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Wetzink’wa community forest earns provincial award and grant

October 24, 2022  By Government of B.C.

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A B.C. community forest award, along with a $10,000 grant, has been awarded to the Wetzink’wa Community Forest for 2022.

“This year’s Robin Hood Memorial Award recipient, the Wetzink’wa Community Forest, exemplifies community leadership and innovation,” said Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy. “Community forests are part of our vision for a modern forest sector with stronger, more resilient communities generating new economic opportunities through innovative, value-added manufacturing.”

Established in 2016, the Robin Hood Memorial Award and accompanying grant are given annually to the community forest best exemplifying the values exhibited by the B.C. community-forest program and the late Robin Hood, who was a British Columbia community forest pioneer. These values include community leadership, providing local and social economic opportunity, innovation and a passion for community forestry.

This year’s recipient, the Wetzink’wa Community Forest, was chosen for the award because of its:

  • long-term vision for the forest resource;
  • strong collaborative relationship with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en;
  • enhanced forest stewardship program by investing profits to benefit the land;
  • local community contributions of more than $3 million to local community groups and direct stakeholders;
  • strong wildfire risk-reduction program by working closely with the Forest Enhancement Society of BC and the BC Wildfire Service;
  • strong community educational programs and annual training for locals in wildland fire response;
  • aggressive reforestation program;
  • strong investments in lidar remote-sensing technology and forest inventory as essential tools for climate adaption practices; and
  • creating local employment opportunities while prioritizing First Nations employment.

The award was presented during the British Columbia Community Forest Association (BCCFA) 20th Anniversary Banquet and annual general meeting on Oct. 20, 2022. The BCCFA is a non-profit society advocating for community forestry in B.C. and provides input about forest policy to facilitate community forest initiatives.

“The recipient of the 2022 award exemplifies the values that Robin Hood, past president of the BCCFA, upheld,” said Jennifer Gunter, executive director, BCCFA. “These values include community leadership, providing local and social economic opportunities, and passion for community forestry. Constantly innovating and thinking outside the box, Robin was a doer. His energy was contagious and inspired all of us working in community forestry to make things happen for the benefit of our communities.”

Community forest agreements carry an initial term of 25 years and are replaceable for another 25-year term after 10 years. They are long-term, area-based tenures designed to encourage community involvement in the management of local forests, while expanding economic opportunities and opening doors to local job creation.

Quick Facts:

  • The Wetzink’wa Community Forest Corporation is the licensee responsible for managing the community forest tenure jointly held by the Town of Smithers and the Village of Telkwa, in partnership with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en.
  • The Wetzink’wa Community Forest (WCF) covers 32,897 hectares in three parcels: one directly west of the Town of Smithers, one northwest of the Village of Telkwa, and the other just south of the Village of Witset.
  • The WCF boundaries balance forest management with traditional use by the Wet’suwet’en First Nation for cultural, economic, ecological, recreational and community use.

Learn more: news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022FOR0074-001571

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