Saturday, September 8 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Premier John Horgan was in Sooke to help officially open the 2018 Sooke Fall Fair at noon, then travelled to Port Renfrew to take part in a special forests announcement for the Cowichan and Port Renfrew regions.
People in the Cowichan Lake communities and Pacheedaht First Nation will benefit from a unique community forest agreement for the Qala:yit [Kwah-LIE-it] Community Forest, reached in partnership with the provincial government.
“This is the latest stride that our nation has taken towards creating our own economic destiny, including a new sawmill and a new potable community water system that is capable of serving the entire Port Renfrew area,” said Chief Jeff Jones, Pacheedaht First Nation.
“In partnership with the Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative, BC Timber Sales and the Province, we are achieving our goal of greater resource management in our traditional territory.”
The agreement with BC Timber Sales is the first of its kind. One of the unique conditions of this community forest is that part of the land base includes BC Timber Sales’ operating area and, as a result, 7,296 cubic metres will be sold by BC Timber Sales. Of the net revenue generated from the BC Timber Sales harvest, 50% will be shared with the Qala:yit partners to use in their communities.
“The Qala:yit Community Forest partnership is the first of its kind and a great example of what we can accomplish when we work together to create good jobs and more opportunities so people can build better lives in their communities,” said Premier John Horgan.
As part of the application, the partners demonstrated community awareness and support for the community forest, including building relationships and sharing information with neighbouring First Nations and area communities. The applicants also submitted a management plan for approval that helped determine the final allowable annual cut, set at 31,498 cubic metres over approximately 8,000 hectares of Crown 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, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
“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,” said Donaldson.
Community forest agreements are long-term, area-based tenures designed to encourage community involvement in the management of local forests. A community forest is managed by a local government, community group or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community.