Susan Mulkey, communications and extension manager with B.C. Community Forest Association, is impressed with Wells Gray Community Forest.
“I think you guys have made remarkable progress,” she said. “Much credit goes to the core group, which has been steadfast since the beginning.”
Mulkey was in Clearwater last week working with the community forest on governance issues and developing policies.
“There is no cookie-cutter for community forests,” she said. “There is no model to copy in starting one up. Every community is different, with different rules, cultures and environment.”
There is variation in how community forests in B.C. are set up and run, and more variation still between community forests in Canada and those in other countries.
For example, in Nepal, collecting bark to make paper with is an important activity. Here, such non-timber forest products are only a small component of what community forests do.
“You’re not going to get a laid-off logger out picking berries,” commented Mulkey.
While in Clearwater, Mulkey brought templates on policies based on what other community forests are doing regarding such things as conflict of interest and board of directors’ recruitment.
“She made us realize how much we’ve moved from where we were. It just takes time,” commented WGCF board member Sharon Neufeld.
The communications and extension manager helped write the community forest handbook for B.C. a few years ago and has assisted Valemount and Tumbler Ridge, said Wells Gray Community Forest Corporation president Ted Richardson.
She therefore was a natural choice to help the community forest with governance and policy questions.
“She’s a very knowledgeable person and a great contact,” said Richardson.
Some policies are already in place, he said. For example, the community forest has a policy to give priority to local contractors.
Other policies, such as how to replace members of the board, still need work.
“We need a rational way to replace board members that includes public input, but we need balance,” said Richardson.