B.C. First Nations forestry businesses can look forward to an additional $400,000 towards technical support from the provincial government through the First Nations Forest Sector Technical Support Program.
The program supports job creation, community development, market development, and improved economic well-being with technical advice and hands-on expertise that can help First Nations develop new and existing forest-related businesses.
"By continuing the First Nations Technical Support Program, we are delivering on our commitment in the Forest Sector Strategy to explore initiatives to support successful forest management and forest-sector business development by First Nations,” says Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
B.C. First Nations hold 14.7 per cent of B.C.'s allowable annual cut, increased from 11.9 per cent in 2010 and just three per cent in 2001.
Since 2002, the B.C. government has signed forestry agreements with 175 First Nations, providing more than $324 million in revenue-sharing and access to over 63.2 million cubic metres of timber.
FPInnovations and the federal government sparked the initiative in 2010 with a total commitment of $1.2 million. Since then, the program has exceeded initial targets, having engaged with more than 50 First Nations.
Peter Lister, vice-president, FPInnovationssays the company and the B.C. government will be working directly with First Nations communities throughout the province.
“[We will] provide technical assistance in harvesting, manufacturing, market research, new product development and to help determine where further investment in forest businesses will result in real community benefits for First Nations," says Lister.
As a result of the program 20 businesses have been created, maintained or expanded; more than $1.3 million in new capital investment in manufacturing capacity has been identified, and 40 jobs have been created or maintained.
The results are easy to see on the ground at Stuwix Resources Joint Venture. Eight First Nations in the Merritt area are working collectively to manage six tenures. The Technical Support Program helped identify operational efficiencies in current harvesting and log hauling operations and communicate harvesting plans to their contractors.
Lenny Joe, general manager, Stuwix Resources Joint Venture says First Nations involvement in B.C.'s forest industry is growing rapidly.
“This program will increase our capacity and efficiency and will help position our business to play a more positive role in rural communities around the province," he says.
Staff from FPInnovations will begin administering the next intake of the program and deploying industry advisors this month.
For more information, please contact the program manager, Dave McRae of FPInnovations, or visit First Nations Forest Sector Technical Support Program, Our Natural Advantage: Forest Sector Strategy, or BC Jobs Plan.