CRANBROOK The Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council and Forests Minister Michael de Jong signed an agreement today that will help create new economic opportunities for the council and increase land-base certainty through the direct award of a community forest pilot agreement.
A key part of the Forestry Revitalization Plan is opening up new opportunities for First Nations, communities and smaller operators in the forest sector, said de Jong. Were working with First Nations to help them participate more fully in B.C.s economy, while providing certainty and economic stability on the land base, which benefits all British Columbians by making B.C. more attractive to new investment.
The Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council has been invited to apply for a five-year community forest pilot agreement for a total of up to 30,000 cubic metres of timber, as part of an interim measures agreement. Under the agreement, the Ktunaxa also commit to negotiating a regional forestry consultation protocol.
This interim measure for the Dominion Coal Blocks represents a relatively small, area-based tenure, said Kathryn Teneese, chief negotiator, Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council. However, it contains opportunities to establish working relationships with other governments and industry, provide the Ktunaxa with experience in industrial forest management and increase access to the many other resource values in the area. This is one small part of a larger project through which the Ktunaxa look forward to accessing other, more substantial, long-term, area-based tenures.
The community forest is unique, in that it will be on the federal Dominion Coal Blocks, southeast of Fernie. The Ministry of Forests has managed the federal lands for more than 25 years under a federal Privy Council order and letter of understanding. A new memorandum of understanding between the Canadian Forest Service, the Ministry of Forests and the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council will establish a committee to oversee the Ktunaxa forestry operations on these lands.
Under the direct invitation, the treaty council must submit a detailed business plan outlining how the community forest will be managed.
In May 2002, government introduced legislation enabling the Minister of Forests to directly award First Nations forest tenures to increase their participation in the forest sector. This is the eighth invitation extended to date. First Nations have been invited to apply for a total of 1,138,000 cubic metres.