Lake Babine Nation (LBN) and the Village of Granisle officially sealed the deal in a collaborative community forest venture last week.
LBN Chief Wilf Adam and Village of Granisle mayor Frederick Clarke met with Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO), Steve Thomson and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad in Burns Lake for a special signing ceremony.
The collaborative community forest venture is only the second one of its kind in B.C., with McLeod Lake being the first.
The Babine Lake Community Forest will be managed by the not for profit Babine Lake Community Forest Society, which has representation from both LBN and the Village of Granisle.
The partnership will benefit both communities by providing access to new jobs and diversify the local economy.
Mayor Clarke said, “We still have a long road to go and there is still an awful lot to do which requires patience but if we keep pushing we will get there. Now is a great time to start.”
“We designed the Babine Lake Community Forest Society to think about the other person. We make decisions by trying to walk in the other person’s shoes … the joint venture just works.”
The society will be run with two cochairs, one from LBN and another from the Village of Granisle.
Chief Adam said, “LBN is pleased to sign the agreement with the Village of Granisle in cooperation with the government. It will result in two parties working together and it has been a long time coming. The Lake Babine Nation has a very good relationship with the Village of Granisle and we will continue to build on it with this community forest agreement. We welcome this agreement because we want to ensure sustainability and because the cooperation will benefit all people in the Lake Babine area.”
Chief Adam also commended LBN members Grace George, Millie George and Hereditary Chief Richard Williams for working hard to get the community forest venture off the ground.
The Babine Lake Community Forest agreement is for a 25 year term and grants the right to harvest up to 6,088 cubic metres of timber annually from 6,594 hectares of land surrounding Granisle.
The agreement also gives the Babine Lake Community Forest Society the opportunity to manage and profit from other forest resources such as botanical products.
Mayor Clarke said that because their community forest venture is relatively small, the society plans to focus its community forest license on sustainable forest management, as well as establishing an innovation centre for natural resources in Granisle. The innovation centre will explore training and production opportunities using wood from the Babine Lake Community Forest for manufacturing goods with high aesthetic value and decorative appeal. Potential products that are currently being investigated include cabinet doors, fencing panels, and display boards for trophy mounts and plaques.
“There are all kinds of new product lines just waiting to be discovered in the world of value-added wood manufacturing. We plan to find and develop the most innovative ones with the support of our community forest and our partners from the Lake Babine Nation. This will help increase business activity and create more jobs for Granisle,” mayor Clarke said.
Minister Thomson said the community forest agreement is a big step forward for the local area creating more business for the Babine Lake area. “The history of the Granisle area is rich in mining and recreation tourism. This community forest agreement will expand and strengthen their economic foundation by enabling them to also pursue new business opportunities in the forestry sector,” he said.
The next step for the Babine Lake Community Forest is to focus on their forest stewardship plan and if all goes to plan they could be logging by the winter of 2012. More than 50 community forests are either operating or in the planning stages across the province.