Strong partnerships, wildfire protection and community involvement helped the Williams Lake Community Forest (WLCF) win the 2023 Robin Hood Memorial Award for excellence in community forestry.
“Community forestry continues to make a valuable contribution to overall forest management in our province,” said Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s minister of forests. “The WLCF is contributing to the transition to a modern forestry sector, supporting stronger, more resilient communities. Through their commitment to innovative forest practices and partnerships, they are generating economic opportunities for British Columbians.”
The Robin Hood Memorial Award for Excellence in Community Forestry, established in 2016, is given annually to the B.C. community forest that best exemplifies the values exhibited by the B.C. community-forest program and the late B.C. community forestry pioneer, Robin Hood. The award winner receives a $10,000 grant. The winner is chosen for their excellence in:
- community leadership;
- providing local and social economic opportunity;
- innovation; and
- passion for community forestry.
The WLCF has many programs designed to benefit the local community, uphold best practices in community forestry, and contribute to the local economy. Some of those programs include:
- robust project grant fund for local community groups, with contributions of five per cent of the community forest’s annual profit;
- strong relationship-building between the founding partners, the City of Williams Lake and the Williams Lake First Nation;
- strong wildfire reduction program, treating 850 hectares to date;
- direct contribution to the local economy through direct sales to small local mills and other value-added companies; and
- extensive community involvement, including school tours and building 75 kilometres of recreational trails.
“The WLCF was years in the making. It took hard work and the committed leadership of key people to believe in the potential of the partnership,” said George Brcko, president, BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA). “They said yes to collaboration and to the start of a new relationship between the local Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.”
Shane Berg, B.C.’s chief forester, presented the award during the BCCFA annual general meeting in Kamloops on Thursday, June 8, 2023. The BCCFA is a non-profit society that advocates for community forestry in B.C. It works closely with the provincial government on forest policy, providing input on community forest initiatives and expanding community forestry.
Community forest agreements 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.
The WLCF is a partnership between the Williams Lake First Nation and the City of Williams Lake. It covers 28,840 hectares in two parcels: one west of and one east of the City of Williams Lake.
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