May 28 – 31, 2009
The 2009 BCCFA Conference and Annual General Meeting were hosted by the Alberni Valley Community Forest and the town of Port Alberni. Despite the dramatic challenges of the sagging global economy, changing markets, and the known and unknown impacts of climate change in front of us, 90 people participated actively and with enthusiasm in the event.
With a target to reduce costs, outside speakers and formal presentations were kept to a minimum. Through a series of four 1.75 hour long Dialogue Sessions, the conference program focused on strengthening the network of community forest practitioners, and on sharing experiences, information and strategies for navigating these times in our industry. Participants explored the potential for synergies at regional levels, collaborative marketing of community forest products and partnerships with First Nation communities. We learned about the complexities of climate change, something that promises to challenge how we manage our forests for the long term, and we learned about government initiatives for bioenergy, carbon credits and adding value to logs.
A highlight of the conference was the premier of the BCCFA Community Forest Film. The film, produced by David Springbett of Asterisk Productions, is the primary activity in the Opening New Doors: Branding BC’s Community Forests project. The purpose of the film is to promote the unique characteristics of community forests and to demonstrate the benefits of local control and management. The message that community forest agreements (CFAs) combine environmental stewardship, economic development and social benefits is told through the stories and activities of six different community forests and a 10 minute overview piece. The film is a very beautiful documentation of the diversity of each community, and tells the story of how we are all linked through this unique tenure.
Participants gave high marks for the conference format, topics and venue. Here is a sample of their comments:
- Good networking event-good venue. Very good field day. Exceeded expectations for learning about issues and opportunities for CFAs
- Awesome! 1st time attending. Great to see the respectful and collaborative relationships at work! If only the entire wood products industry acted as honorably.
- I attend lots of conferences every year, but I have never been at one where the level of participant engagement was so high and sincere. Lots of times people leave a session grumbling about their dissatisfaction or opposition to an issue discussed in the session. Here people talked about those things in the sessions, very transparent, respectful and honest. Congratulations.
- Very good conference. Well organized. Excellent networking. The enthusiastic attitude of all those involved in the community forest program in BC really came through.
Thanks again to the City of Port Alberni, to Councillor and BCCFA Director Jack McLeman for spearheading the hosting activities, to Ken Watson, City Manager, who was the key man on every detail of very smooth conference delivery, to Tanya Meeks for making registration seem simple, to Theresa Kingston who organized the venue to perfection, and to the all those who were so important in making the conference such a professional and enjoyable event.
It is always an adventure to organize and deliver this conference. We begin in October with a host community and a budget. From there the staff and directors work together to shape a conference program that will draw participants, and have some meaningful impact on those who attend. This year we put a focus on strengthening the community forest network, on finding the new opportunities that can come if we work together, on uniting with others in a shared sense of purpose, and through all of that, increasing the possibility of finding sustainable solutions for our communities. The key take away from the conference is that community forests are nimble and flexible. Through our network we are prepared to work together to meet the challenges of the times, and to grow the opportunities of this unique tenure.
Proud to be BCCFA Staff and Conference Organizer
To view the Conference Report and the presentations click on the titles below
2009 BCCFA Conference Report
Richard Hebda, University of Victoria and Royal British Columbia Museum
Ron Greschner, Ministry of Forests and Range Update
Cherryville Community Forest
Kaslo and District Community Forest
President’s Report 08-09