B.C. has reached a milestone in its innovative approach to putting forestry revenue directly back into First Nations communities.
The signing of a Forest Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreement (FCRSA) with the ChawathilFirst Nation marks the 100th FCRSA signed since B.C. adopted a new model in 2010.
The Chawathil FCRSA agreement flows a percentage of provincial forestry revenue from the First Nation's traditional territory directly back into the community and allows the First Nation to decide where it is needed most.
B.C. launched a new harvest-based FCRSA revenue-sharing model in December 2010. In addition to revenue-sharing, FCRSAs also provide a consultation process for operational decisions related to forestry in the area. This enhances consultation efficiency, provides certainty to the land base and provides a positive investment environment for industry and opportunities for First Nations and non-First Nations community members.
"For years, the Province gained revenue from the forestry industry, and now we have a voice in the decisions regarding timber within our traditional territory," says Chawathil First Nation Chief Rhoda Peters. "We will utilize this opportunity to secure revenue for our community and offer employment to our membership. We look forward to making the best decisions that will allow our membership to be the stewards of the forest lands for future use."
First Nations have used the revenue to support community initiatives and infrastructure projects ranging from economic development in forestry, lands and resource development to afterschool care and education programs. Other uses include funding community hall improvements and community information sessions.
First Nations are managing more than 300 tenures throughout the province and, as of July 2012, held directly awarded tenures representing almost nine per cent of B.C.'s allowable annual cut. First Nations also have competitively obtained forest tenures representing another six per cent of B.C.'s allowable annual cut. In total, First Nations have access to more than 12 million cubic metres this year.
B.C.'s recently released Forest Sector Strategy makes partnerships with First Nations in forestry a priority. The Province continues to pursue new forest tenure opportunity agreements that provide First Nations with both short and longer-term certainty of timber supply for their forestry businesses. Since 2010, more than 25 forest tenure opportunity agreements have been signed.
"Forestry is the backbone of over 150 communities across B.C.," says Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson, "and I'm proud of the significant progress we've made to increase First Nations' participation in the forest sector."
To see a copy of the Chawathil First Nation agreement, click here.
To see a copy of Our Natural Advantage: Forest Sector Strategy for British Columbia, click here.