Whistler is one step closer to getting into the forestry
business with neighbouring First Nations.
The three partners — the resort municipality of Whistler,
Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation — have been invited to submit an
application for a Probationary Community Forest Agreement from the provincial
minister of forests and range, Rich Coleman.
“We’re very excited about it,” said Heather Beresford,
environmental stewardship manager with the municipality.
“It’s been a long time coming.”
The formal letter inviting the partners to apply arrived Feb.
14. They now have 150 days to submit their application to the province.
The municipality has been working on the project since April
“Were very confident that we’ll get it,” said Beresford, adding
that the partnership with First Nations is a very strong working relationship.
The partners are working with the non-profit organization
Ecotrust Canada to custom design an ecosystem-based management forestry plan
with a sustainable harvest level that will not harm sensitive habitat or
destroy viewscapes, scenery and Aboriginal cultural values. The operation will
harvest trees surrounding Whistler.
While the forestry industry in B.C. is facing many challenges
right now, Beresford said their intent is to create a thriving business.
“We are not going to be operating at a loss,” she said.
Any profits will be funneled back into the business.
Community forests are intended to stimulate long-term
employment, forest-related education and skills training, as well as other
social, environmental and economic benefits, while meeting environmental
stewardship standards. After the initial term of five years, the agreements may
be extended for another five years or replaced with a 25-year long-term
Last month the province awarded probationary community forest agreements to Slocan, Nakusp, Kaslo and Houston.