A Brief History of Community Forestry in BC

For a comprehensive analysis of the development of community forestry in British Columbia we recommend “Community forests in British Columbia: The past is prologue”, written in 2002 by Dr. David Haley. READ THE ARTICLE

1945: The concept of community forestry first developed in the province when Gordon Sloan, in the Royal Commission on the Forest Resources of British Columbia of 1945, recommended that municipalities manage local forests. This recommendation led to the establishment of the Mission Municipal Forest . In 1957, the second Sloan Commission recommended expanding this concept to involve other municipalities, but nothing came of this proposal.

1976: Yet another Royal Commission led by Peter Pearse supported the expansion of community forests. He said: “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.”

Between that time and the late 1990s, only a handful of community forests were established in the province. These included: Revelstoke, Kaslo, and Creston. Each of these communities held industrial forms of forest tenure—a Tree Farm Licence in the case of Revelstoke, and 15-Year volume based Forest Licences in Kaslo and Creston.

1998: The foundation for the Community Forest Agreement (CFA) program was developed by the Ministry of Forests and stakeholders interested in creating opportunities for greater participation by communities and First Nations in the management of local forests. This resulted in the decision to pilot a community forest program to test the viability of community-based Crown tenures in B.C. In July 1998, amendments to the Forest Act came into force creating this new form of tenure. The Forests Statutes Amendment Act (1998, Bill 34) includes provisions for the replacement of the pilot agreements with long-term community forest agreements (of 25–99 years).

In September 1998, the Ministry of Forests issued a Request for Proposals, inviting communities throughout the province to apply for a 5-year pilot Community Forest Agreement. Eighty-eight communities expressed interest in participating in this project, and 27 developed full proposals. Of the 27 proposals, seven communities were offered Community Forest Pilot Agreements: Burns Lake Community Forest Ltd., Harrop-Procter Watershed Protection Society, Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Forest Society, North Island Woodlot Association, Islands Community Stability Initiative, District of Fort St. James and the Esketemc First Nation.

2000: In October 2000, three additional community forest pilot agreements were offered: Likely Community Forest Ltd., Village of McBride and Nuxalk First Nation.

2002: The BCCFA was formed in March at the Community Forestry Conference in Victoria. BCCFA membership included 12 operating community forests (Pilots, 2 Forest Licenses and 2 TFLs and 4 community organizations seeking a pilot (“wanna-bes”).

2003: Through the Forestry Revitalization Plan and timber reallocation, the provincial government announced its intention to double the existing community forest program.

2004: The provincial government made changes to the Forest Act and regulations that replaced the pilot program with a 5-year probationary term, and allowed for direct awarding of Community Forest Agreements (CFA). There were 8 signed Community Forest Pilot Agreements

2005: 33 new communities are invited to apply for a CFA, significantly expanding the program.

2006: A full CFA Program Review is conducted by government with 33 recommendations. The Community Forest Working Group is launched with BCCFA and Ministry of Forests membership. Burns Lake Community Forest Corp. and Esketemc First Nation receive their 25-year tenures. By October there are 43 communities either in the application process or operating a CFA.

2007: CFAs are recognized by government as a unique form of tenure with costs above those acknowledged within the appraisal system. A new pricing arrangement is put in place for CFAs. The Working Group streamlines the documents and approval process for Probationary and long term CFAs.

2008: Government adopts new goals for the CFA program. By June, fifty two Community forests are involved CFA Program.
6 Long Term CFAs Awarded
22 Probationary CFAs Issued
24 Communities Invited to Apply for a Probationary CFA and in the application process

2009: Through the passing of Bill 13 in the provincial legislature, the 5-year probationary period is eliminated. All existing and new community forest agreements are now eligible for a 25 year, renewable license.

2010: The BC Roundtable on Forestry recommends more Community Forests

2012: BCCFA celebrated its 10th Anniversary. The One Cutting Permit over a CFA is implemented.

2014: BCCFA launches the Indicators Project, a new tool that will help to assess the impact and benefits of community forests in rural communities. BCCFA will conduct an annual survey with members of the set of 18 economic, social, cultural and environmental indicators.

2015: There are 57 organizations representing nearly 90 communities involved in the Community Forest Agreement program.
51 Long Term CFAs Awarded
2 Probationary CFAs Issued
4 Communities Invited to Apply for a CFA