First Nations Forestry Council sends FLNRORD their response to FRPA changes

From the First Nations Forestry Council:

“On January 10, 2020, the Forestry Council sent a response letter to the Ministry of Forests regarding changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).

FRPA is a critical piece of overarching legislation regarding the management of BC’s forest lands and resources that was developed and introduced in 2004 without First Nations’ input or involvement. First Nations also had little to no input into the initial changes to FRPA that were introduced and passed in April 2019 (Bill 21).

Now, the Province will be doing a series of proposed regulatory changes to bring Bill 21 into force that reflect provincial priorities.

The response can be found here and is summarized below:

FRPA is a critical piece of overarching legislation regarding the management of BC’s forest lands and resources that was developed and introduced in 2004 without First Nations’ input or involvement. First Nations also had little to no input into the initial changes to FRPA that were introduced and passed in April 2019 (Bill 21).  Now, the Province will be doing a series of proposed regulatory changes to bring Bill 21 into force that are primarily focused on government objectives that do not reflect the input and priorities identified by First Nations.

We now have an opportunity to bring FRPA in line with the UN Declaration, starting with the revised BC & First Nations Forest Strategy which contains goals applicable to FPRA that incorporate First Nations’ values and management objectives. It also includes objectives around collaborative stewardship and land use planning that can help inform changes to FRPA and the new landscape-level planning regime the Province is moving forward with in the spring of 2020.

We are proposing:

  • That the timeline to review, and respond to, Bill 21 regulations be adjusted to afford a reasonable time for review, given that most Nations were closed for at least two weeks over the Christmas holidays,
  • To cohost 4 regional engagement sessions with the Chief Forester’s Office and BC First Nations before March 31, 2020 to facilitate additional opportunities to review, and discuss, the proposed regulatory amendments and additional statutory changes with First Nations.

We are also seeking more clarity on the link between the “What we Heard Report” produced by the Office of the Chief Forester (Appendix 3) and additional proposed Act amendments for the Forest and Range Practices Act, Spring 2020 (Appendix 2). Many of these changes seem to support government priorities and not those we heard in engagement sessions with First Nations in 2019, such as:

  • the need for new practice requirements and input into changes to reflect BC First Nations’ perspectives for all resource values identified under FRPA,
  • the importance and need for resources, so all BC First Nations can develop their own land management frameworks within their territories, and
  • the need for joint decision-making regarding the establishment of objectives for resource values, and for the Province to formally recognize Land Use Plans (LUPs) developed by Nations for their territory.”