Community forests are an important and growing opportunity for communities, supporting new options in recreation, wildlife and watershed management. What is a community forest and what will a community forest mean for Tumbler Ridge?
Tumbler Ridge lobbied for several years before the District was invited to apply for a community forest license. MLA Blair Lekstrom and Forests Minister Michael de Jong made the announcement in March 2005. ?Today?s announcement gives this region a new opportunity for economic diversification,? said Lekstrom. ?This creates new employment, skills training and revenues that can be funnelled back into the community to meet its needs and goals.?
In British Columbia, a community forest can be described as any forestry operation managed by a local government, community group, or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community. For Tumbler Ridge this means that in the probationary stages of the community forest, there is an annual allowable harvesting volume of 20 000m3. This harvesting has the potential to generate income through responsible logging while providing for enhanced recreational opportunities. The scope of community forest operations includes many important values that will impact key aspects of our lives. Council has appointed a number of residents to serve on a steering committee that is tasked with the job of managing the process required to prepare an application for Provincial Government to acquire this license. The driving force behind this project is Mayor and Council, and they are working with the steering committee to see this application completed.
Provincially,about 1.2 million cubic meters of timber will be available for small tenures such as community forests and woodlots, with the intention of increasing the participation of communities and First Nations in managing local forests and to create sustainable jobs, the provincial government amended the forest act in 1998. Not all community forests are managed as working forests. Of the ones who do manage working forests many sell their harvested timber to local manufacturing plants, although some operate secondary manufacturing facilities and log yards that sell to the highest bidder. Examples of this include the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation.
In Tumbler Ridge this project requires community support and community input to succeed. Your comments will be vital to the final approval of the Community Forest application by the Minister of Forests. Once community input has been received, an open house will be held.