Burns Lake Community Forest Ltd. (BLCF) has been granted Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification with Ecotrust Canada, a national non-profit organization.
The FSC Forest Management Certification has the most rigorous forest management standards in the world. It is a voluntary market-based system available to forestry organizations who want to demonstrate responsible forest management by having their planning and practices independently reviewed by third-party auditors. The certification helps protect the people, plant, and animal species that live around, and depend on, the forest.
BLCF holds strong principles of developing strong working relations with First Nations partners supported by the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and operates with rigorous environmental standards while examining economic opportunities. These ambitious standards helped the BLCF achieve the certification.
“We are excited about taking the next steps with the Burns Lake Community Forest thanks to being FSC Certified,” says Frank Varga, General Manager of BLCF. “We have a challenging next couple of years as the value of the forest fibre continues to deteriorate due to the mountain pine beetle epidemic. We will look for FSC Certified fibre opportunities to leverage our strength in the fibre supply.”
Certification is a condition of the BLCF’s licence, yet is expensive to obtain. The cost of certification was offset thanks to $30,000 in funding from Northern Development Initiative Trust, $24,000 in funding from Comfor Management Services Ltd. And $7,000 in funding from corporate sponsors.
“Certifications like these demonstrate our region’s excellence in forest management,” says Joel McKay, CEO of Northern Development Initiative Trust. “We’re pleased that our Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program can help organizations realized this level of recognition which helps them pursue new economic opportunities for the benefit of our region.”
The Burns Lake Community Forest was awarded the Long-Term Community Forest Agreement K1A for a term of 25 years in April 2005, the first of its kind in the province. The community forest has undergone several expansions since that time and now consists of more than 89,000 hectares of crown land.