The Burns Lake Community Forest (BLCF) has been granted been granted Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, a globally recognized certification endorsed by Ecotrust Canada.
The FSC forest management certification confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves the natural ecosystem and benefits the lives of local people and workers, all while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
“The achievement of this certification is a major milestone for the Burns Lake Community Forest, and a result of the dedication of staff and support from the contracting community,” said Frank Varga, BLCF’s general manager.
“We are excited about taking the next steps with the community forest thanks to being FSC certified,” he continued. “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,” he added.
According to Varga, the BLCF’s ambitious standards helped them achieve this certification. These include holding principles of developing strong working relations with First Nations partners, as well as operating with rigorous environmental standards while examining economic opportunities.
The certification, which is a condition of the BLCF’s licence, helps protect the people, plant, and animal species that live around, and depend on, the forest.
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 $7000 in funding from corporate sponsors.
Joel McKay, CEO of the Northern Development Initiative Trust, said the FSC certification further demonstrates the region’s excellence in forest management.
“We’re pleased that our competitiveness consulting rebate program can help organizations realize this level of recognition, which helps them pursue new economic opportunities for the benefit of our region,” said McKay.
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.
“My goal is to continue emphasizing the significant role that BLCF plays in the local economy, not only from an employment and financial view but also from a social and environmental perspective,” added Varga.