Wildfires – A Role for Community Forests and Woodlot Licences

This year’s wildfire season was the worst in BC’s history. Forest fires threatened communities, destroyed homes and businesses, caused over 45,000 people to be evacuated, and displaced or killed countless cattle and wildlife.

While the provincial government has devoted funding to help communities counter the fire risk, as of 2015, only 10% of the 1.6 million hectares of identified hazardous fuels were treated and most communities remain highly vulnerable to wildfire. More can and needs to be done which is why the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations (FBCWA) and the BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA) are calling on provincial government to:

  1. Support small tenures to invest in wildfire hazard reduction by increasing the funding directly available them and streamlining the administrative process.
  2. Review the legal and regulatory frameworks to prioritize community fire protection in Wildland Urban Interfaces. The risk of wildfire must be considered when carrying out forest planning and practices around communities.
  3. Engage with the BCCFA & FBCWA to identify long-term solutions that will create fire adapted communities and fire-resilient ecosystems and landscapes.

Community Forest Agreements (CFA) and Woodlot Licences (WL) are forest tenures that grant the holder the right to manage distinct areas on the landbase.  Many Woodlot Licences and Community Forests reside in the critical area where communities meet forests.

Province-wide, over 100 rural communities and First Nations are engaged in community forest management and there are more than 860 WLs. Many work to reduce fuel loading in their forests to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires. Their experience in planning, administering and implementing investments in the landbase should encourage the province to look more closely at the critical role that community forests and woodlot licences can play.

 

For more information contact:

 

BC Community Forest Association

www.bccfa.ca

info@bccfa.ca

 

Federation of BC Woodlot Associations

www.woodlot.bc.ca