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New concept of community forests underway in West Boundary

West Boundary residents are learning about what it will be like to own a community forest through a consultation process underway in the area.

Recent public meetings were held in both Greenwood and Midway to give locals a chance to hear about the proposed community forest and voice concerns. The session in Greenwood was attended by nearly 20 people, said mayor Nipper Kettle.

“There were  a few citizens from the Jewel lake  area who were concerned about the viewscape and how much logging would take place as well as truck traffic on the road,” said Kettle. “The group did their best to assure the wood lot owners and the owner of Jewel Lake Resort  the community forest would be the way to go and they would have many other opportunities for input. I think it would also work as a fire protection for the residents also by selectively logging and creating a buffer zone.”

The overall cost of operating the community forest is unclear as the proposal process is still in early development, added mayor Randy Kappes from Midway. Estimates from other established B.C. community forests range from $20,000 to $100,000 annually, depending on amount of volunteer work done and staff time given by the municipalities. The expenses will be shared between the partnering communities.

“The public seems quite supportive once they get a feel for what a community forest (CF) is and can offer,” said Kappes. “There was one member of the public at the Midway meeting quite interested in the educational potential and what it could mean for local schools. After a good deal of discussion about opportunities for public input once the CF is formed and the fact that the CF board must get area input and concerns, and wishes to work with the area to manage the CF correctly around areas of concern, I believe even the Jewel Lake contingent were cautiously optimistic about the project.”

The public consultations are a part of the process to prepare the application to the Ministry of Lands, Forests and Natural Resources which is due in September of this year. The expenses will be from the formation of the corporation that will legally manage the community forest and the preparation of the application, Kappes explained.

Greenwood appointed councillor  Lee Cudworth as their director to the community forest. “Lee is a very experienced logger who has lived in Greenwood all his life and has run his own logging show for many years,” said Kettle.

The concept of a community forest was first introduced in B.C. in 1945. Between 1976 and the late 1990’s, only a handful of community forests were established in the province. These included: Revelstoke, Kaslo, and Creston. Each of these communities held industrial forms of forest tenure—a Tree Farm Licence in the case of Revelstoke, and 15-Year volume based Forest Licences in Kaslo and Creston. Today there are over 52 forest involved in the community forest programs in B.C.

A community forest can be described as any forestry operation managed by a local government, community group, First Nation or community-held corporation for the benefit of the entire community. Community forestry involves the three pillars of sustainable development: social, ecological, and economic sustainability. At its core, community forestry is about local control over and enjoyment of the benefits offered by local forest resources. 

The communities continue to move forward with the project and residents interested in more information can contact Kappes at the Village of Midway or Cudworth in Greenwood.

Links:

For more information on Community forests go to: www.bccfa.ca  

Or review the guide book located at: www.forrex.org/publications/forrexseries/fs15.pdf . 

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