Community forest in fourth year

The West Boundary Community Forest, four years in the making, was formerly approved at last month's UBCM convention.

The West Boundary Community Forest is spread throughout the West Boundary

Sarah Dalziel – Special to the Boundary Creek Times

 

A member of the Boundary Woodlot Association contacted the Times to request a correction. The print version of this article referred to woodlots, but should have more accurately called them woodlands as woodlots are licensed and governed separately from community forests.

 

Midway, Westbridge, Phoenix and Jewel Lake, what do these communities have in common? They all have woodlands within the West Boundary Community Forest. The community forest is a vehicle for sustainable forestry, community awareness, and community involvement in the forest industry. The West Boundary Community Forest is in its fourth year of development, but has only recently had the agreement ratified by the province.

The community forest is a joint venture between the Village of Midway and the City of Greenwood. Members of both councils are currently on the board of directors. This joint ownership reflects the reality of the Community Forest. It is a joint venture and involves woodlands throughout the West Boundary. The other unique aspect of joint ownership is that each city is equally involved in decision-making and nothing can be done without full consensus.

There are currently over 40 community forests in BC, according to the BC Community Forest Association website. Community forests are often managed by a board of directors sourced from the community closest to, and most involved in the forest. Part of the initiative involves raising awareness about forestry, logging, and natural resource issues. Community forests focus on sustainability, while managing harvesting to preserve viewscapes, vulnerable watersheds, and other regional resources. The Community Forest committee and resources also help to address local concerns with forestry and forest management.

The West Boundary Community Forest woodlands are spread throughout the West Boundary. There are woodlands at Jewel Lake, Phoenix, Westbridge, and Midway. These woodlots are just beginning to be managed through the Community Forest initiative. The goal is sustainable forest management, which includes raising local awareness about our natural forest resources.

The journey to form a community forest began four years ago through a governmental application process. Since then, the community forest committee has had a long journey to succeed in establishing not only the idea of a community forest, but woodlots dedicated to sustainable management throughout the West Boundary.

The journey has included applications, studies, and meeting government requirements before the West Boundary Community Forest could begin management. The journey is not yet completed, and the Community Forest Committee is still looking into different management practices. Management options range from having an individual manager, to employing a dedicated forestry management company.

Now the question remains, what is in the community forest for the community? Randy Kappas, Mayor of Midway and President of the West Boundary Community Forest Board, indicates that there could be plenty for the community within the Community Forest. “The goal is to allow the citizens to have control over and influence some of the forestry in the immediate area. The revenue from future projects could be used to raise awareness concerning forestry issues, and possibly to fund education for youth interested in going into one of the forest related professions. We have lots of ideas, and the committee is still exploring various options.”

Randy added that the community should “watch for opportunities for community input” likely through awareness meetings. Some of the goals included starting to log within the next year or two, and initiating educational programs to raise awareness through conversation and handson events.

Randy said he is “looking forward to managing the Community Forest” as an on-going endeavour.

On September 25, 2014 the Honourable Steve Thomson, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations presented a certificate of commemoration to the City of Greenwood and the Village of Midway on the issuance of the West Boundary Community Forest Agreement. The presentation took place at the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention in Whistler.

 

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