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B.C. and ‘Namgis First Nation forge sustainable forestry pact

April 10, 2024  By Government of B.C.

Photo: Annex Business Media.

Formal engagement and negotiations are underway between ‘Namgis First Nation and the province on a joint decision-making agreement to support forest stewardship and sustainable forestry operations.

“Alongside ‘Namgis First Nation, we are working with local communities and forestry operators to make sure local forests are managed sustainably, while increasing certainty in forestry operations that will help to maintain family-supporting jobs for the entire region,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “By moving toward joint decision-making with ‘Namgis and working together with local partners, we can advance reconciliation, take care of the forests that sustain local communities and support good forestry jobs for the long term.”

Through the Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 37 Forest Landscape Planning pilot project, ‘Namgis First Nation, the province and Western Forest Products are working together toward sustainable forest management that will support forest health, benefit local jobs and advance reconciliation.

Collaboration between the partners shows clear alignment on the desired outcomes for a balanced approach that supports sustainable forestry operations and the environment in the area. In these circumstances, a Section 7 agreement under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act) is the best tool to create a joint decision-making partnership in the portion of ‘Namgis territory that overlaps Tree Farm Licence 37, currently held by Western Forest Products.


“Since time immemorial, the ‘Namgis people have relied on the natural bounty of our territory to sustain our communities,” said Victor Isaac, ‘Namgis chief councillor. “A Section 7 agreement will establish joint decision-making and enable our Nation to fulfil its stewardship responsibilities for resources in our territory. By managing lands in partnership with the province and Western Forest Products Inc., the intent is to take care of the unique ecosystems within the Nimpkish Valley for the long term, while advancing reconciliation and bringing more jobs and prosperity to the north island.”

Negotiations for a Section 7 agreement between ‘Namgis and the province will involve engagement with neighbouring First Nations, local government and stakeholders. Top of mind for both parties during negotiations is the sustainable management of forest resources in ‘Namgis territory. Engagement on the draft forest landscape plan (FLP) has been taking place with community members through ongoing public engagement and an information session in Port McNeill on March 13.

“The draft forest landscape plan that ‘Namgis and Western have developed in partnership reflects extensive work on managing for ecosystem integrity and provides a solid road map for a sustainable forest sector,” said Steven Hofer, president and CEO, Western Forest Products. “We are supportive of the work between ‘Namgis and the province to develop the necessary decision-making framework that will enable the implementation of the FLP, which we view as critical to the future success of our operations in TFL 37.”

The Section 7 agreement negotiations will be consistent with enabling amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act introduced in 2021 and will help realize the Province’s commitment to reconciliation under the Declaration Act. When negotiated, a Section 7 agreement will help bring stability and predictability to the forest industry through consensus on where and how future harvest activities will occur.

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