The benefits of community forestry vary from community to community as they each identify their unique values and priorities. For example, one rural mountain community has identified water protection as their highest priority, while a First Nation community forest sees education and long term employment of band members as their key priorities. The numerous benefits of community forestry include:
- Long-term community economic development resulting in the increased self-reliance of rural communities.
- Local employment in rural communities.
- Local-level decision making that leads to locally appropriate decisions and improves the incentives to consider the long-term benefits of sustainable management.
- Increased potential to resolve conflicts over timber harvesting in watersheds and other sensitive areas.
- Protection of drinking watersheds, viewscapes, and other values that are important to communities and to local and regional economic activity.
- Enhanced opportunities for education and research. Community forests can be laboratories for testing innovative forest practices.
- Community participation in resource management leads to an improved awareness of forest management among members of the public.
In 2008, ten years after the community forest program was established, community forests are demonstrating their ability to create local jobs and manage local resources to meet local needs, values and priorities. For a list of the examples of the benefits communities are creating as a result of the community forest operations, click here. This is by no means a comprehensive list.
Cheslatta Community Forest Activities
New Boardwalk on Kager, Burns Lake
Community Benefits of Burns Lake Community Forest Ltd:
1) Social (quality of life)
- contributed over $2 million dollars to local groups and governments
- contributed to local seniors housing projects
- contributed to local fire departments, training dollars for local paramedics, library
- funding for community parks, trail infrastructure, sports programs and community acitivities
2) Economic and Local Employment
- use local crews through select list process, generated hundreds of thousands of manhours of local employment
- purchased millions of dollars in goods and services in the Lakes District since inception
- up to 50% of staff has been First Nations
- supply fibre to local mills
- employed First Nations crew
- operate specialty mill (process local fibre and all local employment)
- employ sustainable forest management practices
- consistently retained greater than legally required retention on streams
- conducted Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping project through FIA for whole community forest landbase
4) Tourism and Recreation
- BLCF has donated over $1 million dollars to recreation events, groups and infrastructure since its inception (local parks, sports events, infrastructure in local schools, trail and recreation site establishment,
- Donated $25,000 per year between 2001 and 2008 to keep 28 local recreation sites open and maintained
- established 23 km of new recreation trails in the Lakes District, and assisted with establishment of 30 km of new snowmobile trail
- purchased 160 acres in 2006 for the purpose of leasing to the local mountain biking society for a bike park
- assisted with upgrade and publication of local recreation map
5) Managing for local values
- maintained "open door" policy since inception and make every effort to keep the public informed of issues that affect the community and community forest
- quality consultation with stakeholders
- reserved seats for 3 First Nation groups on board of directors
6) Education and Research
- support local forest management program in the highschool, donation of staff time to local schools
- host workshops (agroforestry, non-timber forest products)
- supported log building course, purchased simulators for local college
- the local employment component of the BLCF Contract Award policy promotes more "on the job" training for area workers
8) Partnership Building
- active participation of First Nation board of directors
- assisted First Nation groups with management of forest license tenures, including assumption of silviculture liability
- strong and active partnerships with local recreation groups (snowmobile club, mountain biking club, cross-country ski club and recreation society)
- partnered with many local organizations through thousands of dollars of in-kind donations (machine time, staff time, office space donation)