Documentation:Open Case Studies/FRST522/Progression of Community Forest Agreements in British Columbia through Social and Political Pathways: A sudy on the history of CFAs with context from a specific coastal case

From UBC Wiki

This wiki page is dedicated to the understanding of Community Forest Agreements in Canada: their history, founding philosophies and current governance actors. Some context is provided through analyzing a specific case of tenure negotiations of the Klahoose First Nation, which resulted in exclusive use rights to the First Nation on a portion of their customary land.

Community Forestry: How it came to be and why?

Community forestry has conceptually, and in practice, existed globally for centuries. State-recognized management structures with community forestry components have been increasingly present and important since the 1970’s[1]. Rural and indigenous communities are often viewed with judgment for their supposed ignorance of the ecological implications of their natural resource use; this is exacerbated by state-imposed property systems that often disincentivize conservation and long-term management strategies[2]. However, it is often the time-, and space-specific knowledge of local communities and individuals that make them excellent natural resource managers[2].

The misconception of rural community as an antonym for progress has led forest management to represent and serve the objectives of government and state-institutions, rather than local and indigenous people for most of modern history[2]. Agrawal et al (1999) call for the “decentralization, meaningful participation, cultural autonomy and conservation” through community participation in natural resource decision-making[2]. What better representation of these components than a tenure system that supports the “sustainable use and environmental protection [that] intersects with ethical concerns for human rights and social justice and with local interests in improved livelihoods” (p. 11)[1]. This is the working definition of Community-based forest management that best represents the objectives of the Community Forestry Agreement in British Columbia.

In Canada, it has been the combined effect of the social perception of mis-management from state institutions (BC Ministry of Forests, at the time), and the general criticism of the forestry industry’s priority of economic development that has increased the salience of an alternative management system that better serves the people[3]. According to Beckley (1998), institutional models like those supported by community forestry provide an opportunity to “maximize benefits of forest values to a different and usually wider range of stakeholders while simultaneously serving as mechanisms to reduce conflict between stakeholders” (p.736)[3]; which is to say that community forestry enables a more broad array of objectives that represent more “sustainable and equitable outcomes” (p. 633)[2], serving multiple actors, rather than state or governmental groups.

Achieving simultaneous objectives is a difficult feat, however given the importance of environmental sustainability and protection, British Columbia’s updated Forest Practices Code (1995) represented the global movement towards environmental preservation through improved governmental policy. According to Hayter (2008)[4], the 1995 revamp of the Forest Practices Code included reduced cut-block size, riparian protection and transparency in the permitting process, requiring public input for cutting permits. It is clear that complex objectives are often the result of clear public opposition to governmental actions. This was especially evident in the “War in the Woods” of Clayquot Sound, recounted by Tindall's (2013) writing in a twenty-year anniversary article[5]. It was this event of civil disobedience that paved the way for locals to protest the mis-management of their government in BC. Approximately 850 people were arrested during that 1993 protest, marking it the largest civil disobedience event in Canadian history. The early 90’s proved productive for ENGO’s, and environmentally conscientious citizens. The result of the “War in the Woods” was considerable strain on BC politics, and the establishment of the first First Nation-owned forestry company in BC (besides the unique North Cowichan Municipal Forest program[6]: the Iisaak.)

The media coverage and outcome of the protests also provided a platform for women to express their disapproval of the current governmental structure, which clearly did not serve the people of the province or the environment on which they depended. The celebrated founders of the campaign were praised for their powerful and successful event, leading to an emergence of “strong female environmental leaders” (p. 3[6]). This was perhaps a contributing factor to the increase in female enrolment in environmentally-related university programs in the following years. Environmentalists learned from this opportunity; applying the fact that rallying for support internationally can be an effective tool for governmental persuasion to other causes. The involvement of ENGO’s, providing resources and media coverage enabled a broad audience to which this event was exposed.   

As the salience of environmental stewardship in BC increased in the late 80s and 90s, the provincial government took action. Based on the democratic political structure of BC, the approval of the public is one of the most important concepts for elected public servants. In 1994, the government answered the calls of the public for more integrated, multi-objective forest land management[3]. The result was the introduction of a new tenure form for forestry: British Columbia’s Community Forest Agreement.

Forest Tenure in British Columbia

Of the 95 million hectares of land that makes up BC, nearly 60 million of them are forested – 95% of which is considered Crown or public land. Crown land is considered public land because theoretically, it is managed for the welfare of British Columbian citizens by the provincial government. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLRORD) is the Executive body that is responsible for the management of public lands; they authorize the use of public lands for natural resource uses, including logging, mining and grazing cattle[7].

The authorization for use of public lands for economic development is granted through legal agreements approved by the Ministry that have both temporal and spatial boundaries; these agreements are called tenures. Fifteen different tenures types are granted for timber development in BC to individuals, companies, communities and First Nations. These 15 different tenures differ in three main categories: area or volume-based, duration, and key responsibilities[7].

Within those categories, a tenure may be area-based (which means that the tenure holder has virtually exclusive use-rights within a specific area), or volume-based (which means the tenure holder may cut up to a certain volume of wood – measured in cubic metres – within a specific Timber Supply Area). Duration varies greatly in time and replaceability; tenures range from 1 year (for example, some Community Salvage Licenses), to 99 years (Some Community Forestry Agreements, and First Nations Woodland Licenses), while some tenure types are replaceable, and others aren’t. Replaceability refers to the ability for longer-term tenure agreements to be updated or replaced every 5 or 10 years. This enables the licenses to stay current, reflecting the most recent and accurate science and legislation. Finally, the responsibilities differ in terms of the extent for which the temporal and spatial scales are managed. Some tenures require only operational planning, which involves pre-harvest plans to be approved by a Registered Professional Forester, whereas other tenure types require strategic planning which accounts for larger-scale planning, managing for long-term sustainable benefits while preserving ecosystem function [8][7].

Community Forest Agreements (CFAs) in BC represent the long-term, more strategic objectives in forestry. Not only can they serve short-term economic benefits to a community, but they can also enable sustainable community welfare based on long-term social objectives that focus on ecological protection in conjunction with economic sustenance[9]

Community Forest Agreements: An example of BC forest tenure.

Timeline of Community Forestry in BC[6]

Year Description
1945: Gordon Sloan (first Royal Sloan Comission): recommends that municipalities manage local forests => Mission Municipal forest
1956: Second Royal Comission
1976: Peter Pearse supports expanding community forests in BC: “Local governments that are prepared to integrate their lands with surrounding Crown forest land is one attractive possibility. The sensitive balance between timber production, recreation, and other non-commercial forest uses that are particularly valuable close to centres of population can in these cases be struck locally, making resource management highly responsive to local demands”
1979: Forest Act renewed
1993: Revelstoke purchases a TFL
1993: “War in the Woods” in Clayquot Sound
1994: Forest Practices Code of BC Act passes legislature
1997: Community Forest Advisory Committee (CFAC) established
1998: Community Forest Agreement tenure was authorized by Minister
1999: 7 CFA pilot projects are approved
2000: 10 pilots were granted and 18 announced for the future
2002: British Columbia Community Forest Association is established
2002: Forest and Range Practices Act[10] passes legilature
2003: Forest Revitalization Act is enacted
2005: 11 CFAs = almost 300, 000 ha of Crown land. 15 pending CFA applications
2008: No probation period for CFA holders = full long-term planning capacity

Congruent with the global trend for decentralization in land management decision-making in the 1990’s, the provincial government of British Columbia established Community Forest Agreements to serve a variety of objectives [11]. These objectives informed more socially and environmentally sustainable forestry practices[2]. Building on the philosophies represented by the Sloan Commission and Pearse’s 1976 commission that followed, area was finally set aside in 1997 for community-operated forest licenses by the Ministry of Forests[12]. Having already implemented various “basic principles of community forests” (p. 714)[13] in British Columbia by the early 90’s, community forestry was ready for its emergence in BC. The pilot program was written in legislation in 1998, establishing the new tenure type in BC by amending the legally-binding Forest Act to include Community Forest Agreements as legal tenures[12].

Following the pilot’s establishment in 1998, public interest in the new tenure type was evident. Support for local decision-making had been growing simultaneously (and not coincidentally) with the declining trust of governmental decision making that promoted industrial forestry on BC’s public forests[11]. With this possibility of increased public participation, the popularity of the new tenure immediately began its growth[11][12][14].

By 2001, over eighty communities had shown interest in BC’s new tenure form, twenty-seven of whom had completed full tenure applications. The top ten of these applicants were granted tenure to establish sites for their new pilot project. With a five-year probationary period, these ten communities joined the multiple others in BC who were already managing “traditional forest tenures with a community forestry mandate” (p. 150[12]): for example the North Cowichan community – since the 1960’s, and the Mission Municipal forest established in the 1940’s following Sloan’s Royal Comission (Private Forest Landowners Association, 2011; Sloan, 1945). It seemed that local decision making, local values and local benefits were being recognized as valuable components of forest tenure [12][15].

The year after the pilot project was fully functional, the British Columbia Community Forest Association (BCCFA) was established; this association acted as an advocacy and support group that aimed to influence government and society, alike, ensuring the CFA tenures viability and support in BC. In 2003, the Forest Revitalization Act was introduced. This act enabled more area and more volume to be allocated to Community Forest Agreements, which brought forth thirty-three additional invitations to communities to participate in this tenure. Six years after the Forest Revitalization Act was introduced, the advocacy of the BCCFA had finally paid off. Their efforts contributed directly to the government’s abandonment of the five-year probationary period on CFAs. This enabled better investment incentive for long-term planning and business decisions, ensuring that the CFA tenure became a securable long-term and replaceable license[12].

Actors involved with Community Forest Agreements in BC.

In BC, there is almost always more than one actor interested in the development or protection of a forested area. There are First Nations with inherent, customary rights on whose unceded, ancestral and traditional territory these actions may take place. Additionally, there may be private land owners who have contingent rights through private property designations. Finally, the Crown land on which the majority of forest development and protection occurs managed for the public; the citizens of BC therefore own the land, and the government manages it for their welfare. McCarthy states that the introduction of Community Forest Agreements in BC “exemplifies widespread dynamics of changing environmental governance, particularly the growing role of nonstate [sic] actors” (p.84)[14]. The administrative actors of forested land in BC are mostly related to the state (government) in some respect, but the fact that decision-making for forested land under CFA tenures is largely based on community input fully represents this decentralization of power that McCarthy alludes to, and that Agrawal and Gibson state clearly[2].

Whenever there is forestry taking place on Crown land, there are many actors that have some influence, either directly or indirectly, on the success or nature of the development. Some of these actors may be involved socially, and they may either benefit from development or incur costs of some kind. Typical social actors involving BC’s forests include First Nations, local communities, environmental non-governmental organizations, and finally, the citizens of BC. The administrative actors, on the other hand, are always involved. Those that are typically involved in Community Forest development on Crown land in BC are: the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural resource operations (BCFLNRORD), British Columbia Forest Practices Board (BCFPB), Association of British Columbia Forestry Professionals (ABCFP) and the British Columbia Community Forest Association (BCCFA). These actors and their decision-making or power capacity will be discussed in the following subsections.

Administrative Actors.

Legislation that informs regulation of forested land in BC is provided by the combination of the Forest Practices Code of BC Act (FPC), and the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA)[8]. These statutes were established, and are updated periodically, by the governmental branch that is now titled the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNRORD, formerly referred to with other titles) [10]. It is this legislative body of the provincial government that represents state-level decision making and power. MFLNRORD is responsible for the management of all Crown (public) land in BC – which accounts for approximately 96% of BC’s land - and does so on behalf of its citizens[16]. Forestry is one of the many land-uses for which the regulation and legislation is determined and enforced by the MFLNRORD.

The ministry is responsible for introducing legally-binding legislation in the forms of statutes that are protected by provincial law. Such documents include the historical Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act, and its updated version, the Forest and Range Practices Act[16]. These acts exist to inform forest and range practices to best maintain the natural environment that forestry and farming depend on, while balancing viable regulation that promotes the economic development of those industries[8].

These two land regulation acts are legislation that is required knowledge of any practicing Registered Professional Forester (RPF); that is stated under the Forester’s Act (BCMFLNRO, 2003). The Association of British Columbia Forest Professionals is responsible for certifying capable and ideal candidates to fill any RPF position. It is also the responsibility of the ABCFP to ensure the success of the Forester’s Act through proper management and regulation executed by the association’s certified professionals[17].

The BC Forest Practices Board is an independent watchdog, ensuring the success of the Forest Practices Code of BC Act, and the FRPA while the BC Community Forest Association is an independent association that aims to support the success and development of Community Forest projects in BC[18].

The year following the social unrest of the “War in the Woods” in Clayquot sound was one for government to regain the trust of the people[4]. The establishment of a thoroughly-reviewed regulatory act for forested land in BC was the answer. Although many years of what some considered ‘mismanagement’ of forest resources in BC (especially on BC’s south-coast, and on Vancouver Island) had preceded the event of civil disobedience in 1993, the government took this opportunity to address what was clearly a salient issue. Taking into consideration reviews and consultation from the public, Bill 40 was passed in July, 1994[19]. It was titled The Forest Practices Code of BC Act.

The act came into effect almost a year later, immediately followed by the development of a professional board for monitoring the effectiveness of the FPC (and the soon-to-be legislation of FRPA). The board was titled the BC Forest Practices Board, and was formed to address the evidently important component of accountability that the public deemed lacking in the previous decades of British Columbian timber development. The Forest Practices Board was designed to conduct independent audits on forest practices, as well as monitor and address public complaints in the context of forest practices in BC[18].

Following the successful implementation of the CFA pilots in 2001, the BCCFA was established in 2002. The association was an independent source of advocacy and support for communities interested in, or involved with CFAs. Their vision involves a healthy network of communities representing a diversity of CFAs, promoting economic sustainability through environmentally progressive practices. Their mission is to “promote and support the practice and expansion of sustainable community forest management in British Columbia”[17].The association acts as a resource for communities to access information regarding current CFA tenures, and their associated challenged and benefits. They also claim to act as a mediary, fostering relationships between First Nations and rural communities through promoting “understanding and cooperation” (ABCFP, n.d.).

Social Actors

The emergence of new institutional models (co-management and community forestry) are based on two crucial factors that were significantly affecting the legitimacy of the forestry profession in the late 80s and early 90s in BC[3]. The first of those factors is that the accountability of foresters was (and periodically still is) being questioned; the effectiveness of management from "current institutional mechanisms" (p. 736)[3] was (and periodically still is) being doubted by the citizens of BC. The second factor contributing to the general criticisms of the forestry industry is that the preference for ecosystem-based forest management (described here as management that balances multiple objectives involving forest resources) is increasing in Canada[3]. These social factors represent broad oppositions to state-dominated decision making.

It is often difficult to differentiate which actors related to community forestry in BC are affected or interested, due to the frequent combination of those concepts which occur for the various actors. While there are great advantages to British Columbia’s citizens as far as economic benefits (for example, jobs associated with CFAs, and often increased access to recreational areas), there are also costs to BC’s citizens. Costs include visually sensitive areas being altered by forestry, eradication of old-growth forests (of which some people associate great instrinsic value), altered ecosystem function which leads to the loss of ecosystem services provided[20], as well as altered forest-stream linkages[21]. Some of these costs may be so considered by local community members, and First Nations, however being more directly affected by local forest development is accompanied by more space-specific costs and benefits. The following analysis will isolate a few social actors affected directly by community forestry in BC, attempting to outline their objectives, and any benefits or costs associated with community forestry in BC.

In order to determine specific objectives that are held by communities in BC, references to a transparent and well-documented community forestry society will be made. The Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society will be the subject of community input, as they openly share documentation from community meetings. The Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society is a great example of successful implementation of local values, local diverse benefits and local decision-making, and that is evident when one observes their freely available documentation that is made available online[15].

When analyzing the LNTCFS’ Summary of Input from Community Meetings, there are three main categories that repetitively arise as important components that should be considered when deciding how benefits to local communities should be allocated: community, forest, and education. These three categories are discussed by all five communities that are eligible for benefits associated with the LNTCFS (there are five different communities that form the community component for this CFA, that is why this institution is referred to as a society, it comprises all five surrounding communities). ‘Forests’ and ‘Education’ are relatively small categories when compared to the subtext within the ‘Community’ sections of each town meeting minutes. Forest refers to strategic and operational objectives that allow long-term sustainability of the ecosystems that provide welfare to the communities through the society. Education refers to financial and teaching opportunities that are made possible for the five surrounding towns[22].

Community is broken down into five categories: Common Assets, Recreation, Manufacturing, Tourism and Agriculture. Common assets are brought up in the context of local infrastructure, for example community hall upgrades. Recreation is of concern in terms of trail development and recreation opportunities accessible to the communities. Manufacturing is a big focus for economic longevity; how can the LNTCFS contribute to local business development, including training, resource supply (wood for building), marketing support, business plan assistance, etc. Tourism is also an important component for many local small business owners; the importance of tourism is integral for the social welfare of many of these towns and as such, requests for the LNTCFS to promote and help establish this region as a destination are crucial for the success of tourism-related income in the region. Finally, agriculture is another important component of the livelihoods of the communities involved with the LNTCFS, objectives relating to agriculture are diversification of crops, soil and water protection, and improved access to markets[22].

While the objectives and values are diverse among communities, those mentioned above are representative concerns of many rural, historically resource-based towns in BC. These diverse values could be considered very difficult to manage for, however, the LNTCFS has established objectives that address multiple goals through their Strategic Management Plan[22]. Although Agrawal et al. discuss the importance of understanding and managing for the diversity of communities in land management decision-making[2], this report will assume similar values and objectives for all of the communities that were consulted except for the Simpcw First Nation.

This decision serves two purposes: to counteract the typical underrepresentation of aboriginal values in land-management decisions across the globe (the historical and discriminatory approach to addressing indigenous concerns much less than colonialist and/or visible majority individuals), and to acknowledge that First Nations share unique components of their relationship with the environment with indigenous and first peoples across the globe[23][24][25]. The latter component is best described by Noisecat (2017), he quotes ‘The Uluru Statement from the Heart’ which claims that first peoples’ “ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the […] peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors” (p.2)[25]. This innate connection to the Earth is shared among many aboriginal and indigenous societies, and is why Noisecat (2017) states that this is the “Indigenous Century” (p.3)[25]. He speaks to the first peoples’ vision of leaving a planet in better condition than before, for their future generations, which embodies the entire concept of sustainability. For these reasons, the Simpcw First Nation’s input to the LNTCFS’s strategic plan will be outlined in more detail than the other community groups involved.

In the short term, the Simpcw First Nation request aid to develop and/or enhance programs that promote the youth’s interest in cultural heritage. This will enable the maintenance of oral tradition and contribute to the First Nation’s pride and identity. Research programs with academic connections would enable future research opportunities. Increased collaboration with Chu Chua Stewardship Department would ensure local traditional and ancestral values are maintained through stewardship practices. Increased access to advocacy with other tenures would enable information sharing between industry-related firms. Funding for youth programs relating to land management could initiate the new generation of future forest, land and natural resource managers in the region. Increased access to advocate with governmental agencies such as the Fisheries and Oceans Canada was requested. Bursaries for accessing post-secondary education among First Nations youth[22].

Long-term values that were important to the Simpcw First Nation were surrounding long-term heritage maintenance and physical well-being of individuals. They request support with elder housing and facilities for extended care. A museum to “preserve local artifacts and regional history, [maintain] local place names and language, [and to protect] pre-contact knowledge” (p, 19)[22]. What’s noticeably different between the first-nations values and other local values is the importance of all generational well-being. While many other communities/community groups focused on infrastructure and development for current objectives, many of the values held by the Simpcw First Nation were surrounding their aging generation, and their upcoming youth[22]. Their obvious concern for long-term well-being and envornmental protection are what demonstrate the Simpcw First Nation’s qualification for a new form of forest resource management regime, supported by Noisecat’s example of First Nation connection to the land and Agrawal and Gibson’s assertion of the importance of time-, and space-specific knowledge.

In addition to the local communities across the province that have vested interest in the management of the surrounding forested land, and the First Nations on whose customary and traditional lands almost always are involved in forestry practices, there are several non-profit groups that are very supportive of environmental values associated with the forest. The Dogwood Initiative, and the David Suzuki Foundation are two organizations that are often active in times of social unrest surrounding natural resources of Canada[9]. These two non-governmental organizations are also strong supporters of community-based forest management in BC, having invested time and many resources in the support of community forestry in BC[9]. Finally, academic institutions like UBC, UVIC and SFU are very involved in research, contributing to the success and continuous scientific evaluation of Community Forest Agreements in BC[9].

A First Nations Community Case: the Klahoose First Nation’s bumpy road to tenure.

The economic and social success of the Klahoose First Nation is a combination of hard work, perseverance and the insight to involve influential actors in their attempts towards treaty rights[26][27]. Over the last decade, they have managed to secure a long-term partnership with the Cortes Community Forest Coop, acquired one of the most valuable pieces of harvestable forested land in BC, and signed a lucrative agreement with Plutonic Power for a run-of-the-river hydro project[28]. The hydro project called Jimmy Creek Run-of-River Hydroelectric Project pays the Klahoose through an agreement written by the provincial government[29]. While these opportunities mark important economic breakthroughs for the Klahoose by means of drawn out negotiations and agreements, they also represent the shifting environment for governmental support of First Nations through new legislation. Additionally, these factors represent the government’s intentions towards reconciliation and payment for historical mistreatment. It could be hypothesized that these components are all part of governmental attempts at regaining the social license that once existed, prior to acknowledging their abusive role in Canada’s relationship with First Nations peoples. Whether or not that is true is irrelevant when addressing the hard work that has resulted in the Klahoose’s long-term welfare and current tenure in BC.

The Klahoose First Nation have customary land claims on Cortes Island, which is the most northern of the Gulf Islands in Goergia Straight as well as on the mainland of BC in the Toba Valley[30]. Since the late 80’s they have been establishing their traditional and ancestral rights in Toba by expressing their disapproval of forest operations that were deemed unsustainable[28]. Ken Brown, the Klahoose’s chief counsellor (in 2009, at time of publication), recalls that the First Nation barracaded the road in 1988 to block access to a timber-rich area that required passing through their reservation land in Toba Inlet[28]. Two decades later, monumental shifts in power were about to occur.

In 2008, the Klahoose first Nation launched legal suits against the British Columbia provincial government, as well as Hayes Forest Service Ltd. (a Duncan-based forestry company, and at the time, tenure holder of Tree Farm License #10). They sued for lack of consultation from both the government and the timber company with respect to a pending harvesting permit in Toba Inlet. The BC Supreme Court ruled in their favour, outlining that the provincial forestry manager had not adequately consulted with the First Nation, Justice Christopher Grauer stating that “With respect to the process, I find it difficult to describe it as ‘consultation.’ While some information was indeed supplied by the ministry in response to requests from (the) Klahoose, much meaningful information was not.”[28]. This court decision was the beginning of the Klahoose’s success story[28].

A year later, there was a deal in the making. The Klahoose were trying to purchase the TFL from Hayes. While the forestry company was open to “any reasonable offer”[28] for the purchase, they carried on with the development of a forest stewardship plan that was already in progress. The step that they seemed to be unable to complete was that of negotiations with the local First Nations. The Klahoose maintained their stance on the plan, asserting that their plan was not comprehensive enough of the entire TFL and it was therefore inadequate. More information about the plan was requested, however Hayes rejected the request. The Klahoose followed with more court involvement which was again settled in their favour.

In 2009, the bankrupt Duncan – based logging firm called Hayes Forest Service Limited finally gave in to the Klahoose’s intentions of gaining ownership of Tree Farm License 10 of Toba inlet. The TFL covered approximately 25% of their traditional territory and was a good start to reconcilliation. The Klahoose thanked the BC Liberals who had “done more for the First Nations in the last three years, than [had] happened in the last 30 years”[27]. They are poised now to control the access and use of the TFL that has an annual allowable cut of 115, 000 m3, which is said to generate between 25 and 30 full-time jobs. When the TFL changed ownership, the stumpage also shifted to represent the new governance structure, closer to that represented in CFAs. The TFL’s stumpage reflected the fact that it was purchased by and run by a First Nations and thus the stumpage went from $25-$30 per cubic metre to $8 a cubic metre. Chief Brown was quoted in 2009 to have expected annual earnings from the forest license to be beteween $2 and $3 million[28].

There is no current information about the Toba inlet economic development through the new forestry venture from the Klahoose Forestry Limited Partnership. As of July 2013, the forest production seems alive and well. Their community members seem to be involved in all aspects of forest management, from Managing Forester to machine operator. While balancing the production of wood for the timber market, management objectives seem to represent non-timber forest values as well. Grizzly habitat is a large factor when considering wildlife values, as well as the Marbled murrelet habitat requirements. Watershed protection is an important management objective, protecting fish and fresh-water values. Through the development of the hydro project, in conjunction with responsible and sustainble forest practices, from my perspective the Klahoose First Nation is managing this portion of their traditional territory sustainably, and profitably. (Author’s observations)   

Another forestry venture that has enabled the Klahoose to take charge of the management of some of their traditional land is the Cortes Community Forest Cooperative. This cooperative represents over 200 community members and residents of Cortes Island. In 2011, the Minister of FLNRO (at the time, Steve Thompson) sent an invitation to the Cortes Community Forest Advisory Group to apply for a Community Forest Agreement tenure. This agreement would account for approximately 40% of the Crown land on Cortes Island. The legal entity that was granted this tenure was the rewly composed Cortes Forestry General Partnership which was comprised of a 50/50 partnership between the Cortes Community Forest Co-op and the Klahoose Forestry No. 2 Limited Partnership. The  Parters equally govern and have comitted equal investment. This partnership has uniform goals and objectives for their 3, 800 hectares of forested crown land. (Cortes Community Forest Co-op)

Since 1988, the values of the Klahoose have been supported and actively protected by the non-aboriginal residents of Cortes Island[26]. The Cortes Island Forestry Committee (CIFC) was formed to address local concerns regarding industrial forestry on the island, and often shared similar values and objectives with the local First Nation. For example, members of the Committee joined the Klahoose First Nation in 1990 to protest MacMillan Bloedel’s timber harvest adjacent to the Klahoose’s village on Cortes. In fear of losing any existing social license, MacMillan Bloedel (MB) abandoned their harvesting plans until appropriate consultation had been addressed[26].

MB forestry development resumed in 1993 when their partial harvest plan was hesitantly approved by the CIFC. Harvesting continued until 1998 at which point ownership changes shifted the whole logging environment on Cortes. MB sold two portions of timber devlopment land to private logging companies, and the Minister of Forests gave Candian Forest Products (CANFOR) a large allocation of Crown land. These events were simultaneous, and extremely abrupt in the eyes of the community. Without community involvement or consultation with the Klahoose First Nation, local disapproval was high. With this resentment, non-inigenous member of the community felt the need for official representation; the Cortes Ecoforestry Society (CES) was thus formed[26].

            Following various failed attempts by both the Klahoose and the newly formed CES to purchase MB’s properties on Cortes, both parties approached the provincial government for possible solutions. In the fall of 1999, MB was purchased by Weyerhausaeuser, and negotiations continued, to no avail. With a roller-coaster of hopeful, but failed negotiations between the Klahoose, the CES, industry and government, no agreement was reached for over a decade. The social importance of sustainably managed forestry combined with the existing institutional support on the island would prove helpful in due time[26].

In September, 2013, the Cortes Forestry General Partnership had secured legal, long-term and strategic tenure on Cortes Island.  The partnership between the Klahoose First Nation and non-indigneous community members interested in forest resources management over the last decades had finally proved useful.

As of 2017, net profits ran approximately $213, 000 from their 3900 m3 of timber produced. In recognition of the importance for community engagement, the CFGP state in their Community Forest Operation Plan that the forest will be always be “developed in consultation with representatives of, and reflect the expectations of the broader Island community” (Cortes Forestry General Partnership, 2014).

Through their steadfast tenacity, the Klahoose has done very well over the last decade. From profit-sharing agreements like that with Plutonic Power, to having tenure over 25% of their traditional territory, they have victories to celebrate. It is only acceptible, however to acknowledge the concept that this measurement of their success is based on the social structure that evolved from that which was established by colonialist Europeean settlers. The governmental framework was adopted from the Monarchy of England, and many values that accompany this framework are based on the secular system of Catholicism. While we may celebrate the small victories of environmentally and socailly successful First Nations in BC, we must acknowledge that these victories are very small when compared to the trauma that this same system imposed on the first peoples of Canada throughout the 20th century.

Through treaty negotiations and license agreements awarded to First Nations, the provincial and federal governments have begun the process of reconcilliation. This process, if it is to be successful, will require monumental amounts of resources over decades, if not centuries. In the meantime, the government should continue to award tenure to First Nations on their traditional, ancestral and unceded territories, and continue to participate in negotiations towards treaty agreements.   

CFA Governance Assessment.

Prior to the emergence of the Forest Practices Code of BC Act, public disapproval for state-managed forested land was high. Public perception of natural resources development in BC, such as forestry, was that it “[happened] at the expense of environmental values” (p. 898)[31]. After the introduction of Community Forest Agreements to BC in 1998, public interest started growing; over eighty communities had shown interest in the program by 2001[12]. While many of the broad objectives of the governing structure of forests in BC does not serve local values, it is also this democratic framework that enables social participation and provides support for diverse public views[26].

It is that same governmental framework that has allowed the emergence of ‘neoliberlisation’ of natural resource management; which means the shift of decision-making power to non-state actors, such as communities[14]. With a call for community-based forest management plans at the turn of the 21st century, BC’s economy saw an emergence of support for a new governance structure for forested land –that is, a “departure from the traditional industrial model that [dominated] the public forest tenure system in BC”[6]. This governance structure was largely based on neoliberalist values, exemplified by Columbia, Young and Matthew’s definition of neoliberalism: “a strategy and process [that] aims to establish new means of accumulation and social regulations through the partial transfer of authority and/or responsibility from the public sphere to private domains” (p. 177)[32]. This shift in power was not, however, the cure-all to the dominating state-level decision making that still predominates BC resource use and management.

            First Nations, for example, are still largely confined by the state-level management that exists on First Nations reserve land. While all of Crown land is managed by the provincial government, the extremely small proportion of land in BC designated as “Indian [sic] Reservation”, is managed by the Federal Government of Canada (Ministry of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 1985). An appalling example of language used in this statute is as follows: “No Indian is lawfully in possession of land in a reserve” (MIAND, 1985). This demonstration of the lack of property rights indicates the importance of new licenses that support First Nations’ long-term resource and/or land use like the Community Forest Agreement. Additionally, as of 2010, First Nations have access to not only forest tenures that serve broad objectives other than timber values like the CFAs, but also a new tenure type titled First Nations Woodland License[33]. Constitutional rights are the goal, however exclusive use-rights and contingent rights like the CFA are a productive start [23][25].

There are institutional barriers for the broad-scale takeover of Community Forest Agreements that many citizens would like to see in BC’s forestry industry. These barriers include an outdated stumpage system that is designed to serve three broad values: retaining crown ownership and control, encouraging industrial timber production and sales, and creating governmental revenues through timber sales[15]. These values are state-level values, which have extremely limited trickle-down effect for BC citizens, similar to the system that Jack Westoby denounced in 1978 [1]. 1978! This structure of governance benefits colonialist institutions like the British Monarchy, and the provincial government, but not necessarily the people[1]. It also has little inter-agency coordination with respect to the different bodies of governmental control[34]. Fortunately the system that exists has much less control over CFAs due to their long temporal component of their tenure. Additionally, stumpage is much lower for Community Forestry Agreements than for tenures awarded in other forms.

The combined blessing and curse of the democratic governmental structure that exists at the provincial level in Canada is that social license is an extremely important concept to governmental elected leaders. As such, we can see a history of regulation that supports the most salient issues of communities that make up the population of the province. On the other side of the coin, citizens are bombarded with a society that supports an enormous diversity of opinions and worldviews, and as such, regulation and politics often reflect that (often) conflicting diversity. It’s fair to say that the emergence of Community Forest Agreements in BC was a direct consequence of the social movement that stood for more environmentally-based resource management in the late 80s and early 90s in BC. Let’s hope that the most well-intentioned and well-informed people continue to make their voices heard, with respect to the environmental issues of resource management that exist in BC.

CFAs’ Future Prospects, Challenges & Recommendations.

The tenure system has long served the majority; privileged, rich, well-educated white people of Canada. Through the stumpage and Crown ownership systems, top-down control enabled commercial and industrial forestry to thrive in the 20th century. This success is considered by some as the antithesis of sustainable development. For years, the people who opposed the state-controlled system had no outlet for their opinions. The War of the Woods in Clayquot Sound provided a stage for unprecedented civil disobedience that represented the public’s disapproval of this system. It was then, in the early 90s that the provincial government acknowledged the salience of environmentally-aware management that also accounted for non-timber objectives.

The resulting policy enabled a new type of tenure called the Community Forestry Agreement. These were designed to serve multiple objectives, determined in-part by the local community that lived in the area of the CFA. Through the above analysis of the history, governance, and social and administrative actors, I will conclude that the leading objectives of the CFA tenure type are socially, environmentally, and economically more sustainable than other volume-based, timber tenures that exist in BC. The effectiveness of this tenure, however, cannot be judged through such a short-term of observation and evidence.

Over the last two decades, BC has seen the great emergence of this exciting new tenure type. The results must be monitored over the full term of the tenures to objectively establish the extent of the tenure’s functionality and sustainability. While the majority of the 20th century gives us many examples where the historical tenure types did not serve the people, the available information and data on current Community Forests is limited. Since Community Forest Agreement tenures span between 25 and 99 years, continuous monitoring and evaluation must occur.

Short-term improvements of the tenure type over traditional commercial timber tenures include managing for non-timber forest products, heightened awareness of habitat requirements, and localized decision-making that represents community members’ values. Long-term improvements to the historical timber tenures include reduced effects to ecosystem function, improved fish habitat and food availability, protection of stream structure and wood inputs as well as a sustainable annual cut based on the long-term growth trajectory of individual stands within an area[35][36][37][38][39].

The continued success of this tenure type is hopeful. The full scope of the possibilities of improvements that Community Forest Agreements represent over traditional commercial harvest tenures, however, cannot be realized without a greater temporal scale of evidence. The current social, environmental and economic benefits that are observable in Communities like those on Cortes Island, and in the Lower North Thompson region represent hope for CFAs. With success stories like theirs, it’s hopeful that the provincial government continues to allocate land to area-based, long-term tenures like Community Forest Agreements, and First Nations Woodlot Licenses.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Menzies, N. K. (2007). Introduction. In Our Forest, Your Ecosystem, Their Timber: Communities, Conservation, and the State in Community-based Forest Management. New York: Columbia University Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Agrawal, A., Gibson, C. C., Britt, C., et al. (1999). Enchantment and Disenchantment: The Role of Community in Natural Resource Conservation. World Development, 27(4), 629–649.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Beckley, T. M. (1998). Moving Toward Consensus-based Forest Management: A comparison of industrial, co-managed, community and small private forests in Canada. The Forestry Chronicle, 74(5), 736–744.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hayter, R. (2008). "The War in the Woods": Post-Fordist Restructuring, Globalization, and the Contested Remapping of British Columbia’s Forest Economy. Annals of the Association of American Geographers
  5. Tindall, D. (2013, August 12). twenty years after the protest, what we learned from Clayquot Sound. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Haley, D. (2002). Community Forests in British Columbia: The Past is Prologue. Vancouver. Retrieved from
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (2012). Timber Tenures in British Columbia: Managing Public Forests in the Public Interest.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Tschaplinski, P. J., & Pike, R. G. (2009). Riparian management and Effects on Function. Compendium of Forest Hydrology and Geomorphology in British Columbia., 479–525.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Teitelbaum, S., Beckley, T., & Nadeau, S. (2006). A national portrait of community forestry on public land in Canada. The Forestry Chronicle, 82(3), 416–428.
  10. 10.0 10.1 British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range. (2002). Forest and Range Practices Act. Victoria.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Bixler, R. P. (2014). From Community Forest Management to Polycentric Governance: Assessing Evidence from the Bottom Up. Society and Natural Resources, 27, 155–169.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Gunter, J., & Mulkey, S. (2017). The British Columbia Community Forest Association: Realizing strength in Regional Networking. In Growing Community Forests: Practice, Research and Advocacy in Canada (pp. 150–159). Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
  13. Duinker, P., Matakalam, P., Florence, C., & Bouthillier, L. (1994). Community Forests in Canada: An overview. The Forestry Chronicle, 70(6), 711–720.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Mccarthy, J. (2006). Neoliberalism and the Politics of Alternatives: Community Forestry in British Columbia and the United States. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 96(1), 84–104.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Bullock, R., Broad, G., Palmer, L., & Smith, M. A. (2017). Introduction. In Growing Community Forests: Practice, Research, and Advocacy in Canada (pp. 1–15). Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Clogg, J., Gage, A., & Haddock, M. (2002). A Results-Based Forest and Range Practices Regime for British Columbia.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Association of British Columbia Forest Professionals. (2015). Mandate,Vision & Mission. Retrieved November 26, 2018, from
  18. 18.0 18.1 Forest Practices Board (2017). Special Report: Opportunities to Improve the Forest and Range Practices Act Letter of Introduction. Retrieved from
  19. Clogg, J. (1999). Tenure Reform: A Path to Community Prosperity? Nelson. Retrieved from
  20. Grizzetti, B., Lanzanova, D., Liquete, C., Reynaud, A., & Cardoso, A. C. (2016). Assessing Water Ecosystem Services for Water Resource Management. Environmental Science and Policy, 61, 194–203.
  21. Likens, G. E., Bormann, F. H., Johnson, N. M., Fisher, D. W., & Pierce, R. S. (1970). Effects of Forest Cutting and Herbicide Treatment on Nutrient Budgets in the Hubbard Brook Watershed-Ecosystem. Source: Ecological Monographs (Vol. 40). Winter.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.5 Future Forest Management (2014). Strategic Plan: Summary of Input from Community Meetings. Cherryville.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Booth, A. L., & Muir, B. R. (2013b). “How Far Do You Have to Walk to Find Peace Again?”: A case study of First Nations’ operational values for a community forest in Northeast British Columbia, Canada. Natural Resources Forum, 37(3), 153–166.
  24. Gilbert, J., Tugendhat, H., Couillard, V., & Doyle, C. (2010). Business, Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples: The Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Ssrn, 044(0).
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Noisecat, J. B. (2017, May 30). Indigenous Sovereignty is on the Rise. Can it Shape the Course of History? The Guardian, pp. 1–3.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 Bullock, R., Hanna, K., & Slocombe, D. S. (2009). Learning from community forestry experience: Challenges and lessons from British Columbia. The Forestry Chronicle, 85(2), 293–304.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Rudan, P. (2009, March 10). A Perfect Day for the Klahoose. Campbell River Mirror. Retrieved from
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 28.6 Dolha, L. (2009, March 24). Klahoose To Realize Multi-Millions In Old-Growth Timber. First Nations Drum.
  29. Reconciliation, M. of A. R. and. (2014). Klahoose Revenue Sharing Agreement. Retrieved from
  30. Bourque, D. (2013, July 25). A New Era of Prosperity for B.C.’s Aboriginal People. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from
  31. Booth, A., & Halseth, G. (2011). Why the Public Thinks Natural Resources Public Participation Processes Fail: A case study of British Columbia communities. Land Use Policy, 28, 898–906.
  32. Columbia, B., Young, N., & Matthews, R. (2007). Resource Economies and Neoliberal Experimentation: The Reform of Industry and Community in Rural British Columbia. Royal Geographical Society (Vol. 39).
  33. British Columbia Ministry Of Lands, Forests and Mines (2011). Introduction to the First Nations Woodlot Licence. Victoria.
  34. Alemagi, D. (2010). A Comparative Assessment of Community Forest Models in Cameroon and British Columbia, Canada. Land Use Policy, 27, 928–936.
  35. Erdozain, M., Kidd, K., Kreutzweiser, D., & Sibley, P. (2018). Linking Stream Ecosystem Integrity to Catchment and Reach Conditions in an Intensively Managed Forest Landscape. Ecosphere.
  36. Kaylor, M. J., & Warren, D. R. (2018). Canopy Closure after Four Decades of Postlogging Riparian Forest Regeneration Reduces Cutthroat Trout Biomass in Headwater Streams Through Bottom-up Pathways.
  37. Warren, D. R., Keeton, W. S., Kiffney, P. M., Kaylor, M. J., Bechtold, H. A., & Magee, J. (2016). Changing Forests – Changing Streams: Riparian forest stand development and ecosystem function in temperate headwaters. Ecosphere, 7(August), 1–19.
  38. Wipfli, M. S., & Musslewhite, J. (2004). Density of red alder (Alnus rubra) in headwaters influences invertebrate and detritus subsidies to downstream fish habitats in Alaska. Hydrobiologia (Vol. 520).
  39. Yeung, A. C. Y., Lecerf, A., & Richardson, J. S. (2017). Assessing the long-term ecological effects of riparian management practices on headwater streams in a coastal temperate rainforest. Forest Ecology and Management, 384, 100–109.


Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
This conservation resource was created by Arlo Bryn-Thorn. It is shared under a CC-BY 4.0 International License.