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C̕awak ʔqin Forestry, partners launch initiative to be climate positive by 2030

C̕awak ʔqin Forestry, Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Western Forest Products Inc. partner on a new manufacturing vision and low carbon initiative.


March 4, 2022
By C̕awak ʔqin Forestry

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Photo by Mike Lane.

A first-of-its-kind collaboration between First Nations and industry to create a leading model for a climate positive future is launching on Vancouver Island. The parties will seek opportunities to harness the carbon storage potential of renewable and sustainable forest products and include opportunities for investment in innovative forest practices.

The Hišuk ma c̕awak Manufacturing Initiative (HMI), which means “everything is connected,” is an integrated approach that will tap into wood products’ ability to store carbon. Led by C̕awak ʔqin Forestry, Huu-ay-aht First Nations, and Western Forest Products across Tree Farm Licence 44 (TFL 44) and Huu-ay-aht tenure and licence areas, this initiative will advance reconciliation and revitalization of the region’s forest sector. The goal is to go beyond reducing emissions to improve performance in removing more carbon from the atmosphere than is emitted by 2030.

“Our approach is to put back in what we take out,” said Robert J. Dennis Sr., Chief Councillor of Huu-ay-aht First Nations. “Over the past five years, together with TFL 44 we have planted over five million trees, which is more than the provincial standard requires. Now, we are taking that a step further and will reinvest in ways to lead the way to a climate friendly future, guided by our sacred principles and the wisdom of our ancestors and the knowledge, innovation and support of our local communities and partners.”

By working with all TFL 44-area First Nations, the HMI will identify opportunities for skills training and capital investment, explore potential income streams through carbon credits and green energy programs, and adopt innovative approaches to land management including extracting more wood from the area harvested to reduce waste and slash burning. This work aligns with the recently announced Indigenous-led Integrated Resource Management Plan (IRMP) for TFL 44 which will account for present and future needs of the First Nations and ecosystems, and provide certainty and stability for local economies.

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“Together we are leading the way to a new era of forestry,” Stan Coleman, RPF, forest manager for Huu-ay-aht First Nations Forestry Limited Partnership. “Along with the IRMP, for Huu-ay-aht lands and the TFL 44 area, integrating traditional values and the input of the elders and citizens will position us to ensure the new approach to manufacturing will be able to support a climate positive future. Careful consideration and input from professionals, employees, and the broader community will enable us to develop truly innovative investment strategies to harness the true potential of wood products.”

The HMI also builds on the partners’ recently commissioned study by The Beck Group, a leading forest products consulting firm. The study identified several potentially-viable options to reinvest in manufacturing aligned to the sustainable fibre supply in the region – adding value to the predominant species of hemlock and Douglas fir while increasing utilization of harvest and sawmilling residuals to support a commitment to be climate positive.

“This initiative puts us on a path to measure and improve our progress – with collaboration, carbon and climate change as key metrics in our investment decisions,” said Shannon Janzen, RPF, board member of C̕awak ʔqin Forestry LP, and vice-president partnerships, chief forester of Western Forest Products. “The Hišuk ma c̕awak Manufacturing Initiative seeks to benefit the entire region as we work together to be carbon positive by 2030.”

The HMI team has engaged MNP partner Jason Fisher, a forestry expert and advisor to First Nations to examine the potential options including those identified by the Beck Group that add value to the local economy with a goal to support further manufacturing investment decisions aligned with the fibre supply in the region. Fisher will work with TFL 44-area First Nations, labour organizations, other businesses, government officials and scientific experts, to conclude feasibility studies that can attract viable long-term investment that will deliver climate-friendly outcomes.

According to a study by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, building more with wood, when paired with region-specific sustainable forest management practices, can deliver significant emissions reductions for the province. Under the best-case scenario modelled by the researchers, they concluded that B.C.’s forestry sector could potentially contribute 35 per cent of the province’s 2050 emissions reduction target.