logging proposal in the Chapman watershed. June 8th, the SCRD threatened the injunction again, and more out-of-court discussions continued. The June 21, 1993 injunction argued for an out-of-court agreement that indicated a 15-hectare cutblock in the lower Chapman watershed, that would be logged in return for preservation of a “significant portion” of the upper Tetrahedron Plateau. Interior agreed not to pursue any new cut blocks in the watershed until after a new management plan is completed”. Koop, W. (2008).

Stakeholders to be considered include:

  • Tla’amin Nation - Chief and Council
  • Her Majesty the Queen as represented by the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
  • CFA

Discussion

Aims and intentions

Parties signed and agreed to a Transformative Change Accord that outlined a government to government relationship and partnership to ensure mutual respect, recognition, and accommodation of Aboriginal rights and title. In pursuit of closing the social and economic gaps in First Nations communities. Tla’amin Nation has Aboriginal interests within its traditional territory. As well as interests in pursuing economic, social, and cultural development.

Map of Tla’amin tribal territory

Relative Power

Forest Tenure Opportunity Agreement: an agreement signed between the Minister of Forests and a First Nation that provides for the Minister to direct award forest tenure under the Forest Act. The parties agree that the consultation with respect to the impacts of the Tla’amin Nation interests. Tla’amin Nation agrees the British Columbia may share the map of the Traditional Territory. Parties agree that in the event that Tla’amin Nation enters into a SEA, or R.A with British Columbia after the Effective Date which includes a consultation process which addresses forest and range management and decision making.

The consultation set out in the said agreement will reflect that SEA, and RA supersedes or replaces the consultation process as stated in the agreement. However, if SEA or RA terminates the agreement prior to the end of term, parties agree that the consultation process set out in the agreement (Appendix B), will thereafter apply for the remainder of said term. Tla’amin Nation agrees that the Revenue Sharing contributions made under the agreement (section 3.0) acknowledge and agree that impacts on Tla’amin Nation Aboriginal Interests (operational decisions administrative decisions within the First Nation Traditional Territory.)

At the end of each fiscal year, the Tla’amin Nation or a designate will review and update the statement of community priorities identified in section 6.11 as outlined in the updated Revenue Sharing Contribution described in section 3.5. MacDonald, K. (2020)

British Columbia and The Crown, maintain the right to its sole discretion and may exercise reasonably acquire an audit of expenditures. This agreement shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with provincial and federal law. Although this agreement does not replace or replicate a treaty, lands claim agreement, either does it amend or define Aboriginal rights and title.

Assessment of Governance

Governance within The Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF) is mainly based on a consensus-based decision-making process[15]. The community and stakeholders play a large part in the decision-making in what occurs in the forest. Consensus-based decision-making allows plans to be made according to the goals and values of the community[15]. The main group of social actors are the community members themselves. The majority of community members are part of the  Tla’amin First Nation (the first nations in this area).[11] The Tla’amin Nation has a large role to play in the decision-making process as the unceded territory is where the CFA is placed upon. Importantly, the Tla’amin Nation community takes part in decision-making and directs the CFA following their values and goals.

The Board of Directors consists of volunteers in the community who contribute their time to ensure the CFA standards are met (mainly from the Tla’amin First Nation)[12]. The Board of Directors manage the meetings while being open to public conversation. Moreover, the broad-based public involvement allows the community members to take part in governance while having an input on current plans[10]. The Board of Directors hold more power than the average community member as they create policies, articles, and objectives for the overall community forest[12]. The Board of Directors are also the main actors who communicate between corporations and other stakeholders, ensuring goals of the community forestry agreement are met.

Broad-based public involvement, in addition to consensus-based decision-making, allows governance power to be relatively distributed amongst the community and stakeholders.[12] The social actors within The Sunshine Coast CFA are mainly the community members. The community in The Sunshine Coast CFA play a large role in affecting the decisions that the Board of Directors establish.[12]

Recommendations

Regarding the community member involvement in the decision-making process for the overall health of the forest. A possible recommendation to be considered is the application of modern scientific and professional input. The practicality of airborne LiDar in identifying Ecosystem Services (ES) of The Sunshine Coast region is effective for mapping various ES brought by the forest.[16] The advantage of mapping the area for ES allows the community to identify which areas of the forest are sensitive to logging operation in addition to areas that are wanted for conservation.[16] Moreover, the LiDar technology can also map which areas are profitable or disadvantageous for logging based on Diameter at Breast Height (DBH), volume, height and age of trees. Overall, LiDar can have multiple uses besides from mapping out the area; efficient use of the forest can also benefit the overall health of the forest in addition to costs of logging operations [16][15]. We recommend that The Sunshine Coast Community Forest Association include the use of LiDar in their surveys to ensure the health of the forest. Moreover, Ecosystem benefits can also be visualized with the use of LiDar, making LiDar a valuable resources [16].

The necessity for forest professionals and ecological scientists cannot be understated. With discovery of new technology and understanding of ecosystem complexity, governance must also evolve to accommodate new information[15]. Mentioned previously, forest operations severely damaged the Chapmad Watershed Reserves, affecting the major source of drinking water for the community. [17]The understanding of ecosystems has become increasingly more complex and important, especially in forestry. As a result, another one of our recommendation for The Sunshine Coast CF is to include environmental professionals to ensure that the ecosystem is not harmed by logging operations which will ultimately harm the community.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 McMullen, M.E. (1994). Regional conservation planning strategies for British Columbia: the case of the Sunshine coast (T). University of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0087409
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Sunshine Coast and Museum Archives. Sunshine Coast. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.sunshinecoastmuseum.ca/sunshine-coast.html
  3. 3.0 3.1 "2016 Census of Sunshine Coast, Regional district [Census division], British Columbia and British Columbia [Province]". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mitchell-Banks, P. J. (1999). Tenure arrangements for facilitating community forestry in British Columbia (T). University of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0075325
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Gunter, J. (2021). British Columbia Community Forestry Association (BCCFA), Canada: challenges, successes and lessons learned. In J. Bulkan, J. Palmer, A. M. Larson, & M. Hobley (Eds.), Handbook on Community Forestry. Routledge.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Sunshine Coast Community Forest. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.sccf.ca/who-we-are/history
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Ambus, L. and S. Tyler. (2007). Big expectations for small forest tenures in British Columbia. Journal of Ecosystems and Management 8(2): 46-57.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 "Audit of Forest Planning and Practices" (PDF). Forest Practices Board. 2012.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Sunshine Coast Community Forest. (2018). Forest Stewardship Plan. Retrieved from http://www.sccf.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/SCPI-Forest-Stewardship-Plan-2018-Final-Optimized.pdf
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Sunshine Coast Community Forest. (2018). Management Plan. Retrieved from http://www.sccf.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Forest-Management-Plan-Amendment-3-.pdf
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 District of Sechelt. Community Forest. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.sechelt.ca/Contact-Us/Have-Your-Say-Sechelt/Community-Forest
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 Sunshine Coast Community Forest. (2019). Corporate Governance Policy. Retrieved from http://www.sccf.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Governance-Policy.pdf
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 BC Local News. Sunshine Coast Community Forest receives 25-year tenure agreement. (2011). Retrieved from: https://www.bclocalnews.com/business/sunshine-coast-community-forest-receives-25-year-tenure-agreement/
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Sunshine Coast Community Forest. (2019). Complaint Policy. Retrieved from http://www.sccf.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Complaint-Policy.pdf
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Shay, H. M. (2003). Institutional arrangements for improved governance of community watersheds on the Sunshine Coast of B.C. (T). University of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0091273
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Yuill, A. (2016). Using airborne laser scanning to assist in substantial forest management decisions for Sechelt’s community forest on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast (T). University of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/ubctheses/24/items/1.0319250
  17. Koop, W. (2008, May 20). "The Community" Trojan Horse The Sunshine Coast Community Forest Proposal and Probationary License in Two Watershed Reserves. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from http://www.bctwa.org/TrojanHorse-May20-08.pdf


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