What is Community Forestry?

A community forest can be described as a forestry operation managed by a local government, community group, First Nation or community-held corporation for the benefit of the entire community. Community forestry involves the three pillars of sustainable development: social, ecological, and economic sustainability. At its core, community forestry is about local control over and enjoyment of the monetary and non-monetary  benefits offered by local forest resources.

The Community Forest Agreement (CFA) is an area-based licence that provides the exclusive right to harvest timber within the CFA area, and the right to manage botanical forest products. Licences are long-term, 25 years, replaceable every 10. Since the development of the CFA tenure in 1998, BC has issued 58 CFAs across BC (click here to view the map) with another 5 formally in the application process (click to view the status sheet). These licences are held by a variety of community-based legal entities, including Limited Partnerships, Societies, Co-Ops, First Nations Bands and local governments. Collectively, over 100 Indigenous and rural communities are involved in community forestry in BC.

Half of the operating CFAs are held by First Nations or are partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. In addition to community forests where First Nations are owners or partners, many community forest organizations include First Nations representation on their boards. In many cases, First Nations are engaged in cooperative planning, share profits, have MOUs and employment contracts, and work with community forest organizations in capacity building activities like training and education.

The CFA tenure was developed to give local communities the opportunity to manage local forests for the benefit of those communities, in a manner consistent with locally defined objectives and values. CFAs are governed by the Forest Act and the Forest and Range Practices Act, and all other applicable statutes and regulations.

Community Forest Agreement holders are uniquely incented to make investments in the forest resource for long-term sustainability. A community with a long-term, area-based tenure must live with the consequences of their decisions, and conversely, is motivated to invest for future benefit. For the same reason, CFA holders are managing for a range of objectives including:

  • wildfire mitigation & community protection
  • climate change mitigation and adaption
  • enhanced forest stewardship and incremental silviculture
  • conservation of ecologically and culturally significant areas and values, including old growth forests.

 The BC Community Forest Association represents over 90 rural and Indigenous communities across our province. We share a vision of a network of diverse community forest initiatives, where local people practice ecologically responsible forest management in perpetuity, fostering and supporting healthy and vibrant rural communities and economies.

 Contact info@bccfa.ca for more information.

Information on the details of the Community Forest Agreement tenure can be found at this link

Ministry of Forests, Land Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development page on the Community Forest Agreement


The Provincial Government’s Goals for the Community Forest Program

  1. Provide long-term opportunities for achieving a range of community objectives, values and priorities.
  2. Diversify the use of and benefits derived from the community forest agreement area.
  3. Provide social and economic benefits to British Columbia.
  4. Undertake community forestry consistent with sound principles of environmental stewardship that reflect a broad spectrum of values.
  5. Promote community involvement and participation.
  6. Promote communication and strengthen relationships between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities and persons.
  7. Foster innovation.
  8. Advocate forest worker safety