Social Involvement in Forestry
Eight Cases Studies from British Columbia and Quebec
Roland Stiven August 2000
Roland Stiven can be contacted at: http://www.phdcc.com/sites/stiven
In the summer of 2000 I received a Millennium Award from the Millennium Forest for
Scotland Trust to visit forestry projects in British Columbia and Quebec in Canada.
Inspiration for the trip came from attending an IUFRO conference on rural development
forestry held in Aberdeen in 1999. There I had met with a number of Canadian foresters
promoting projects and organisations tackling community involvement in forestry and the
organisation of private forest owners. Both of these issues are current in Scotland, being
proposed for further development within the Scottish Forestry Strategy
In both BC and Quebec, forestry has been one of the major resources for economic
development. It remains so today especially in the huge areas of both provinces, which are
rural. At present, the majority of the forest area is leased to large companies practicing
industrial forestry, harvesting primary forest to feed large scale processing industries.
My study concentrated on the non-industrial end of the spectrum; the small private forest
owners and the growing number of community enterprises keen to develop multiple benefit
forestry for sustained local development.
With the Millennium Award I visited community forestry projects in British Columbia and
woodlot organisations in both BC and Quebec. The majority of my time was spent in BC where
attention to such issues is relatively recent. Throughout the province there are groups of
people struggling to turn forestry around to focus on local development. In Quebec the
private forest owner organisations are much better established and the two Quebec case
studies provide an interesting comparison.
This report provides some background to forestry in both areas and refers to brief case
studies of the projects visited. As part of the Award I will be presenting elements of the
study to interested organisations in Scotland. There are, of course, significant
differences between Scottish and Canadian forestry, mainly related to the differences in
scale. However the same drivers for change affect both: demands for diversification of the
rural economy, environmental pressure, the challenge of certification and the influence of
global markets. I hope that the study provides some ideas and information for the growing
number of people in Scotland interested in the social aspects of forestry development in
Scotland. Almost all of the organisations I visited are putting a great deal of effort
into publicising their work on the internet and wherever appropriate I have given website
addresses for those interested to follow up.
Background to Forestry in British Columbia
Forestry is big business in BC accounting for 7.5% of the GDP and is under the
legislative control of the BC provincial government. Forests, logging trucks and forest
industries are ever present throughout the province. Forestry courses are taught in high
school, the newspapers discuss forestry and forest policy regularly, the Universities have
forestry departments and many people in rural areas have worked in forestry.
While 94% of the forestland in BC is in public ownership, 86% of that is leased by 20
corporations who practice high volume, large scale industrial extraction. Under the BC
Forest Tenure System, most licenses are for 15 -25 years, renewable every five years to
allow for new conditions or standards to be introduced. In 1995 the BC Forest Practices
Code set basic standards for management and required that all harvested areas are
regenerated to a free to grow stage http://www.for.gov.bc.ca .
The licenses only provide rights to the trees themselves and the Ministry of Forests
sets the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) from each area. All licensees pay stumpage ($/m3)
based on the harvest and an annual rent based on the AAC. Many licenses require that the
company undertake primary processing of the wood. Around 85 % of the AAC are allocated to
corporations that own sawmills or pulpmills. Licenses can be transferred or assigned with
ministerial permission. However on transfer, 5% of the AAC is retained by the Crown to be
From the Second World War until the 1970s, the forest industry developed modern
harvesting and primary-processing industries based in logging and mill towns throughout
BC. It is estimated that over two thirds of the BC population still live in communities
that have a moderate or heavy reliance on forestry; 89 communities are heavily dependent.
However, as locally accessible timber resources are exploited, labour costs increase and
timber prices fluctuate, the stability of forestry dependent communities becomes
increasingly vulnerable. To maintain a growing forest economy the industry expects more
economies of scale, more trees, more centralisation of processing and greater efficiency
While the vertical integration of companies ensures supplies of timber to the big
mills, it also keeps other people, who may be interested in other forms of value adding,
out of the resource. Over 90% of BC forest product export are shipped as lumber, pulp,
newsprint and paper.
As the scale of the forestry companies increases so the ability of local rural
communities to influence their environment, their economy and their resources has
In the last couple of decades there has been growing internal and international
criticism of the large scale, high volume fibre production approach of BC
forestry. Most criticism has been on environmental grounds highlighting the impacts on
water and wildlife and questioning the capacity of the forest ecosystem to withstand high
levels of harvest. In the 1990s, with the focus on wider sustainability and multiple
resource use, the impacts of industrial forestry on other forest resources and on the
stability of forestry dependent rural communities have also started to be questioned.
Research by the Community Economic Development Centre at Simon Fraser University in
Vancouver is looking at the role of forestry in the stability of rural communities and
suggests that current policies are putting the industrys concerns above those of the
communities upon which it relies http://www.sfu.ca/cedc/forestcomm
In 1994, with a view to creating productive secondary forests and diversifying the
industry, the government directed a proportion of stumpage fees into Forest Renewal BC
(FRBC). This is a corporation with a legislated remit to invest in the development and
revitalisation of the BC forest economy. It provides funding for silviculture and
management, environmental restoration (mostly watershed improvements) and for expanding
the value-adding sector. For the most part it provides partnership funding, working with
other private and public sector organizations. FRBC is also currently providing funds to
assist forest communities and workers adjust to changes in the forest economy through
retraining, business development and job creation. A total of $1.5 billion will be
allocated over the next five years.
While the industry giants are slow to change, the government is taking limited steps to
encourage smaller scale forestry. In 1979 the Woodlot Licence was introduced, aimed at
small scale, family-focused operations. A Small Business Forest Enterprise Programme was
also initiated to give small business loggers and small processing plants access to timber
resources. In 1999, the government agreed to pilot a new type of tenure - a Community
Forest Pilot Agreement, whereby communities apply for rights to manage Crown forest land
for multiple benefits to that community. Earlier this year (2000) 7 pilot community
licenses were awarded.
The land area or timber volume for these small-scale programmes is often created when
larger licenses are transferred between companies, using the 5% retention. However demand
exceeds supply making bids for such programmes very competitive. As background to the case
studies, these three programmes are briefly reviewed.
Small Business Forest
The programme started in 1978 and supports about 1900 small logging businesses and 400
wood product processors by making available about 13% of BCs annual allowable cut.
Companies put in tenders for timber sale licenses and bids are judged on the money value
and, in some cases, on the proposals for other objectives such as job creation, value
adding and innovative practice or product development. In most cases the Ministry of
Forests provides a site ready to log and will be responsible for site regeneration
subsequently. In longer-term agreements (up to 10 years), the company may have to plan the
logging, build access roads and be responsible for establishing new forest.
The programme supports a number of innovative projects including a log sorting yard to
supply higher value markets, horse logging in sensitive sites and small scale salvage or
harvesting systems. There is limited volume of timber available for the small business
programme and the other small-scale programmes (woodlots, community forests etc.) detract
from SBFEP land. Because of the centralisation of investment, small business loggers often
find it easier to sell to the major mills rather than support local mills and, because
there is no requirement that the small business is locally resident, the returns to the
local economy can be minimal. I visited Bella Coola, mid-way up the coast of mainland BC,
(see case study) which exemplifies many of the problems associated with trying to
regenerate a local forest small business forestry sector.
The Woodlot License Program
Six percent of BCs forestland is classified as private non-industrial forest, and
currently more than 20,000 landowners have private holdings in excess of 20 hectares.
While they contribute 10% of the provinces timber, many areas are unmanaged. The
Woodlot License Program offers landowners additional areas of Crown land to encourage them
to manage their own land more efficiently. The programme is open to any Canadian
individual, aboriginal band, or Canadian controlled corporation that does not control a
sawmill or processing facility. Woodlots are transferable, usually within families.
The maximum area of Crown land allotted per license is 600ha (400ha on the coast) on a
rolling contract of 15 years, replaced every 5 years. The size of woodlots is not designed
to provide the licensees sole source of income but rather to be of a scale that is
efficient to manage. The stumpage rate for woodlots is set so that, if efficiently run,
the woodlot is profitable.
In accepting a woodlot license to manage Crown land, licensees agree to manage their
private holding on a sustained yield basis and to adopt the BC Forest Practice Code.
There are currently over 800 woodlot licenses in BC covering over 0.5million hectares
of Crown and private land. More than 50% are farmers or ranchers. 300 woodlots have been
created over the past four or five years but there is a demand for many more. A potential
woodlot area can be identified by the Forest Service or proposed by an individual. Either
way, competitive process awards the license and bids are scored on the basis of various
criteria, including the applicants education and experience, the area of private
land included and details of the proposed management. The woodlot licensee is required to
pay the up front costs of planning, inventory, roading, harvesting and marketing and also
to ensure regeneration of felled areas to a free-growing stage.
Because in the past private land tended to be allocated around settlements or farmland,
the woodlot resource often covers forest, which is close to communities. They therefore
are influenced by urban (usually small town) pressures for outdoor recreation,
landscape conservation and watershed management. The growing expectations for multiple
objective management demands a higher level of management planning than most small-scale
owners have been used to undertaking. Some woodlot licensees however are well-qualified
professionals with broad interests and can be key players in taking forward innovative
management and co-operative projects. While I was in BC the first two areas of forest were
certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Woodlot licensees managed both.
The woodlot programme is run from the Ministry of Forests in Victoria which produces a
quarterly newsletter Woodlot License Link providing updates on policy and
regulations as well as information on extension programmes.
Associations and the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations
In the 1980s, with government encouragement, a number of Woodlot Associations were
established to promote co-operation between woodlot licensees and to help channel
extension and government support. The expansion of the woodlot programme in the latter
part of the 1990s together with the opportunity to access Forest Renewal BC funding,
reinvigorated their efforts in marketing, extension and management.
Some Associations are certainly more active than others. Relying largely on voluntary
effort by members and often covering considerable areas and scattered communities,
organisation usually falls to a handful of committed members. I visited two woodlot
associations on Vancouver Island and also the umbrella body The Federation of BC Woodlot
Associations in Williams Lake, central BC.
The Federation of BC Woodlot Associations (FBCWA) was founded in 1988 and currently
represents 27 Woodlot Associations with over 800 individual licensees. It is a non-profit
society funded primarily by contributions from each woodlot association ($35/ licensee)
and from other direct, associate and supporting members. Until recently, it was run on a
voluntary basis but this year employed a part time co-ordinator. The Federation lobbies
government on behalf of the woodlot licensees using membership contributions. Key issues
include the desire for continued expansion of the Woodlot Program; the negotiation of
appropriate level of stumpage for woodlot licenses and changes to the taxation system as
it applies to privately owned woodland. The Federation also administers provincial funding
for continued association building and distributes FRBC funding for silvicultural
operations and extension programmes managed by the woodlot associations.
The Woodlot Product Development Council (WPDC) is now funding a large proportion of the
work plan of the Federation. This is a distinct but closely associated organisation set up
in 1998 by the Federation with support from the Government. The WPDC collects and spends a
fund raised by a 25c/m3 levy on the AAC of all Woodlot licensees.
The WPDC has a Board of Directors comprised of six woodlot licensees, a representative
of the processing industries and a government representative. There is also one non-voting
government liaison position. A paid co-ordinator provides support to a volunteer
executive. The focus of the annual work plan and budget is informed by an annual
questionnaire to woodlot licensees but the levy funds cannot be used for lobbying
The Federation is a member of a wider Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners through
which Canada-wide policies of the Federal Government can be influenced. Certification and
federal wildlife conservation legislation are current subjects for influence.
The BC Community
Forest License Pilot Programme
( http://www.for.gov.bc.ca )
The benefits of having more community control over local forest resources have long
been unsuccessfully advocated in BC as a means to more effective multi-purpose and
socially sensitive management. A few communities had already been allocated standard
volume-based forest licenses including Revelstoke in 1993 and Kaslo in 1997 (see case
studies), but there has been increasing demand for more appropriate, area specific
In 1998 the provincial government finally passed legislation to pilot community forest
tenure. Invitations were made to municipalities, regional districts, First Nations (Native
American) bands, corporations, and other local organisations to submit competitive
proposals for a minimum of three pilot community forest agreements. These would provide a
more flexible form of tenure with a view to promoting sustainable community development
objectives, multiple resource management, environmental stewardship and encouraging
The new tenure agreement differs from existing tenures in a couple of important ways.
Firstly it allows the licensee wider control over the forest resource. Rather than being
limited to timber rights, the new agreements allow management of all botanical production
(e.g. including fungi, fruits, herbs, flowers etc.). They also allow the development of
other forest uses such as recreation, education and cultural heritage.
The pilot agreement is also more flexible on the amount and timing of timber harvests,
which can be altered to suit the community objectives, rather than simply contributing
pro-rata to regional timber targets. This gives some scope for more complex management
incorporating ecosystem approaches.
In setting up the pilot programme, the government was looking for examples covering a
range of communities, organisational structures and management proposals. Fairly detailed
proposals were required demonstrating broad community representation and accountability,
long term democratic management, business competence and financial viability.
The initial call for proposals brought in 87 formal expressions of interest and there
were 27 applications. In the end 7 proposals were accepted, two from corporations, one
from a municipality, 3 from registered societies and one from a First Nations band. Of the
projects selected, some concentrate on small-scale harvesting and environmental
certification for woodland products, one on training and developing educational resources
and one on more traditional value-adding to timber products. I visited two of these pilot
projects; one in Comox on Vancouver Island and the second at Harrop-Procter in the
Kootenays in south-east BC (see case studies).
British Columbia Case Studies
There are two-woodlot association on Vancouver Island; North and South Island Woodlot
Associations. Both have been in existence since the late 1980s and until recently, both
have been run primarily as a mechanism for providing extension services (technical
support) to small private forest owners and woodlot licensees. Although Vancouver Island
has been logged for over a century, it is only recently that attention has turned from
extractive logging towards establishing smaller, managed multi-objective secondary forest.
The introduction of the BC Forest Practice Code involves management planning and
silvicultural operations (planting, thinning and pruning) which are relatively new to
forest owners and woodlot licensees and compared to Scotland, the level of experience in
such matters is minimal.
The North Island Woodlot Association (NIWA) has been the more active in recent years,
growing in membership and looking to develop collaborative opportunities in marketing and
management and extension provision. The South Island Woodlot Association (SIWA) has been
less dynamic and is only now starting to pick up on new opportunities for association
building and extension possible through the FRBC funding. I visited representatives of
both and attended an SIWA field day visiting a number of properties.
South Island Woodlot Association
The South Island Woodlot Association is a registered society with voluntary office
bearers (President, Secretary and Treasurer). It covers an area of Vancouver Island from
Buckley Bay to Victoria - areas within easy reach of the population centres in Victoria
and Nanaimo. It has about twenty members including both woodlot licensees and private
landowners. The majority own relatively small areas of secondary softwood forest (Douglas
Fir, Western Red Cedar and Western Hemlock), with the largest having an Annual Allowable
Cut of about 300m3/year, The hardwood component of maple, alder and the localised
Garry oak is minor and is only now starting to be considered a potential
SIWA has some influential members including the chairperson of the Private Forest
Landowners Association and a couple of Ministry of Forests staff members. Until 1999 the
post of President was held by the forester of the local Malspina University College. The
college owns a woodlot, which includes demonstration areas used by the college and the
The Association holds field trips, hosts guest speakers and aims to share knowledge and
information on small-scale forestry. For the most part, the association has concentrated
on extension of practical forestry silviculture and discussing the planning and reporting
aspects of regulations. Shared concerns include the impact of government regulations and
land taxation on small scale forestry and problems related to recreation pressure and
vandalism at the urban/rural interface. The Association is also keen to press the
provincial government to make more woodlot licenses available.
The challenge for the Association is to extend membership, become more cohesive and
active and to access more land under woodlot licenses. To date, despite the fairly
influential membership, the Association has struggled to maintain effective communication
and co-ordination - perhaps because some members had other commitments and routes for
influence. A new president was appointed in 1999 and he is keen to re-invigorate the
association. A website has been created which has already attracted new members and market
interest for hardwoods.
North Island Woodlot Association
The North Island Woodlot Association was established as a not for profit society in
1987 to promote small-scale forestry and support private woodland and woodlot license
holders through education, demonstration and extension. Although like most woodlot
associations it relies entirely on voluntary effort it has been an active association and
a forerunner in BC. A number of members have been committed to promoting small-scale
forestry delivering what they call the tangible community based and personal
alternative between traditional large-scale industrial forestry and total
The NIWA is centred on Courtenay and the Comox Valley. Through recent association
building efforts supported by FBCWA funding, the Association can boast a membership of 402
individuals from 95 families, which includes a number of forestry professionals and
consultants with expertise in the full range of forestry and related skills. Membership is
open to anyone. Most hold private land or woodlot licenses but there are members without
land holdings who support the work. The Association has a five member Board of Directors
who are voted in by members at general meetings.
The NIWA has focused on
|providing training and extension in practical forestry and silviculture, |
|research including surveys of woodland owners resources and extension needs|
|business planning and marketing including a number of conferences and meetings relating
to wood processing, and local value adding |
|developing and accessing appropriate equipment and|
|consolidating the land base and tenure of small-scale forestry.|
Alongside field trips to members woodlots and local forestry businesses, the
Association has helped host an annual conference designed to link small-scale wood
producers with value adding secondary manufacturers. It has also organised workshops and
study groups on various subjects and initiated an information resource of books and videos
in the regional library with funding from the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations. The
NIWA produces an informative quarterly newsletter and recently created a website.
In 1996 the Association established a company, the North Island Woodlot Corporation
(NIWC) with a view to developing collaborative marketing opportunities and community based
forestry enterprises. The Governments Community Forest Pilot Programme was seen as a
key opportunity for developing these ideas and the NIWC submitted a successful proposal
for a Community Forest License in 1999 (see Comox Valley Community Forest case study).
The Community Forests
The following case studies include two community forests based on traditional forest
licenses (Revelstoke and Kaslo) and two of the new pilot community forest agreements
(Comox Valley Community Forest and Harrop-Procter Community Forest.
Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation
( http://www.rcfc.bc.ca )
Revelstoke is a small city of about 9000 people situated on the
Trans-Canada highway in southeastern British Columbia. Revelstoke is home to Mount
Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks and is successfully promoting itself as a wilderness
and outdoor recreation tourist centre. Forestry and tourism together account for half of
the economic activity in Revelstoke.
In 1992, a private company proposed selling a substantial tree farm licence in the area
to an out of town company with no local processing interests. Revelstoke has a long
established forest industry workforce and at a public meeting around 500 people opposed
the proposed sale. Faced with such local opposition, the Ministry of Forests agreed to
oppose the transfer on economic and social grounds for the first time.
The City saw this as an opportunity to get control of local resources and invested
$200,000 in the preparation of an alternative business proposal. Acting quickly, together
with three local industry partners, the City proposed the establishment of a city-managed
corporation working on half of the license area. Just four months after the initial
meeting, the license area was split and the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation (RCFC)
was established with 120,000ha of land and an annual allowable cut of 100,000m3
over 21,000 ha of operational forest.
The Mission Statement reads as follows
The Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation will manage and operate its Tree
Farm License in a manner that will enhance the forest resource while respecting the
principles of integrated use, environmental stewardship and public consultation; providing
the following community benefits on a sustainable basis:
|revenue to sustain the Corporation and support the community|
|local control of resources |
|local processing |
|local employment |
|forestry training and education |
|outdoor recreational activities |
|a lasting relationship with the land that comprise TFL 56|
The licence held only gives the RCFC rights to the timber resource, limiting direct
involvement in management for other uses. However, the forest management aims to provide
opportunities for multiple benefits in collaboration with other partners as appropriate.
The license is governed by the same regulations as any other privately held license except
that, rather than having to own processing capacity, the government required that a
proportion of their harvest was sold competitively on the open market. The other half is
sold at cost price to the local industry partners.
The RCFC took the innovative step of establishing a log-sorting yard. Rather than sell
the harvest in large mixed lots, the log yard sorts into smaller lots of specific types
and sizes. This was done primarily to get higher prices for high value timber and poles,
and also to encourage access by local specialist wood processors. Many in the industry
presumed that sorting would cost more in handling than would be realised by the higher
prices fetched. In fact, the log yard has proved very successful and sales are made both
locally and across Canada. The lots are advertised on the Internet. The log yard model is
being investigated by a number of other communities (including Comox Valley) in an effort
to increase returns and promote small scale value adding.
Revelstokes community forest has been managed effectively and successfully for
seven years despite a downturn in the industry as a whole. It is proving profitable and
repaying its financial investment by the City. Day to day management is by a team of five
reporting to a Board including local Councilors and three members of the public. The
Corporation liaises with a number of interest groups in developing management plans. In
general there is little direct public participation in reviewing plans despite continuing
deliberate efforts to encourage input. For the most part, if things seem to be going well,
local people are happy to leave it to the management. Local employment issues are still
paramount and the RCFC plays a key role in providing opportunities for local contract
employment and training. The Corporation is committed to undertaking environmentally
sensitive forestry and is now considering certification by the Forest Stewardship Council
as a means of demonstrating sustainable management and capturing more specific high value
The RCFC was established well before the current round of community forest license
pilots and has been inspirational and a source of reference for many of these. It is not
however the type of bottom-up community forests to which many of the new
projects aspire. It is essentially a local government managed forest with pragmatic
objectives and a necessary interest in the local economy. It has a very well prepared
website providing further detail on the history, corporate structure and management of the
The Kaslo and District Community Forest
In 1997 the town of Kaslo was awarded a (Community) Forest License with an Allowable
Annual Cut of 10,000m3. Jennifer Gunter (see contacts) has written up the story of the
Kaslo Community Forest as part of her dissertation for Simon Fraser University which uses
the case study to develop ideas about community capacity for forest management. This brief
resumé is largely taken from an interview with her and from her dissertation.
Kaslo is a small town of about 1000 people on the north shore of Kootenay Lake in the
Columbia Mountains of southeast BC. It was founded in the 1890s as a centre for silver
mining but, as the mining boom passed, became increasingly dependent on forestry. During
the 1980s the forest economy and the population declined considerably and since then the
economy has diversified with tourism becoming a mainstay. 22% of the population still work
in forestry or related industries.
The desire for local control of the surrounding forest started back in the 1980s when
local residents watched out of town contractors log the area and truck the logs out of the
valley. At that time local groups tried to obtain timber rights but were knocked back by
the provincial government. It was not until a Timber Supply Review in 1995 identified a
significant supply of unallocated timber in the district that the community interest in
local control was accepted as valid. The local response to early proposals for developing
a community forest showed overwhelming support. However, developing the proposal took over
a year of intense negotiation and local meetings undertaken by a volunteer Planning
Committee. A feasibility study was undertaken using FRBC funding and a non-profit society
The standard Forest License granted to the society had one important amendment, which
removed the usual requirement that the licensee link their allocated cut to a specific
mill. The license was still volume-based so did not impart any management rights to the
society other than for the timber.
In preparing the application the Planning Committee had proposed linking up with a
contracting company who would provide initial funding and manage the forest for the first
five years. The appointed board however felt that this diminished the legitimacy of the
community forest and looked for other sources of start-up capital. They eventually secured
a loan from a federal government community lending agency and agreed a second loan from a
local company in exchange for first right of refusal on 50% of the timber harvest.
The Kaslo Community Forest Society has a nine-member board, which includes two local
government appointees. The remainder of the board was selected from community applicants
using criteria aimed at getting a balance of interests and perspectives rather than
sectoral representation. This board model was devised to balance community values with
public accountability and it was hoped that it would reduce the adversarial dynamic that
tends to result from the sectoral model.
The board maintains a number of committees covering finance, education, recreation,
public relations and operations on which members of the public are invited to sit.
While the legal terms of the Forest License and the Societies Act are the binding
conditions, which limit the policies of the KCFS, the board recognised that these were
insufficient in themselves to constitute community forest policy. They have therefore
actively developed policies for the KCFS, which embody and assert principles of local
sustainability and multiple resource use. Jennifer Gunter (see contacts), in her
dissertation, dissects the legal and de facto (actual assumed) management rights of
the KCFS and analysis their implications for developing management responsibilities and
incentives. It is a useful type of analysis, which may be of interest to others developing
The Community Forest has been operational since its inception undertaking inventories,
biodiversity assessments, water quality monitoring, recreation trail construction (by
volunteers) worker training (using FRBC funding) and logging. It employs a Forest
Supervisor and Field Assistant and uses contractors for road building, logging and
hauling. The KCFS is keen to ensure that sufficient information is collected to inform
decisions on harvesting plans in sensitive areas for wildlife or landscape or in
watersheds. 28% of the supply area covers domestic water supply watershed but this
contains 40% of the harvestable volume. To date cutting has avoided highly sensitive areas
but at some stage they will have to tackle areas which impact more directly on the
The limitations of what is essentially a standard Forest License are evident. The KCFS
are unanimous that the tenure should be longer term (currently it is a 15 year
non-replaceable license) and should be specific to an area, rather than a volume within a
wider timber-supply area. The AAC is also set at standard levels, which leaves little room
for more environmentally sensitive management. The current level of 10,000m3 does however
give the KCFS major licensee status and a voice in decisions affecting the wider Timber
It is presumed that at some stage the KCFS will be able to have the terms of their
license reviewed to be more in line with the new pilot community forest licenses that have
There are continuing challenges for the KCFS. Views and ideals for forest management
vary within the community but the KCFS expect that, through extensive consultation and
demonstration, a pragmatic consensus and a degree of trust in KCFS management can be
attained. An education programme, including a school curriculum, is being devised to
increase the level of knowledge and understanding of the community about the forest.
The structure and composition of the organisation will need to continue to adapt as the
organisation evolves and the degree of voluntary board effort will need to be reduced.
Recruiting experienced board members may be problematic in a small town if there is not to
be a conflict of interest between contracted parties and the board. A clear tension also
exists between the desire to function efficiently in meeting financial obligations (i.e.
start up loans) through timber harvesting, while maintaining an acceptable balance of
non-timber values. There is also a need to prioritise how revenues should be invested
e.g., in developing value-added business.
The Comox Valley Community Forest
The North Island Woodlot Corporation a business arm of the North Island Woodlot
Association (see NIWA case study) was awarded a Community Forest license as one of the
seven projects in the pilot programme. The main characteristics of their proposal were a
mix of public and private land and emphasis on multiple benefits, value adding and
stewardship. Members of the NIWA developed the detailed proposal entirely through
The Comox Valley, situated halfway up Vancouver Island on the east coast, has a
population of over 71,000. The valley has a long tradition of forest industries once
boasting the biggest logging operation in the British Empire. The economy has started to
diversify as a retirement town with a growing tourism and service industry and a Canadian
Forces Base. About 1400 people are still employed in the forest industry and there is a
large sawmill and a number of smaller processing facilities. Most timber still leaves the
valley as unprocessed logs.
When the invitation to submit proposals for Community Forest Pilot Agreement was made,
two local residents groups were considering proposals to manage their surrounding Crown
land to maintain water supply, recreation and quality of life benefits and to prevent
threatened clearcutting. The NIWA meanwhile was primarily interested in bringing a larger
area of forest into sustainable small-scale management so strengthening the forestry
economy and contributing to collaborative log sorting, marketing and value adding
initiatives. The NIWA undertook a considerable public notification and awareness-raising
exercise of their initial proposals and, through stakeholders meeting, brought
together the various groups into one umbrella bid. Alongside three areas of Crown land
totaling 715ha, the proposal also attracted participation agreements from 22 private and
non-industrial forest landowners with over 3,300ha of land.
The goals of the Community Forest include:
|The sustainable development of the Comox Valley forests through balanced integration of
the social, economic and environmental values|
|Community control and the creation of a local forum to discuss and resolve management
|Identification of the full range of forest values and provision for multi-purpose use|
|Provision of a model for effective management of the interface between working forests
and human settlements|
|A labour intensive timber harvesting and silviculture industry|
|Development of a solid economic base which will allow future generations to make a
living off the forestry resource|
|Establishment of local, small, labour intensive specialty mills and value-added wood
The proposal emphasizes ecosystem based planning, localised control, responsibility and
stewardship, shared services and information, and the maintenance of access, biodiversity
and non-timber forest products.
The Directors of the NIWC are appointed by the NIWA Board and will fix budgets and
define operational objectives. These will be delegated to a Management Board comprised of
single representatives from each community group and one or two members appointed by the
NIWC. If, as proposed, the activities of the Community Forest expand into the private
landholdings, a further board member may be added to represent them.
Public involvement beyond the groups involved will be through a broad-based non-voting
Community Advisory Committee. Any group with an interest in the Community Forest will be
invited to name representatives to the advisory committee.
The Community Forest has proposed a timber cut of 2000m3 which is at the low end of the
range given for the area. This allows for ecological conservation and landscape
considerations. In common with a number of small-scale forestry ventures in BC, they are
also keen to develop botanical and non-timber forest products. The annual mushroom
harvest, together with salal (a native shrub used for floral arrangements), is valued at
$140,000, well beyond the value of a sustainable timber harvest. These are already being
harvested to some extent by local people and it may prove difficult for the Community
Forest to control or receive income from this source. They aim to recuperate 10% of this
value by year six of the project.
The one major setback to the Community Forest is the response from the First Nations.
In the mid 1990s, the First Nations in BC won legal support for their claim that there was
no valid treaty transferring their land rights to the Crown. This essentially allows them
to lay claim to large areas of British Columbia and there are ongoing legal and political
negotiations to try to resolve the issue. The upshot is that, while they may be supportive
of groups involved in improving stewardship and promoting local development, they cannot
sensibly agree to new tenures being granted on land for which they are negotiating.
This may put a halt to the allocation of the actual Community Forest License. In the
meantime however it is likely that many of the collaborative ventures and developments
proposed will go ahead.
The Comox Valley Community Forest is undoubtedly an ambitious and groundbreaking
proposal for BC. It relies on a community of professional, visionary and hard working
people who are committed to the area and to a new type of forest management. It has a
solid support base in the NIWA and the respect of the wider public and local economic
Harrop Procter Community Forest
The Harrop Procter Community Forest was awarded one of the seven Community Forest Pilot
Agreements. The communities of Harrop and Procter are on the west arm of Kootenay Lake
reached by a short ferry journey from outside the town of Nelson in South East BC. The
resident population of 650 nearly doubles in the summer months with summer cottage owners
drawn to the recreation opportunities at the lake and the island-like feel to the
The forest is particularly important for domestic water supply and the residents have
been active in demanding full public participation in plans for logging of the area since
1976. They have effectively argued against various attempts to impose logging plans in,
what was once described by the Ministry of Forests as, the largest area of good
timber left in the Southern Interior of BC. In 1984 they set up the Harrop Procter
Community and Watershed Protection Committee and started to collect information and
develop their own plans for appropriate forestry. Well ahead of their time they were
looking for integrated management, biodiversity and watershed protection, value adding and
local control. They also helped to set up a strategic level alliance developing plans for
the wider area.
In 1992 the community put forward a bid to establish a Model Forest as part of the
federal programme for model forests across Canada. This was eventually rejected.
In 1995 the watershed was left out of the West Arm Wilderness Area which was
established around the community leaving Harrop-Procter still a priority for logging
In 1996 the Harrop-Procter Watershed Protection Society was established to develop a
proposal for one of the earlier volume-based community forest licenses (such as Kaslo and
Revelstoke were awarded). The mandate of the Society was to act as a steward and
increase employment for the Harrop-Procter watershed through ecologically based land
use. The 1996 bid was unsuccessful. In developing plans for a Community Forest
members visited every household in the community to explain the proposal and elicit
support. 60% of the residents are now members of the society, which has continued to
develop plans, produce newsletters and hold public meetings to inform and involve the
community. They were finally successful in being awarded a Community Forest License this
To manage the Community Forest the Society set up a Co-operative Association with a
ten-member board comprised of Society and other community members. Membership of the
Co-operative is open to all adult residents. A Management Committee will work with a
contracted forest manager and administrative assistant.
Very detailed ecosystem-based forest management plans have been developed by Silva
Forestry Foundation, who are a well known and long-established organisation that has been
promoting ecologically based forestry for some time. They are also the only registered
Forest Stewardship Council certifier in BC. The proposed cut is a small proportion of what
would be the annual allowable cut under a traditional forest license and watershed
protection; biodiversity conservation and local amenity remain clear objectives.
Business proposals for the forest include:
|Sales of eco-certified timber and lumber to value-added manufacturers and to the public,
by utilizing existing small local sawmills and direct log sales. Currently the BC demand
for eco-certified timber is being filled by imports from California! The annual cut
proposed is 2700m3, much less than would be normal under Standard Forest License tenure
but still a significant supply. They hope also to establish craft-tree licenses allowing
local craftspeople to select and harvest a small number of trees for specialised, high
|Creation of a value-adding manufacturing plant, producing consumer goods and giftware
designed by students and graduates of the Kootenay School of the Arts Wood Design Program,
the BC Centre for Wood Products Design, and other local designers. These products will be
|(a) Development of an agroforestry business, integrating wild-grown herbs and plants
from the Harrop-Procter forest lands with commercially grown organic herbs from the
farmlands in Harrop-Procter in order to provide bulk, dried herbs to local, national and
U.S. markets. |
|(b) Production of medicinal tinctures and balms made with herbs, fungi and plants
harvested from the Harrop-Procter Community Forest and herbs grown in the local area.
Residents have also expressed an interest in growing agricultural food products for this
|Environmentally low impact tourism. This project includes the upgrading of forest trails
and perhaps the construction of tree houses for hikers to stay in.|
The Harrop Procter Community Forest is deliberately maintaining a simple, local,
community-based approach to forestry while at the same time being technically proficient
and innovative in its attempt to integrate land and other community resources in holistic
management. It is proving itself a catalyst for wider social and economic development of
the area attracting interest from local farmers producing organically certified products,
an eco-builder who wants to set up a business using local timber, and an annual story
Bella Coola and the Central Coast
400km west of Williams Lake a gravel road makes a 6000ft decent from the ranching
country of the central Chilcotin plateau into the Bella Coola valley. The town of Bella
Coola lies at the end of the valley and at the head of a long sea inlet. This is where Sir
Alexander Mackenzie first sighted ocean after crossing Canada in 1793. The central coast
area, which surrounds Bella Coola, covers 4.8 million ha of largely uninhabited
hinterland. It has a population of less than 5000 people, half of whom are First Nations
of the Nuxalk and Heitsuk bands.
Salmon canning and logging have been the primary industries for most of this century.
The closure of a pulp mill in 1980 and the steady decline and rationalisation
of the coastal fishing industry have left very high unemployment and virtually 100% youth
unemployment in the area.
The central coast forest is made up of typical West Coast species (Douglas Fir, Sitka
Spruce and Western Hemlock) with increasing oceanicity towards the coast. The mountains
are steep sided and only 12% of the land base is considered available for timber
harvesting. There have however been several major license holders active in the area and
much of the accessible timber has already been logged - with sawlogs shipped out of the
district to Vancouver for processing. One estimate suggests that, in the period 1983
-1994, timber worth over $4billion dollars to the Canadian economy has left the area.
Of the major license holders, only Interfor are still active and most of their work
over the next few years will involve their silviculture obligations on cutover sites or
heli-logging of individual high value trees. With the current downturn in the timber
market the companies are turning towards more accessible and profitable areas.
Only 11% of Bella Coola residents now work in forest harvesting and much of this work
is seasonal and insecure. There are still a number of small businesses in the area often
handlogging operations working small patches of quality stands on the many
inlets in the coastline. However, with the major licensees controlling the bulk of the
timber areas, there is a shortage of annual allowable cut to be apportioned under the
small business programme. Only six sales were made last year and competition in tendering
for the areas made them largely unprofitable. The number of companies registered with the
small business programme in the area has dropped recently from 80 to 30.
There is one small sawmill in the Bella Coola Valley but otherwise little in the way of
value adding. There is no kiln drying facility and this limits the development of finished
products. Until recently, the small business logging community has made little attempt to
co-operate in developing the industry locally. They have recently formed a marketing
co-operative but the limited supply of timber available means that this has not had a
chance to operate.
There are edible fungi in the central coast forest especially pine mushrooms and
chanterelles and local people can make good money from fungi collecting for a few weeks
each autumn. This remains an unregulated activity on Crown land.
Given the history of resource exploitation and lack of investment in local capacity,
the Bella Coola Valley has been pushing for a community forest for over ten years. The
pilot community forest licenses were considered a major opportunity and the regional
district submitted a proposal.
The First Nations communities in Bella Coola and Bella Bella put forward their own
proposals. Both are currently involved in treaty negotiations with the province over their
rights to the land in question, and were therefore unable to support the regional district
proposal, which anyway did not adequately address their priorities. The Nuxalk First
Nations band are developing a forestry strategy with funding from the Federal
Governments First Nation Forestry Programme (www.fnfp.gc.ca) and are looking to the
forest resource to help support wider initiatives to help reinforce their sense of
community and share the value of their culture. Amongst other projects they have been
trying to develop a joint venture with one of the forestry companies to initiate a
community-based forestry program and get funding for a timber drier.
What became apparent during the preparation of the community forestry proposals was how
little timber was actually still available for allocation over the next decade. The small
business operators in the valley were also wary of any timber allocation to a community
forest license, which may reduce the volume available through the SBFEP.
None of the bids was successful.
Despite this setback, the Regional District continues to recognise the value of local
control over local resources. With minimal financial resources they cannot conceivably
purchase the few areas of private land or the rights of the large license holders. Any
future project will therefore require co-ordination and co-operation to make the best of
what little resource is available.
They are developing a manufacturer database to match manufacturers wood needs to
local suppliers. They are also developing a Wood Co-operative for value-adding
entrepreneurs who wish to solidify and share infrastructure, education and training. Both
are funded by FRBC. Other co-operative ventures by the existing small businesses would
make sense and the MoF is trying to maintain and expand the area available under this
programme. The district is currently considering developing a deep-sea port in connection
with controversial gravel mining proposals in the area and this would provide much easier
direct market outlets for finished timber products.
Other possibilities to develop the region are being considered. Bella Coola is very
beautiful, with majestic snow capped mountains, clear glacial rivers, Tweedsmuir National
Park and opportunities for ecotourism - wilderness hiking, fishing, and hunting, kayaking
etc. However such things are in abundance in beautiful British Columbia and
Bella Coola is isolated and has no public transport access. A recent summertime ferry
service stops in at Bella Coola en route up the Discovery Passage from Vancouver Island to
Prince Rupert which will help provide seasonal service sector work. While forest
operations may impact on tourism, they also provide access for recreation in what would
otherwise be largely inaccessible wilderness. This suggests scope for collaborative
planning between timber license holders and people who may wish to develop recreational
Environmental organisations such as Greenpeace and Forest Action Network ( www.fanweb.org ) have been campaigning
for the development of the Great Bear Rainforest in the mid coast region,
demanding an end to clear cutting and protection of large areas. Past logging has had a
major impact on the rivers and riparian areas and is widely held as a contributing factor
in the decline of the salmon fishing industry up and down the coast. It is also being
recognised that the salmon rivers are a key feature in the forest ecosystem; the annual
spawning salmon providing a major nutrient input to the forest fauna, from grizzly bears
to invertebrates. Local support for the Great Bear Rainforest is not particularly
widespread although some groups within the First Nations community have backed the idea in
support of their ongoing land negotiations.
While a large-scale park seems unlikely at present, it is fairly certain that future
logging will have to meet increasingly tighter landscape and environmental standards.
Logging practices will undoubtedly improve with the application of the BC Forest Practice
Code. The Ministry of Forests is recommending a move away from large-scale clear cuts and
the rehabilitation of degraded riparian areas. Visual Quality Objectives are
being set within an overall land use plan for the central coast.
Clearly Bella Coola is experiencing the downside of having been subject to external
control and the exploitation and export of its forest capital. It also illustrates that
with diverse interest and degraded resources it is not easy to develop shared goals and
Quebec Case Studies
Quebec is Canadas largest province with a vast area extending north above the
major population centres of Montreal, Hull and Quebec City. It has 60% forest cover and,
as in British Columbia, a large part (90%) of the productive forest resource is public.
For the most part this is leased to major industrial forestry companies on 25-year leases.
Gradually the industrial interests are concentrating into a few big players and extending
north, further into the boreal forest - the forestry is moving north and the
decision makers are moving south. Environmental pressures are mounting however and a
northern limit to expansion has been agreed. Recently a popular Quebec folk singer made a
film exposing industrial forestry practices, which created a major public backlash against
the industry. Tenure conditions are being revised but the emphasis is still on impact
mitigation rather than on integrated resource management.
Quebec has a long history of European settlement dating back to the 1500s so private
land is long established. The private forest resource covers about 6 million hectares
about a third of which is managed. It is mostly broad-leaved and mixed woodland situated
in the south of the province alongside much of the population and agriculture. There are
about 120,000 private forest owners and of these 40,000 are registered as wood producers
with access to government programmes.
In 1956 the government set up agricultural product marketing boards and timber was
included, since much of the private forest was associated with farms. The marketing board
is still in existence and continues to arrange private woodland supply quotas for
processing industries and set local fibre prices.
Woodland owners are often farmers (32%) but there are a growing number of white and
blue-collar workers owning forestland. Most holdings are of 60ha. Motivation for ownership
is varied but few owners have timber as their main income. 13,000 owners are producing
maple syrup and this sector is growing.
The Forest Venture Groups
In 1972 against a trend of rural exodus and increasing urbanisation, public pressure
persuaded the government to develop forestry objectives aimed at supporting rural
forest-dependent communities. In order to support private forestry efficiently, woodland
owners were encouraged to form groups of 100 or more. These forest venture groups, as they
came to be known, were the sole channel for access to provincial funding which, until
1989, provided 100% of management costs for private woodland.
There are now 44 forest venture groups with 22,000 members working in over 700
municipalities. They are providing management and technical services for grouped areas of
forestland. Most are registered as companies with members as shareholders, a couple are
co-operatives but, in general, the groups have non-profit making objectives. Individual
owners do set priorities for their own land and can arrange an appropriate level of
services from the group. Services are paid for through a stumpage fee on timber
harvesting. The Bas-Saint-Laurent Model Forest (see case study) incorporates one such
forest venture group, Le Groupement Forestier de lEst du Lac Témiscouata, covering
six municipalities and 700 private woodland owners.
Thirty out of the forty-four groups provide and market their services beyond their
members, working in public, municipal or other private woodland. The groups are also
developing market and processing opportunities and managing conservation and multiple
resource use programmes in recreation, agroforestry (maple syrup, domestic stock and
essential oils) and wildlife (e.g. deer stalking). The groups currently provide work for
about 7000 people (including 2500 owners) and generate revenues totaling $121 million. The
Forest Venture Groups need to continue to attract new members. The average age of owners
is increasing and it is difficult to attract and retain young people in rural areas.
RESAM (Regroupement des Sociétés dAménagement Forestier du Québec)
RESAM provides an overall co-ordinating role for the 44 groups. It is funded by the
groups and lobbies for their interests at a provincial level. Particular issues include
changes to taxation mechanisms, which discourage forest investment and sensitive
management. RESAM also provides services for the groups administering central funding,
developing information support services, managing particular projects and helping them to
adapt to their changing needs, evolving policy context and market opportunities.
In 1995, stimulated by the withdrawal of Federal funding for private forestry there was
a major summit to review the role of private woodland within a sustainable development
agenda. This resulted in the setting up of 17 regional partnership agencies to develop the
private forest resource for multiple objectives. These partnerships consist of the
Department of Forest, the local private forest venture groups, the forest (processing)
industry and the municipalities. They have developed co-financing agreements aimed at
reducing government funding from 100% to 60% requiring contributions from industry (20%)
and the private owners themselves (20%). The municipalities are providing various
facilitating measures, in particular, reviewing local regulations governing forests
(amenity, access etc). The regional groups are developing locally appropriate objectives
and mechanisms for protection, planning and adding value to the private forests.
Maintaining forest-dependent communities in rural areas is a key objective.
The challenges for the private forestry sector continue. Translating environmentally
and socially sustainable forestry policy into practice on the ground is a gradual process.
The range of management and ownership objectives is broad and developing a forest
management culture and industry beyond simply harvesting, will be important. There is a
need for better inventory and planning, for extension and training of owners and for
product and service diversification. The partnership concept is also quite new and the
private owners need to learn to play politics in the regional groups. The role of RESAM as
a co-ordinating body for the forest venture groups will also need to evolve as the
regional groups take on more of the delivery of development Planning.
The Bas-Saint-Laurent Model Forest
This is one of a series of Model Forests set up by the federal government in 1992 as a
contribution to taking forward the sustainable forests agenda of the Rio Earth Summit
(www.modelforest.net). There are 11 model forests throughout Canada covering a range of
circumstances and forest types. The first phase of the programme aimed to bring
stakeholders together in partnership to develop strong relationships and shared
sustainable goals. The second phase (1997-2002) is focusing on implementation of shared
work plans, the development of innovative projects and ideas, and communicating the
results of the work.
The Bas-St-Laurent Model Forest covers 113,100 hectares of private, mixed forest in
eastern Quebec. It incorporates three distinct areas. One is the area controlled by a
venture forest group and two form the basis of an innovative forest tenant project. The
forests are near the town of Rimouski on the south side of the St Laurent River in eastern
Quebec. The countryside around Rimouski is small arable and livestock farms and areas of
mixed maple, balsam fir and yellow birch woodland. The rural population has a high rate of
seasonal unemployment especially among the young.
The Model Forest incorporates three principle sponsors, the forest venture group, and
the wood marketing board, a corporate forestry company and landowner and Laval University
in Quebec City. They are managing a number of projects and an associated research agenda
looking into the environmental, social and economic issues surrounding the work.
The forest tenant project is an exercise in rural regeneration based on forestry. Two
areas of selectively logged (creamed) corporate-owned forest were divided into 27 areas of
about 1000 ha and the tenancies advertised to local people. Three hundred and forty six
people applied for the 27 places. Applicants were selected on a number of criteria
including their forestry experience, entrepreneurship, and attitude towards innovation and
interest in teamwork. The actual sites were allocated by consensus, managing to suit most
tenants interests and objectives for involvement. Some parts of the area are managed
in common by all tenants for conservation and watershed management objectives. The project
has been running successfully for five years.
The tenants have agreed to work for 26 weeks each year on their land and give up their
entitlement to unemployment benefit throughout the rest of the year (this cannot be
legally binding but has been accepted). Income comes from timber sales (pulpwood arranged
through the timber marketing board), subsidies for silvicultural work (from the regional
private forest development agency and provincial government) and profits from hunting and
fishing and by subcontracting work from other tenant farmers. They pay stumpage on a set
level of harvest which pays for taxes and forest protection services, provides a return to
the landowner, can be reinvested into other projects (conservation etc.) on the land, and
contributes to a compensation fund.
The agreement to work 26 weeks of the year on their own land effectively rules out
investment in new machinery to improve productivity. This was a deliberate clause by the
model forest who wanted to demonstrate that forestry could be profitable without becoming
so capital intensive that it excluded people. It is a controversial clause which some
tenants, who are subcontracting other work, would rather was omitted. Most however are
happy with the conditions imposed. Only a handful of tenants (5) have dropped out of the
scheme (not all because they were unhappy with the project) and there is still high demand
for places that come available.
The forestry tenancies are not subsidised beyond what is available to any other private
owner and the Model Forest is keen to show that the tenancy model is transferable
throughout lower Quebec. It has already been copied in other areas.
Acknowledgments and Contacts
I am most grateful to the Millennium Forest for Scotland Trust, The Millennium
Commission and the Forestry Commission for sponsoring the award. Also to the following
people who provided me with contacts, interviews and information in Canada
Thanks to Alan Hampson (SNH) for mentoring the project, Ernest Law at MFST for managing
the award and to Reforesting Scotland for lending me their slide pack. Also to the many
relatives and friends in Canada for being such fine hosts and lending cars etc. Finally to
Anna Kenny for support and forebearance, without whom.