What is a Community Forest?
The Community Forest is a unique type of area-based forest tenure which gives management of the resources to communities rather than to the larger scale privately held corporations.
Community forests were initially established to help rural communities find ways to stabilize and diversify their economies; and provide long term employment through the forest sector.
Community forests have since evolved as a means of developing and practicing sustainable forestry, building relationships with indigenous communities and individuals; and fostering innovation.
Early and ongoing objectives of the community forest tenure include:
- providing opportunities for a range of community objectives, values and priorities,
- diversifying and expanding the use and benefits of the areas under the community forest tenure to meet ecological, social and economic needs,
- undertaking forestry practices that are consistent with sound principles of environmental stewardship that reflect a broad spectrum of values,
- promoting community involvement and participation,
- promoting communication and strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and individuals,
- fostering innovation, and
- advocating worker safety.
History of the North Island Community Forest
The North Island Community Forest LP was formed in 2011, after the provincial government invited three North Island municipalities to apply for a community forest agreement on northern Vancouver Island.
The first Forest Stewardship Plan was approved in April 2014, with the second Forest Stewardship Plan being approved in June 2020.
The North Island Community Forest’s operations and the Board of Directors are governed by a Strategic Plan, a Terms of Reference and a Mandate from the Shareholders. The Forest Stewardship Plan (Associated Appendices) outlines results and/or strategies for how the NICF will meet the objectives set by government for forest management under the Forest and Range Practices Act (and associated regulations) and the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan. It also outlines the Forest Development Units where primary forest activities may take place. Other requirements that the NICF has are the licence agreement, an annual allowable cut, management objectives, First Nations and public consultation input and legal commitments made through the Articles of Incorporation.
Since the North Island Community Forest was established in 2011, the business has generated approximately $7.3 million in gross revenues with over $6 million in disbursements to the Shareholders for the benefit of their communities.
Shareholder revenues have been invested in a number of community projects and initiatives, ranging from financing recreation infrastructure, to supporting long term planning for major projects, and providing overall economic support in the communities.
“The Community Forest supports the North Island communities by providing an additional revenue source that supports services that we have all come to enjoy. In Port Hardy, the Community Forest finances recreation infrastructure that contributes to a healthy lifestyle for the residents of the North Island.” Former Mayor of Port Hardy, Dennis Dugas
“The funds coming from the North Island Community Forest have allowed us to build a healthy reserve for a future major infrastructure project. Without these funds, we would not be able to do long term planning for recreation, active transportation or any other project the community deems a priority.” Former Mayor of Port McNeill, Gabby Wickstrom
“We as a community are very fortunate to be a shareholder in NICF. Though our volumes of AAC are very small, we as a community realize change of custody from stump to dump. Monies generated from these endeavors go right back into our communities. My hope going forward with new fiber policies is that our community forest will be recognized by this government as a way to conduct business for the betterment of our community. Without these monies generated, a financial loss would be felt in Port Alice.” Mayor Cameron, Port Alice
Growing the Community Forest
Other benefits of the North Island Community Forest include recreational opportunities, ongoing tours, and support for educational programs like the NISS Forest Academy.
The North Island Community Forest continues to seek opportunities to expand their presence in the North Island, through partnerships, tenure acquisition and community outreach.