Course:FRST370/Projects/Assessing the Impacts of Tourism on Whistler Community Forest, B.C.

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What Is Community Forestry

Community forestry is the management of an area by a local government that benefits the community in more than one way.[1] In British Columbia, the BCCFA (British Columbia Community Forestry Association) governs the community forests. Tenure agreements are granted to legal organizations that represent the community. They are granted on a 25 year basis and are renewable. The management regulations are flexible to allow a community to manage based on their needs and utility.[1] There are currently 63 community forests in BC that are using innovative co-management to serve their communities best.[1]

Cheakamus Community Forest

Cheakamus Community Forest was established in 2009, covering 33,000 hectares of land surrounding Whistler, British Columbia.[2] It is located about 2 hours North of Vancouver in the Garibaldi mountain range. Forestry began in the forests between Squamish and Pemberton around 100 years ago. There was a huge boom in the industry as technology advanced and through the building of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. [2] Between the 1970's and 1990's there was over 200 hectares of forest being harvested annually in the area. [2] This had lead to huge changes in the ecology of the forests. Since 1916, about 21% of the forested area between Squamish and Pemberton has been harvested at least once.[2]

Below is a video of the site history with regards to fire disturbance, harvesting, and urban development. [3]

Tenure arrangements

The Cheakamus Community Forest is situated on crown land between in the surrounding area of Whistler. It covers 33,000 hectares of land and has an AAC (annual allowable cut) of 20,000 cubic meters. [2] The proposal for the community forest arose when the government accessed the land and concluded the timber volume was available for tenure. [2] In April 2009, three communities came together to establish the community forest. The Lil'wat First Nations, the Squamish Nation and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (ROMW) collaborated and signed a 25 year tenure agreement. [2] These communities signed the tenure with the British Columbia government for a 25 year area based tenure, that is replaceable every 10 years. [1] In BC, ~60 million hectares of land (95% of total land) are publicly owned and managed through the government. The government manages this land for environmental, social and economic values of the province. [4] The government manages where, when and how much harvesting occurs through tenure agreements. A tenure agreement is how the government transfers temporary rights to use crown land. These tenures are typically granted to industry companies and communities and ~12 forms of tenure have been developed to best reflect the tenure holder's needs. [4] In 1912, the BC Forest Act was established, which created 'forest reserves', areas officially used for timber harvest. [4] Since then tenure agreements have been evolving to best reflect the tenure holder's needs, values and goals for the area. [4]

The land that the Cheakamus Community Forest is currently on is the traditional territory of both the Squamish Nation and the Lil'wat Nation. The two First Nations groups shared this area during the summer to harvest flora and fauna for food and medicinal uses. [5] The boundaries worked around the monumental Black Tusk Mountain, when you were in the area and could see it, you were in shared territory. Both communities benefited from the species and habitat in the valley and the trading and commerce that happened, which is why there was no fight for territory. There is a story that is told which explains this relationship and how it is so important to uphold and maintain. [5] Neither of the First Nations groups that recognize this area as their traditional territory signed a treaty with the government. [5]

Administrative arrangements

The Cheakmus Community Forest is governed by three stakeholders, Lil'wat First Nations, Squamish Nation, and Resort Municipality of Whistler (ROMW) that constitute a non-profit organization. [2] Each of these partners has equal representation and decision making on the board. [2] The representatives include Chief Bill Williams and Jeff Fisher from Squamish Nation, Chief Dean Nelson and Kerry Mehaffey from Lil'wat First Nations, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and Sue Maxwell from RMOW. [2] This organization uses co-operative management to best serve the needs of their communities. This is as per the regulations in part 2 of the Societies Act which outlines the Bylaws of BCCFA, "A corporation or organization holding or seeking a community forest including a society incorporated under the Societies Act, an association as defined in the Cooperative Association Act, an association, a trust or a partnership may apply to the directors for membership in the society and on acceptance by the directors is a member. Any organization admitted to membership in the society must authorize a person to act on behalf of the organization." [6] The regulations on meetings are outlined in part 3, "General meetings of the society must be held at the time and place, in accordance with the Societies Act, that the directors decide." [6] There are requirements on how many general meetings need to be held as well. Regulations on decision making include, "(2) When consensus cannot be achieved and an impasse is reached, it is incumbent on those not in favour of the issue to bring forward to the board, in a reasonably timely manner, a proposed alternative that he/she/they believe(s) would be acceptable to the board. If after this second meeting the impasse had not been broken, the board will then utilize the voting procedure of Roberts Rules of Order, with a 66% majority vote." which is outlined in Part 6 of the Society Act. [6] These regulations set out by the BCCFA allow all community tenure agreements to be regulated through the government and have constant structure through multiple generations of directors.

Affected Stakeholders

Due to the location of the Cheakamus Community Forest, there are a few affected stakeholders. The affected stakeholders include the Lil'wat First Nations, the Squamish Nation and the residential community of Whistler. All three of these communities have an invested interest in the protection and proper management of this forest.

Lil'wat Nation

Map of the Squamish Nation Traditional Territory

The Lil'wat Nation is a First Nations group who's traditional territory is around the north side of Whistler to Pemberton. [7] The nation has a population of 2,007 and most live on reserves. There is evidence of this nation inhabiting the area over 3,000 years ago. They travelled a traditional territory of over 800,000 hectares which was shared with other first nations communities.[7] Post colonization, the Lil'wat Nation was stripped of their land and remained with only 4% of their traditional territory.[7] In 1911, the Lil'wat Nation joined other nations in signing the Lillooet Declaration at Spences Bridge which demands the reinstatement of the rights to their traditional territory. The Lil'wat Nation is one of the 68 nations that did not sign the BC Treaty Commission and do not recognize they relinquished the right to the land.[7] This nation has participated many protests and activism stunts to ensure the protection of their land. They have been successful on many and continue to protest and gain control of their land. [7] A huge benefit of more control of their land is the opportunity to work with smaller industry companies who share core values with them. [7]

Squamish Nation

The Squamish Nation is descended from the Coastal Salish people. Along with the Lil'wat Nation, they have inhabited the area since time immemorial and they never ceded their rights to the land. [8] The modern era of the Squamish Nation began with the signing of the "Prayer of Amalgamation" in July 1923. This was signed by 16 Chiefs and declared the traditional governance of then Squamish land and people is still in effect. [8] With a population of over 3,000 about 60% live on reserves in Vancouver, North Vancouver and the municipality of Squamish. [8] The Squamish Nation is currently in negotiations with BC Treaty Commission's to begin finding a resolution. [8]

Whistler Residential Community

The Whistler residential community was establish prior to the Whistler resort. The first non-indigenous people to settle in the are immigrated in 1880. [3] By the early 1900's settlers were taking a 3 day trek up from Vancouver to come and visit Whistler, previously know as Alta Lake. [3] By the early 1960's a group of Vancouver business men aspired to make the area a world known resort and in 1966, Whistler officially opened for skiing. [3] The community has 12,000 full-time residents. [9]

Interested Outside Stakeholder

Whistler Resort

As for interested stakeholders, Whistler Resort would be one. The Whistler resort officially opened in 1966 although, the surge for it to open was driven by the Garabaldi Olympic Development Association (GODA). [3] This organization was founded buy Vancouver businessman Franz Wilhelmsen, who had an invested interest in Whistler for the Olympic Games. [3] During the early plans for this, there was still no road, electricity or water system in Whistler. By 1965, the construction for these amenities was completed and a small amount of lifts from the south side of the mountain were built. [3] Following the grand opening of Whistler, the GODA made four separate bids to host the Olympics. [3] Due to the expansion of the ski area, Lake Alta, the small community at the base of the hill, began to experience out of control growth. The government wanted to develop a control for this growth and plan for tourism of the area so in 1975, the Resort Municipality of Whistler was created as the first of its kind in Canada. [3] The development of the Whistler village began in 1977 which promoted the growth of the tourism industry. [3] As the tourism industry continued to grow, by the 1980's a bed limit had to be established to ensure sustainability. [10] This is also around the time that Intrawest bought Whistler. In 2000, after Blackcomb mountain merged with Whistler, the 52,500 bed limit was reached. In the early 2000's there was also a successful bid for the 2010 Olympic Games. [10] During this time, Whistler had become overwhelmed by the tourism industry. There was no affordable housing for residential and employee housing, and there was a huge issue with climate change. In 2005, RMOW announced the creation of Whistler 2020 which outlines the sustainability goals for the community. [10]

Vancouver 2010 Olympics

Whistler 2020 outlines the resort municipality's values, goals for sustainability, vision for the year 2020, strategies and actions. [9] A huge factor in this report was the 2010 Olympics. Whistler needed to create a sustainability guide to address the impacts of tourism during and after the games, and the environmental impacts of the games. [9] Whistler 2020 is comprised of 5 priorities which are basically the goals of the community, it also outlines 16 key strategies on how the community will reach its goals. [9] As it is currently 2018, there is strong research being done on the results of Whistler 2020 and if they have met the community goals. When looking at the corporate side, most indicators are going in a positive direction. [9] This relates to the economic growth, tourism growth, infrastructure growth and resort experience. [9] There has been a lot of positive growth in the residential community as well. This includes enriching community life, ensuring economic viability, and enhancing resort experience. The negative indicators are mostly environmental impacts, residential affordability and residential satisfaction. [9] The environmental impacts are a concern due to the fact that this is likely also impacting the community forest.


A large goal of the CCF is to promote collaborative community forestry that follows each of the partner's values. The partners all have the environmental concern in mind, and aim to do sustainable forestry practices while still promoting economic growth. [2] In the past, forestry practices in the area were not done sustainably. The AAC of the CCF is 20,000 cubic meters per year, which is 40% lower than past tenure holders. [2] From the 1970-1990's there was about 200 ha per year being harvested in the Whistler area, the Cheakamus Community Forest will be harvesting ~40 hectares per year. [2] When the community forest was established, its was the first community forest in BC to propose an Ecosystem Based Management Plan (EBM Plan). An EBM plan is a system that ensures sustainable forestry. [2] The CCF employed this plan to be progressive in a newly changing forestry industry, ensure the community values are being met, and work towards a Forest Stewardship Council Certification.[2] An EBM plan accesses the forest holistically, incorporating ecological systems, flora and fauna, and ensuring economic growth. It also incorporates the cultural values of each community.[2] Ecotrust Canada was the consultant company that put together this EBM for the Cheakamus Community Forest. [2] This plan had to access the impacts of previous logging during the 20th century. It also needed to include the impacts of fire exclusion from the past 100 years. A large factor on the area is the impacts of tourism and the exponential growth of Whistler. This could have had large impacts on the forest prior to the establishment of the community forest.[2] A community forest will benefit the area through the management utilizing traditional knowledge of the First Nations communities. Already, the CCF has created also created 831 jobs of which 25% are held by First Nations community members. [2] This is going to benefit the community forest long-term through economic growth, biodiversity and timber yield.


The relative power of the decision making is equally distributed between the RMOW, Squamish Nation and Lil'wat Nation. [2] Each partner of the community forest has 2 representatives on the board, which is a non-profit organization. [2] The Cheakamus Community Forest shares the goals of the BCCFA and aims to uphold these values. The CCF also aims to fulfill the goals of each of its partners. The Squamish Nation and Lil'wat Nation value economic growth for their communities and environmental protection. [2] One goal of these communities is to do training of forest operations and trail building. This will benefit the communities by creating new job opportunities and long term economic growth. [2] A goal of Whistler, is the long term tourism industry growth. This includes creating trails, educational aspects, and maintaining wildlife habitat. [2] The goals of each partner have so far been met and this is due to the regulations in the Society Act regulated by BCCFA. [1] The collaborative management has benefitted the community by opening up the management to different perspectives. Multiple perspectives allows for new perspectives in decision making. The CCF uses Whistler 2020, the Lil'wat Land Use Plan, and Squamish Land Use Plan as a framework to ensure all communities are being adequately understood. [2]


BC Coastal Forest

This community forest is setup extremely well. The collaborative management has benefitted the forest and community through economic growth, and environmental protection. This has benefitted the First Nations communities through jobs and the protection of their traditional territories. [2] It has benefitted the RMOW through the expansion of their available tourist attractions which ultimately improves guest experiences.[2] Based on the current collaborative management model, I recommend the CCF continue to do collaborative management. Studies have shown that collaborative management with Foresters and First Nations communities benefit the forestry industry long-term. [11] This translates in the wildlife, traditional plant, silviculture, fire risk management and ultimately timber yield. [11] These studies show that it also benefits First Nations communities long-term with economic gains through new careers. [11]

With regards to the environment, there are some recommendations that should be proposed. Whistler should reanalyze the goals of Whistler 2020 and ensure that the environmental goals are being met. Currently the goals are not being met, and the strategies to get there are not working as well as they hoped. [9] Revamping the strategies would be a good way to ensure goals are being met. Whistler could also incorporate the residential community into this aspect to ensure everyone is working toward sustainability. Another aspect to think about is tourism. Analyzing the impacts of tourism on the environment in the surrounding area, and on the community forest could benefit the CCF as well. This would allow them to understand what strategies need to be used to ensure tourists are being educated on the protection of the forest. I would also recommend all three partners of the forest advertise about the community forest. There is little advertising for it on any of the three individual websites, only on the CCF website. Community forests in BC are an extremely new concept, and these communities could be using the CCF to promote community forests around BC. This will ultimately educate individuals on the importance of forest, diversify the environments and promote economic growth throughout BC.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "British Columbia Community Forest Association".
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 "Cheakamus Community Forest".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 "Whistler Museam".
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "BC Timber Tenures" (PDF).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Squamish Lil'wat Culture Centre".
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "BCCFA Society Act" (PDF).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "Lil'wat Nation".
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Squamish Nation".
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 "RMOW".
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Gill, A. M. (2011). "Rethinking Resort Growth: Understanding Evolving Governance Strategies in Whistler, British Columbia". Journal of Sustainable Tourism.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Spies, J. (2017). "Creating Criteria and Indicators for Use in Forest Management Planning : a Case Study with Four First Nations Communities in British Columbia". University of British Columbia.

Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
This conservation resource was created by Kennedy Thomson.