Healthy forest forum in the works for Nov. 5

A Healthy Forests - Healthy Communities workshop will be held at the Wells Gray Inn in Clearwater on Saturday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m.

“Think about the tenure changes that occurred in the Valley after Weyerhaeuser left. No one was consulted here.”

That was just one of the issues that local woodlot owner Bas Delaney hopes will be addressed during a Healthy Forests – Healthy Communities workshop to be held at the Wells Gray Inn on Saturday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m. Facilitator for the forum will be Clearwater-based forest professional Sandy Mackenzie.

The Healthy Forests – Healthy Communities initiative is supported by a variety of organizations, including Canadian Institute of Forestry, Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, and BC Forests Society.

It is described as a non-partisan, volunteer-supported initiative to catalyze dialog with natural resource experts and local communities (including members of the forestry profession, Aboriginals, community advocates, conservationists, youth and concerned citizens) to enable informed decision making about the forests of British Columbia.

Workshops took place last June in Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, Grand Forks, Midway, Squamish and Vancouver (in the UBC Forestry Sciences Center).

At least another 16 are taking place this fall, including the one planned for Clearwater.

“We want to answer several questions,” said Delaney. “How well is the community surviving? What about economic stability in the community? How do we bring about economic change?”

The summer sessions produced several common themes, including:

• communities want more influence in forestlands decisions;

• communities need to be more informed of the state of local forestlands;

• communities are concerned regarding the future of local forestlands; and

• communities want a viable and sustainable forest industry that meets their needs.

Delaney pointed out that there now is a critical shortage of truck loggers – a symptom of the boom-and-bust cycles in the forest industry.

Too often, when people talk about sustainable forest management, they mean only what’s happening with the trees.

Other factors, such as the economic and social costs and benefits, also need to be factored in.

“Who’s speaking for the social values in the community?” he asked.

Key suggested actions identified at the HFHC community dialogue sessions include:

1) Clarify the vision for B.C. forestlands, both provincially and regionally;

2) Updated legal framework to guide forest management;

3) Systems for communities to be active in local/regional forest management and land use decision-making to meet their needs;

4) Clarity on the current and projected condition of B.C. forestlands, provincially, locally and regionally;

5) Build a forest culture in B.C. through education and involvement of citizens, and build trust in decision-makers;

6) Build mechanisms to finance actions for maintaining and possibly enhancing the forestlands asset;

7) Enhance viable and sustainable mechanisms to integrate First Nations into the forest sector; and

8) Establish viable and sustainable mechanisms to encourage the forest sector.

Further information about the Healthy Forests – Healthy Communities initiative, including background papers, is available at http://bcforestconversation.com.