The B.C. government is introducing a single cutting permit procedure to make it easier for local governments, First Nations, and other non-commercial organizations throughout the province to harvest timber from community forests.
A community forest is a forestry operation managed by a local government, community group, or First Nation, for the benefit of entire community.
Right now, organizations that manage community forest agreements have to apply for a permit for each site in their licence area where they want to cut down trees, a system which often leads to the need for multiple permits.
Community Forest Agreements are long-term, area-based licences designed to encourage community involvement in, and management of, local forests.
There are 47 agreements in place throughout the province with an annual allowable cut of 1.3 million cubic metres of timber a year.
"The B.C. government is a strong supporter of the community forest concept," said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. "Community forests support local social, economic and environmental priorities. They help maintain jobs and recreational opportunities, foster long-term environmental stewardship, and build a stronger sense of community."
The change means that eligible organizations will only need a single cutting permit, good for up to four years, for the entire community
forest. It's a simpler process, which allows community based forestry operations to be more responsive to community need and market demand.
The streamlined process supports the government's forest sector strategy commitments to improve access to forest tenures for a range of
users and identify and pursue community forest agreement opportunities.
Kevin Davie, president of the British Columbia Community Forest Association said the process will allow greater flexibility for community forests to support the needs of small, value-added manufacturers in rural communities.
"Small, value-added manufacturers and community forests help support local economies by providing employment," said Davie. "This announcement comes at a critical time in our economy, and we are proud to have been able to work with Minister Thompson's staff in achieving this important goal."
Community forests provide revenue to support local priorities. First Nations consultation remains a critical part of the permitting process, and government needs to be satisfied that adequate consultation has occurred before it will issue a cutting permit.
For more information about Our Natural Advantage: B.C.'s Forest Sector Strategy, please visit www.for.gov.bc.ca/mof/forestsectorstrategy/ To read more about Community Forest Agreements, please visit www.bccfa.ca/