Events Over the Last Two Decades in Relation to a Proposed Haida Gwaii Community Forest
- In 1996, Minister of Forests David Zirnhelt signed a Memorandum of Understanding Committing to an Area-Based Community Forest with a suggested minimum of 56,000 cubic metres (m3) of annual harvest (AAC). The MOU also added that a further 25,000m3 would be identified through a new AAC (on top of 56,000m3); totaling closer to 81,000m3.
- In January 1999, the Islands Community Stability Initiative (ICSI) was one of 27 areas province-wide to submit a full proposal expressing interest in being included in the community forest pilot agreement project.
- In July 1999, ICSI was one of seven communities selected to move forward with a community forest pilot agreement subject to holding public meetings to verify broad community support exists and an agreement being negotiated between the Ministry and the proponents regarding an area. The potential area for this Community Forest Pilot was the Tlell watershed.
- In December 2004, the Village of Masset was invited to apply for a 25,000m3 Community Forest.
- In 2007, a 25,000m3 Community Forest was proposed to Masset. It was rejected by Masset with a request that an ‘all island’ Community Forest be offered.
- In 2010, Minister Pat Bell, Ministry of Forests and Range committed to an 80,000 m3 Community Forest for all Island communities. In 2013, Minister Steve Thompson, Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations allocated 80,000m3 of the 512,000m3 Haida Gwaii timber supply area AAC for a Community Forest that had to be harvested in partnership with BC Timber Sales (BCTS).
- To ameliorate the impacts, the designated area associated with preparing the Strategic Land Use Plan had, on the 2004 Masset CFA invitation, during the period from 2012-2014, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations issued licenses to MIEDS with a total volume of 125,000 m3. As part of Business to Business agreements between MIEDS and BCTS the 125,000 m3 was sold as timber sales by BCTS and revenue was shared with MIEDS. A company was incorporated for a potential community forest and it holds revenues that can be used for some of the development costs.
- The 125,000 m3 represented the maximum volume that could be rationalized as ameliorating impacts the designated area had on Island Community CFA aspirations.
- In 2015, the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) reiterated clear support for an area-based Community Forest.
- During 2016 CHN & MIEDS were unsuccessful in efforts to engage the Province for mapping consultation exercises on the proposed Community Forest.
- In August 2016, Misty Isles Economic Development Society commissioned a report from Keith Moore, a local Registered Professional Forester to provide information, evaluation, options for decision and the next steps for the offer of a community forest.
- In January 2017, CHN & MIEDS met with Tim Sheldon, Deputy Minister of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Regional Director and the local District Manager to provide draft Community Forest Principles and request that a formal offer for a Haida Gwaii Community Forest be issued. Haida Gwaii representatives were advised that a response would be forthcoming after the May 2017 provincial election.
- Provincial staff committed to considering a revenue framework that reflected past precedents after the election.
- In March 2017, the BC government implemented amendments to the Forest Act, enabling community forests in partnership with BC Timber Sales. To ensure provincial consistency the revenue sharing formula, 50% of net revenue split, is set in regulation. The proposed community forest for Haida Gwaii is different than most other Community Forests that are free to sell all of the timber they harvest to a willing buyer. It is important to note, these community forests have to expend considerable amounts of money up front in planning, developing and harvesting prior to receiving revenue from the sale of logs with no guarantee that revenue from the sale of the logs will exceed expenditures. In the case of BCTS partnership volume the community is guaranteed a 50% share of net revenue with no ‘up front’ expenditures or risk. This is one of two community forests in the province where government has stated a requirement to have a partnership with BC Timber Sales.
- In March/April 2017, MIEDS staff and CHN staff consulted across Haida Gwaii communities on draft principles for the management of a Community Forest and a draft mapped area from the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
- In May 2017 Andrew Merilees, Chair of MIEDS, responded to Sharon Hadway, Regional Executive Director, with concerns regarding the proposed area and the reduced revenue opportunity on behalf of the communities. The letter also requested consideration for the Collison area to be included in the Community Forest, asked for the use of current timber supply analysis to determine a sustainable rate of harvest. The letter was also of the view that the Community Forest must respect the co-jurisdictional authority of tenure and forest management in the Kunst’aa Guu Kunst’aaayah Reconciliation Protocol on Haida Gwaii.
- In March 2016, May and July 2017, the CHN deferred the approval of three BC Timber Sales totaling seven blocks, citing that they comprised logging volumes promised to the communities in areas identified for the Community Forest with easy access, high value cedar and in one case, watershed concerns. (March 2016- TSL A93121 (New Town); May 2017-TSL 85374 (Lawn Hill); July 2017-TSL 93738 (Nadu).
- In August 2017, the CHN and MIEDS proposed interim solutions to BC Timber Sales to avoid crisis and conflict in communities, including avoiding high conflict areas, utilizing developed timber sales in areas outside the Community Forest, and proposing an interim non-replaceable forest license (NRFL) until the community forest was issued. The NRFL would enable 100% of revenues to flow to Haida Gwaii communities. Government rejected the proposals.
- In November 2017, BC Timber Sales posted the Timber Sales which CHN declined to approve, and the Forest District shared updated proposed Community Forest Maps. CHN posted ‘No Logging’ signage at sites where Timber Sales tenures were proposed in the Nadu Road and Lawn Hill areas.
- On November 27, elected leaders from two communities, two band councils and two electoral areas wrote to Minister Doug Donaldson asking that the controversial BC Timber Sales within the proposed Community Forest area be withdrawn and a Community Forest be offered. The letter was not acknowledged.
- On November 30, BC Timber Sales sold the Timber Sales in the Nadu Road and Lawn Hill area, within the proposed Community Forest. No consensus had been achieved between the CHN and the Ministry of Forests since April 2017 on the blocks. The Timber Sales Manager, made a determination that BC Timber Sales would offer the tenures within the proposed Community Forest tenure area. No revenue partnership was proposed by BC Timber Sales to the communities at the time of the sales. The Timber Sales totaled 67% of the proposed Annual Allowable Cut for the Community Forest.
- On December 15, 2017, MIEDS received a formal invitation to apply for a Haida Gwaii Community Forest. The 2017-12-15 CFA K5F Invitation Letter and CFA Map are attached. The invitation is for an area of over 57,000 hectares of crown land and does not specify an AAC. The invitation requires 55,000m3 to be sold by BC Timber Sales. In confirming the area, the District Manager considered timber supply information supplied by the ministry’s timber supply experts that estimated it should support 80,000 m3 if managed in accordance with the principles outlined in the 2012 Haida Gwaii Management Council AAC determination.
- In the near future we will meet with ministry representatives to discuss what timber supply work we will have to do as part of preparing our management plan and application for a CFA.
What’s next: Spring – Summer 2018
Over the next few months consultation will occur with residents across Haida Gwaii on considerations for managing the Haida Gwaii Community Forest and how Misty Isles Economic Development Society should respond to the government’s invitation.