Archived - A Summary of Forestry Initiatives with Aboriginal Peoples in British Columbia

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The entire area of British Columbia is 95 million ha. Some 94% of the area of BC is publicly owned.  Almost 60% of BC is forested.  Of that area, about 22 million ha of public land is designated as timber harvesting land base – where timber production is both viable and sustainable. 

Almost half (41%) of BC forests are "old growth" or older than 140 years old.  The province of BC manages the forests for a range of values, including preservation of old growth areas as well as wildlife habitat and First Nation cultural values. 

First Nation communities account for about 4% of the entire population of BC.  However, in rural areas where dependence on the forest industry is highest, the Aboriginal population is closer to 8%.  For more information on how the forests of BC are managed, refer to the State of Forests Report.  The purpose of the report is to provide information on the condition of BC's forest resources and the environmental, cultural and ecological values associated with the resource.  Chapter 19    is devoted to First Nations.

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Sharing of forestry derived revenues

In February 2003, for the first time anywhere in Canada, a provincial government committed to sharing revenues derived from resource extraction with Aboriginal communities.  Those words galvanized the province of BC and began an entirely new relationship between First Nations and BC

Fast forward to the present and you will find that new relationship built with the 171 First Nations that have signed forest revenue sharing agreements with BC.  That number represents 85% of the 203 First Nations affected by forestry operations in BC.  The road has not been without significant bumps, but the province recently rolled out the successor to the expiring original revenue sharing agreements - one built on lessons learned over the past few years.  The new revenue sharing agreements (now known as Forest Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreements or FCRSAs) are responsive to First Nation requests to have revenue sharing calculated on the harvesting activity within individual traditional territories rather than on the original per capita method.  Besides a share of revenues, these agreements also provide the parties a mutually agreed on process for consulting on forestry decisions that impact Aboriginal communities.

This approach is also in accordance with both the recommendations that emerged from the 2009 Minister's Working Roundtable on Forestry and the vision for a better future for First Nation communities from the Transformative Change Accord.  Change can be challenging, but ALL of the First Nations who held agreements that expired in the past year have signed extensions to their originals.  That is a remarkable demonstration of faith that the program is continuing to evolve and improve.

Since 2003, the Ministry of Forests and Range has signed forestry agreements with 171 First Nations providing $242 million in revenue-sharing and access to 54.6 million cubic metres of timber.

The FCRSAs provide profound and tangible benefits to First Nation communities.  For example, in December 2010, the province expedited the payment of revenue sharing funds to the Moricetown Band.   Those funds allowed the community mill, that was in immediate danger of being forced to close, to remain open and continue to provide employment for Band members.

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An Entirely New Forest Tenure Designed for and by First Nation Communities...

Improvements to BC's forest tenure system include development of an entirely new form of forest tenure-- one that is responsive to the unique needs and aspirations of First Nations.  The First Nation Woodland Licence was introduced in spring 2010 and designed to implement another Working Roundtable recommendation to create area based, long term, First Nation specific tenures.  The licence incorporates some innovative features that are causing a stir of interest among First Nations. The new licences allow for First Nation management of a suite of values including protection of culturally significant sites and the opportunity to market traditional botanical products.  Both are exciting departures from the short term, non exclusive right to harvest timber that characterized licences awarded to First Nations in the past.  The first ten licences are being prepared now for rollout.  The new woodland licences also reward First Nations that successfully operate their tenures by returning a portion of the stumpage paid by the community as a component of an innovative new revenue sharing regime.

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Forest Tenures Already Held by First Nation Communities...

The province awards tenure directly (without competition from other licensees) to First Nation communities through agreements now known as Tenure Opportunity Agreements.  When the province initially began the practice of direct awarding tenure to First Nations, the goal was to have Aboriginal communities hold 5% of the annual harvest.  To achieve this, the province undertook a "takeback" of timber volume from holders of large forest licences to allow for creation of the First Nation held licences.  The uptake among First Nations has been remarkable and as of the end of September 2010, First Nations held 11.70 million m3/yr of allowable annual cut (AAC) within competitive and direct award forest tenures. This amounts to 13.9% of the provincial AAC. Of the 11.70 million m3/yr, 5.3 million m3/yr (or 6.3% of the provincial AAC) are within competitively held forest tenures and 6.4 million m3/yr (7.6%) are within direct award forest tenures.

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Forest Sector Technical Support For First Nation Communities...

A new program has been introduced – the "First Nations Forest Sector Technical Support Program" -  designed to build First Nations capacity in the forest sector by providing knowledge transfer from skilled technical advisors.  The new program will include information and best practices in forest management operations, as well as product marketing and general business development and is funded equally by the provincial and federal governments. 

This program builds on a program that ended in March, 2009 – the Wood Products Technical Support Program (WPTSP).  The WPTSP was a two-year program, funded equally by the provincial and federal government during the 2007/08 and 2008/09 fiscal years.  The WPTSP delivered knowledge and expertise in wood products processing to First Nations communities and First Nations entrepreneurs.  The provincial contribution totalled $350,000 in year 1 and $550,000 in year 2 and achieved overwhelming support from First Nations. 

For the first year of the new project, nine First Nations communities have been chosen to receive support through site visits, technical assessments, workshops, individual business projects, technical literature/ bulletins, market intelligence briefs, and awareness seminars. 

The First Nations that will be provided with services in 2010/11 include Ahousaht, Chehalis, Haida, Heiltsuk, Huu-ay-aht, Kwadaacha/Tseykeh, Moricetown, Seaton Lake and WestBank.  Some of these First Nations were chosen as they had previously demonstrated excellent results under the previous program and who, with some additional investment in their operations, will see a good return on the investment (eg. Ahousat). 

Other First Nations on the list are new, and were chosen as they have demonstrated a need to move forward on their specific business plans (Kwadaacha).

This revised program will provide proven professional advice to First Nations businesses and will lead to improving their capacity in the forest sector.  This goal is consistent with the Working Roundtable on Forestry Report. 

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Working Roundtable on Forestry

The most recent innovations to the province's goal of increasing the meaningful participation of First Nation communities in the forest sector were the result of the Working Roundtable on Forestry.  First Nations were a driving force behind the roundtable and the recommendations emerging from it.  The following recommendations were key in further moving the forestry related interests of Aboriginal communities forward:

A link to the Roundtable report   

Excerpts from the Roundtable Status Update:

Roundtable Recommendation #25

We should create more long-term, area-based forest tenures that are of an economically viable size, and create legislation for a First Nations forest tenure.


Bill 13 (Forests and Range Statutes Amendment Act, 2010, First Nations Woodland License) received royal assent on June 3, 2010.  When the First Nations Woodland License comes into force through regulation it will provide a new form of area-based forest tenure for First Nations that would recognize their asserted interests in the land and resources, including the protection of traditional use practices, the harvest and management of non-timber forest products, and other benefits.  A long-term and area-based tenure will allow First Nations to have an increased role in forest stewardship, to protect traditional uses, to manage forest and land use in the area, and to improve their ability to secure investment and loans.

Roundtable Recommendation #26

Revenue-sharing with First Nations should be proportional to the value of timber harvested in their respective territories instead of being calculated on a per capita basis.


With respect to the revenue sharing framework, staff are now negotiating new agreements with First Nations whose Forest and Range Agreements or Forest and Range Opportunity Agreements have expired or are expiring.  There have been dramatic changes in the world economy, which have negatively impacted the financial returns for the forest industry and provincial revenues significantly.  In consideration of this, the ministry is not fully introducing an activity based model immediately, since the introduction of the new approach could lead to significant reductions in revenue sharing amounts for the renewed agreements.  Instead, the Province will transition from the per capita method of revenue sharing to implementation of the new revenue sharing framework over the next 4 years, so that any changes are phased in.  As the economy and the forest sector recover, revenue sharing payments may increase if corresponding harvesting activity and stumpage values increases.

Roundtable Recommendation #27

We should encourage business and First Nations to become full partners in forestry businesses, in particular in emerging areas of opportunity including biofuels, bioenergy, carbon and reforestation.


First Nations continue to be offered access, on a non competitive basis, to harvest timber through interim measures agreements signed with government.

As of December 2010, 171 First Nations had access to harvest 54.6 million cubic metres through all direct award agreements and have been provided $242 million in revenue-sharing.

BC Timber Sales (the forestry operating arm of the province) has developed a strategy that encourages business-to-business relationships with First Nations that includes allowing First Nations to manage the planned timber sales, harvest the cutblocks developed by BC Timber Sales and build planning and management capacity.

In December 2009, the province signed the first Reconciliation Agreements with the Haida and with the Coastal First Nations.  These are landmark agreements requiring new legislation to enable delegation of decision making with respect to forestry.  Specific components include:

For Haida:

shared decision making on forestry decisions
A commitment to share revenues from forest carbon offsets.
120,000 m3 direct award forest tenure
$10 million to acquire additional forest licence
a total of $3 million over the next 5 years to implement the agreement

In addition, BC has also engaged First Nations in Incremental Treaty Agreements that provide, among other things, early access to timber (in advance of final treaty settlement).  For example, an ITA with the Klahoose First Nation allowed the community to purchase a Tree Farm Licence from the tenure holder.  Operations on the Tree Farm Licence had been contentious due to its location adjacent to the community and the associated impact on cultural values.  As a result, the tenure holder was unable to successfully operate the licence and was satisfied with the buy out.  With the ownership of the licence now resting with the community itself, the Klahoose are entirely in control of managing the tenure for those values that have the most meaning for the community.  This is winning situation in 3 ways – BC now sees a revenue stream from harvesting of the tenure, the tenure holder was satisfactorily compensated for a tenure that was difficult to manage and Klahoose are full participants in the forest sector.

Roundtable Recommendation #28

We should strive to build capacity among First Nation governments, First Nation forest corporations and First Nation forestry institutions to achieve full participation in forest activities.

Roundtable Recommendation #29

We should collaborate with First Nations to involve First Nations youth in forest employment opportunities.


Many of the actions that support Recommendation #28 also support Recommendation #29.

The province participates on the University of British Columbia's First Nations Council of Advisors on the development of aboriginal forestry professionals and aboriginal community forestry.

Forest Education BC has an agreement with the province to promote forestry within First Nations and other communities as a career opportunity. Forest Education BC is developing new outreach materials.

The province participates on a forestry recruitment team, which includes a focus on Aboriginal youth, led by the Association of BC Forest Professionals, with participation by the Truck Loggers Association, University of BC, and others with forest sector recruitment interests.

The province has sponsored two Aboriginal Youth Interns. One intern worked in the Forests for Tomorrow program and the other in the Aboriginal Affairs Branch.

Wildfire Management Branch of the Forest Service continues to focus on hiring and training Aboriginal firefighting Unit Crews.

Community Development Trust Tuition Assistance Program provided $300,000 for a seven-week life skills program that delivered forestry career training for 20 First Nations youth.

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In response to the Ronald L Trosper paper entitled Canadian Judicial Pressure to Consult and Accommodate Indigenous Peoples Regarding the Forests of British Columbia. Prepared for the International Expert Group Meeting on Idigenous Peoples and Forests – January 12-14, 2011.

Mr Trosper's document is missing many of the initiatives that BC has made progress on over the past several years, most notably:

The New Relationship with First Nations; resource revenue sharing, shared decision making, and, capacity $$ to engage in consultation with the province.

His paper also demonstrates an outdated vision of consultation in the post treaty environment.  The province has moved on from the model he describes in his paper to one of continuing consultation with First Nation communities with respect to natural resources in the post treaty world.

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Ecosystem Based Management and Land Use Planning...

An outline of BC's management of Land Use Planning, including with respect to Aboriginal interests is below

British Columbia's approach to forest management through the North Coast and Central Coast Land Use Plans and other initiatives may be used to support the following meeting objectives and discussion themes as per UN Concept Paper PFII/2011/EGM.

Objectives and Outcomes of the Meeting:

Proposed Themes for discussions:

Theme 2: Case Studies on the positive and negative effects of forest development on indigenous peoples and their communities

Theme 3: Factors that enable or obstruct indigenous peoples' participation development processes.

Theme 4: Human Rights and Corporate Responsibility in development programmes and projects.


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Land Use Planning - overview

British Columbia is 94% Crown land, and most areas of the Province now have a strategic land use plan in place addressing zoning and resource management, see the British Columbia Website .

Land use plans and agreements are a tool through which governments – normally the Province and First Nations – agree to implement a particular land use plan, or to implement land use direction contained in the agreement itself. Land use plans predominantly address conservation, stewardship, economic development, and intensity of development of land and resources through recommendations for zoning and management practices that may be implemented either through legal means or policy instruments. Land use plans and agreements are used by the public sector, private sector, First Nations and other resource managers when making strategic level decisions about land and resource management. Land use plans and agreements enable First Nations engagement by:

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Highlights of the Ecosystem-based Management regime in British Columbia

Background Documents

Considerable background material from the land use planning processes carried out over the last 10 years in this region can be found at the British Columbia Website  This link includes the LRMPs for the North Coast and Central Coast, Agreements with First Nations, the reports of the earlier Coast Information Team (CIT) and EBM Working Group. All web links below fall under this umbrella link.

First Nations' Strategic Land Use Planning Agreements (SLUPAs)

More than a dozen SLUPAs and Detailed Plans provide a plan and vision unique to each Nation. In general, these plans identify important values and resources found within a community's traditional territory, and describe how these should be managed. See the Coastal First Nations Website  and British Columbia Website  .

Collaborative Planning Processes

The LRMP Tables

The North Coast LRMP, covering approximately 1.7 million ha represented the consensus reached by the participants of the North Coast LRMP Planning Table. The Table met for 29 months from February 2002 to June 2004, and consisted of representatives of nine public sectors, eight First Nations, local governments and the provincial government.

The Central Coast LRMP covers ~4.6 million ha. The LRMP Completion Table comprised multiple stakeholders, local and provincial government representatives, and representatives from the area's First Nations. First Nation representatives participated at the Table, but abstained from decision making in consideration of Government to Government discussions on these recommendations.

The Coast Information Team (CIT)

The CIT was set up by the Provincial Government of British Columbia, First Nations of the region, environmental groups, and forest products companies. It consisted of independent scientists and practitioners and traditional and local experts, overseen by a management committee and supported by a secretariat. The CIT became operational in mid-January 2002 and concluded its work at the end of March 2004.

The five-person management committee consisted of representatives of the founding partners (Provincial Government, First Nations, environmental NGOs, forest products companies) and the community at large, and was co-chaired by Provincial Government and First Nations representatives. The management committee interpreted the CIT's mandate, determined and oversaw the program and budget, decided the specifications of each project and the composition of the project teams, and assured the CIT's independence.

The CIT program was carried out by ten project teams of scientists and practitioners, each led by an acknowledged expert. All projects were peer reviewed, following a procedure supervised by an independent peer review chair. For more information, see the Coast Information Team   .

The EBM Working Group

The EBM WG was a technical committee co-chaired by the province and First Nations. It included communities and First Nations as well as other members who represented major resource value perspectives. The EBM Working Group operated from 2006 to March 2009, when the current legal orders and commitments were finalized. The purpose of the EBM WG was to develop recommendations on EBM research priorities and the application of research results to the implementation of EBM; oversee research related to uncertainties or knowledge gaps in EBM implementation; and coordinate and manage data for the Central and North Coast plan areas. Membership, Terms of Reference, and annual reports are at the British Columbia Website .

Joint Solutions Project

The purpose of the Joint Solutions Project (JSP) is to reduce conflict, collaborate to implement ecosystem-based management and constructively engage with other stakeholders involved in implementing the consensus land use agreements for the Central and North Coast regions of British Columbia. The JSP began as a unique effort between a group of forest products producers and environmental groups interested in exploring ways to end market-based conflict over forests in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Technical Liaison Committee

The Technical Liaison Committee (TLC) has representatives from the LRF Technical Team (province and major First Nation groups), and CFCI of the forest industry and RSP of the environmental movement.

The Joint LRF Technical Teams is responsible for:

Government-to-government (G2G) Governance System

The Land and Resource Forum (LRF) is the government to government executive group, with an Executive LRF (generally, Deputy Ministers and the most senior FN representatives) that meets a few times annually, and LRF Working Group (generally, Executive Directors and Directors) that meets monthly.

Originally three separate land and resource forums were established between participating First Nations and the Province. Each forum - one for the southern portion of the Central Coast, one for the northern portion of the North Coast and one for the area in between - was created to oversee implementation of the strategic land use agreements, the Provincial land use decision and EBM. On February 7th 2008 the Province, represented by the Integrated Land Management Bureau, the Ministry of Forests and Range and the Ministry of Environment, ratified a Terms of Reference to establish a Joint Land and Resource Forum with the Nanwakolas Council, Tsimshian Stewardship Committee and Coastal First Nations. The Joint Land and Resource Forum does not replace the three separate forums, rather, it augments them and focuses on regional issues that are consistent between the three forums, leaving the separate forums to deal with issues that are unique to their respective areas. See the British Columbia Website .

EBM Objectives

A summary of the LRMP objectives and the First Nation agreements can be found at: British Columbia Website    .

Definition of EBM

The LRMPs include multiple objectives for Human well-being (HWB) and Ecological integrity (EI), which together comprise "Ecosystem-Based Management".  The following link provides the definition of "full implementation of EBM", as defined in the Government-to-Government Agreements between the various First Nations and Province of British Columbia: British Columbia Website  .

HWB Objectives

Commitments with First Nations can be found in specific government-to-government agreements and protocols, see the British Columbia Website .

Commitments and agreements include:

Ecological Integrity Objectives (which incorporate HWB)

The key legal implementation tools are:

(a) a zoning system including various levels of protection, ranging from full Class A Parks to Conservancies and Biodiversity, Mining Tourism Areas (BMTAs), all legally established, see the British Columbia Website .

(b) legal orders defining different levels of forest management, based on range of natural variation, and estimated risk level of risk. The legal orders include objectives for First Nations' traditional forest resources, traditional heritage features, culturally modified trees, monumental cedar and retention of Western Red and Yellow Cedar, see the British Columbia Website .

The Planning Framework

EBM Handbook

The EBM Handbook, developed by the CIT, provides the overriding EBM planning framework. It was accepted by the governments as guidance for EBM implementation, see the Coast Information Team Website   .

The Framework for Landscape Reserve Planning

This policy framework provides the commitment to spatially locate the legally-required old forest retention targets and other provisions, in conjunction with focal species habitat, First Nations values and other stewardship requirements. It includes the commitment to manage at "no higher than high risk" based on best available science related to risk thresholds for focal species and range of natural variation for old forest. The policy framework enables a coarse (strategic) level of reserve planning followed by a more detailed level to identify ‘hard' reserves by March 2014.

EBM monitoring and evaluation

Adaptive Management Framework

The EBM Working Group developed a large number of reports, including reports to support adaptive management, see the British Columbia Website  .

An Adaptive Management Steering Committee has been underway for one year and is developing indicators for both HWB and EI in order to support a review by 2014 of the efficacy of the Land Use Objectives.

2014 LUO Review

Full review of the March 2009 Land Use Orders by March 31, 2014

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Other BC Forestry initiatives and First Nations' interests

Clayoquot Sound

The Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound reviewed forest practices standards in effect in Clayoquot Sound as of September 30, 1994. It noted the extent to which First Nations' knowledge and interests were addressed in (then) current standards, and recommended requirements for new forest practices standards that cover the spectrum of First Nations' interests and concerns. See the Cortex Consultants Inc. Website .

Subsequently, the five First Nations in Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve region negotiated an Interim Measures Agreement with the BC government. The agreement established the Central Region Board. This joint management board brings together First Nations and other local communities to oversee resource management and land use activity in the area. See the Tofino Botanical Gardens Foundation Website .

Haida Gwaii

This agreement was reached through government-to-government discussions between the Province and the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN). See the British Columbia Website .

The Sea-to-Sky LRMP

The Sea-to-Sky LRMP was built upon the recommendations of a public Planning Forum  comprising representatives from a variety of sectors, input from government agencies, and the outcomes of government-to-government (G2G) agreements  with the In-SHUCK-ch, Lil'wat, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. The LRMP harmonizes these Nations' land use visions and plans with the Province's land use policy, in the spirit of the New Relationship. See the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations Website .

Consultation and collaboration on other forestry initiatives

The Province of British Columbia undertakes consultation and/or information-sharing and communication, as required, with First Nations on all land use /forestry designations. The following links provide a few examples of initiatives that involve First Nations' participation and input:


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