WFP, Na̲nwaḵolas Council reach deal on old-growth deferral
By Ellen Cools
Western Forest Products and four member Nations of the Na̲nwaḵolas Council have reached an agreement to defer the harvest of approximately 2,500 hectares of old-growth for two years.
“The Tlowitsis, K’ómoks, Wei Wai Kum and We Wai Kai First Nations are continuing to strengthen relationships with Western through a joint planning and reconciliation agreement that, along with our Large Cultural Cedar Protocol, will prioritize some of the rarest and oldest forests with this deferral,” said Dallas Smith, Na̲nwaḵolas Council president, in a statement. “We have done a lot of work to put us in a position to actively engage Western and others around our important cultural and ecological values while balancing the socioeconomic needs of our communities and the surrounding region.”
The agreement applies to 100 per cent of the “ancient and remnant trees” in 1,068 hectares which the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) had identified on Tree Farm Licence 39-2. The remaining 1,506 hectares of “priority large, remnant and ancient forests” were deferred through other initiatives between Na̲nwaḵolas and WFP, including a Large Cultural Cedar Protocol, TFL ecosystem mapping and as an addition to the H’kusam area, which was deferred in 2020.
“This agreement recognizes and respects First Nations’ interests as rights and title holders and includes a shared commitment to embark on new forms of collaborative planning that incorporate the values of the four member Nations,” said Shannon Janzen, Western’s vice-president of partnership and sustainability, and chief forester. “We look forward to advancing our trusting relationship with Na̲nwaḵolas and demonstrating how a shared commitment to leadership in sustainable forest management can effectively balance environmental, social and economic objectives and increase certainty and stability for business, benefit workers and support Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.”