Qala:yit Community Forest first to share revenues with BCTS

A new community forest on Vancouver Island will be the first in B.C. to include a revenue-sharing agreement with BC Timber Sales.

The provincial government has proposed a similar structure for a community forest on Haida Gwaii.

The Qala:yit Community Forest is a partnership between the Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative, the Pacheedaht First Nation, and the provincial government.

Under the agreement signed Saturday, the Qala:yit community forest will have an annual cut of 31,498 m3 of timber.

Because its tenure includes areas where BCTS is already operating, revenues from a quarter of the annual cut — or 7,296 m3 — will be shared 50/50 between BCTS and the other Qala:yit partners.

The Qala:yit is the first of its kind among B.C.’s 56 community forests. It was made under legislation passed in 2016 designed to allow new community forest licences in areas where there are significant competing pressures on the land.

“With such a tight land base in the area, the Qala:yit Community Forest would not have been possible without entering into this agreement with BC Timber Sales,” said Doug Donaldson, B.C.’s forests minister, according to a press release.

“Because of the willingness of all parties to embrace ingenuity, the Pacheedaht First Nation and Cowichan Lake communities are now poised to reap the financial and social rewards, and increased input into local resource management decisions that go along with community forest agreements.”

On Haida Gwaii, the province has invited the MIEDS communities to apply for a much larger community forest that is expected to yield up to 80,000 m3 a year. Revenues from about 70 per cent of the cut, or 55,000 m3, would be shared 50/50 between the community forest and BCTS.

After a series of meetings last spring, MIEDS staff found strong support for a Haida Gwaii Community Forest, but not on those terms.

“Employment is more valued by island residents than revenue sharing with BCTS,” said a letter sent by MIEDS to B.C. forestry officials in March. The letter also said the 50/50 revenue split and guarantee of 55,000 m3 auctioned through BCTS was “unacceptable,” and asked for more time to discuss the issue.

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