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Indigenous Values and Principles for Defining Forest Stewardship Objectives

This report reflects input from BC First Nations during engagement sessions held in 2019 and virtual engagement sessions held in June 2020 regarding provincial priorities and initiatives concerning the protection of resource values in forest management and stewardship objectives.

The purpose of this report is to inform proposed changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), Land Use Planning (LUPs), and the development of a new strategy for old growth management that reflects First Nations’ forest management principles and values.  

Engagement with First Nations

The BC First Nations Forestry Council (the ‘Forestry Council’) held initial engagement session in 2019 and additional engagement sessions virtually in June 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to discuss changes the province was proposing to the Forest & Range Practices Act (FRPA). The goal of the June virtual engagement sessions was to build on input received in 2019, and seek more detailed input to inform changes the province is proposing to FRPA, and other forest policies and regulations.

The virtual engagement sessions consisted of four meetings with First Nations from across the province. The sessions focused on three key areas: 1) changes to FRPA, 2) Land Use Planning, and 3) development of a new strategy for old growth management. Nations unable to participate in these meetings were invited to send in their feedback through online forms and questionnaires in efforts to provide additional opportunities for input.  

The Forestry Council recognizes and does not consider this input as conclusive or exhaustive as many BC First Nations were unavailable as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It should be used to inform further work with Nations on changes to FRPA and other provincial policies and practices, with the overall goal of increasing the role First Nations play in the development of forest stewardship objectives and management practices for their territories. 

More work needs to be done with Nations regarding the modernization of land use planning and forest landscape level planning, development of new approaches to old growth management and to develop regulatory and Act amendments to FRPA that incorporate Indigenous principles and values in the management of forests lands and resources.  


The Forest & Range Practices Act

1.1. Change from timber-centric volume to values-based forest management model, and removal of the “without unduly reducing the supply of timber” from objectives in the Forest Planning and Practices Regulation (FPPR);
1.2. Development of new objectives and review of resource values identified under FRPA and FPPR to reflect Indigenous knowledge, values, and principles;
1.3. Access to funding for First Nations’ guardianship and compliance-monitoring programs;
1.4. End to the use of pesticides and herbicides;
1.5. Engagement with First Nations on the development of provincial stocking standards and reforestation practices to reflect Indigenous priorities;
1.6. The province must fulfill its commitment to involve First Nations in the development of forest policies, including legislative and regulatory review as part of their commitment to the implementation of UNDRIP. This must include involvement in the drafting of changes, and reporting out on how Indigenous input was incorporated and reflected.
1.7. Full review of definitions and expansion of current management objectives under FRPA and the Forest Planning and Practices Regulation for all resource values, with the full involvement of First Nations, to incorporate and protect culturally important ecosystems, Indigenous values, and principles;
1.8. Adoption of ecosystem-based management practices that support holistic forest management practices and reflect Indigenous practices, principles, and values;
1.9. Access to resources for Nations to increase their governance capacity that is required to play a meaningful role in development of forest management objectives and practices.


Land Use Planning

2.1. Access to resources for all First Nations to participate in forest landscape planning and other provincial land use planning processes;
2.2. Development of collaborative decision-making processes between the BC Government and all Nations, not just some, to inform forest stewardship, support shared governance, and joint decision-making;
2.3. Access to resources for First Nations to develop their own land use frameworks that identify their visions and forest stewardship objectives, values, and management practices for their territory; 
2.4. Access to resources to support First Nations’ forest governance and the technical capacity to meaningfully participate in forest management and other provincial land use planning processes;
2.5. Legal recognition of First Nations’ land use plans (LUPs)/land management frameworks and stewardship objectives in provincial land use planning processes, and forest operations; 
2.6. Existing land use plans need to be reviewed and revised in new forest landscape level planning processes to reflect First Nations’ priorities, values and objectives. 


Approaches to Old Growth Management:

3.1. First Nations must be involved in decisions regarding the establishment of management objectives and protection of Old Growth within their territories, including the identification and protection of ‘Big Trees’ so that culturally important areas and values are protected;

3.2. Access to resources to support First Nations’ guardianship programs, to better manage and protect culturally important ecosystems and old growth areas;
3.3. The free, prior, and informed consent of First Nations must be obtained in management of old growth and other cultural important areas. Nations need to be involved in developing management objectives to protect culturally important ecosystems (establishment of Indigenous protected areas) and values in their territories;
3.4. The BC government must consult with and learn from First Nations land and forestry plans and practices, and work in partnership with First Nations to develop sustainable timber harvesting policies that support the UN Declaration, the BC First Nations Forest Strategy, and First Nations’ need to retain sufficient old-growth for spiritual and cultural purposes;
3.5. UBCIC Chiefs-in -Assembly urge the Ministry of FLNRORD to consult and engage with First Nations communities and organization, including the Forestry Council and the FNLC, to develop and implement a renewed old-growth strategy that entrenches Indigenous consent into its processes [….] and to support sustainable old-growth cultural harvesting as an important First Nations livelihood and source of culture.


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