Lake Babine Nation (LBN) is expected to strengthen its participation in the forestry sector now that the province has awarded them a First Nations woodland licence.
The area-based licence has an initial term of 25 years; it covers 36,500 hectares and has an allowable annual cut of about 74,000 cubic metres.
The new licence is expected to enhance employment and economic opportunities for LBN.
Chief Wilf Adam said LBN is currently in negotiations with industry to determine who will buy their wood. The licence also supports ongoing reconciliation discussions between the province and LBN.
“As stewards of the land, we welcome the benefits that the agreement will bring to the community and the increased opportunity to shape and manage the use of resources around us,” said Chief Adam.
Leaders of LBN had been working for the past four years with the province, local industry and the community for this licence. Earlier this year, LBN council told representatives of the major forestry licensees in the region that the status quo needed to change. Although forestry drives the regional economy, LBN was holding only four per cent of the harvesting rights in its territory.
“I have spent my life watching logging truck after logging truck drive the logs and profits out of our territory, for the benefit of others,” Chief Adam said earlier this year. “This is simply unacceptable.”
This licence is the first of two First Nations woodland licences expected to be awarded to the nation. The second license, in the Bulkley Timber Supply Area, is expected to be issued within the next two of years.
“It’s great to see the Lake Babine Nation taking on a more direct role in forest and land stewardship and making it easier for the nation to bring financial benefits to the community,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and MLA for Nechako Lakes.
Lake Babine Nation’s licence is unique among First Nations woodland licences in that it extends through two timber supply areas – the Morice and Lakes timber supply areas.
This was the seventh First Nations woodland licence issued since the province began the program in 2011.