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Coastal forestry plan gives Nations greater say over land use

A new plan in the works for the Sunshine Coast aims to balance tourism, forestry, and traditional Indigenous interests in the woods.

Representatives from the Ministry of Forests spoke to the Strathcona Regional District last week to give an overview of the Sunshine Coast Forest Landscape Plan, which covers mainland territory from north of Campbell River to south of Nanaimo.

Bob Craven says it’s been a challenging process, with the interests of five First Nations, coastal communities and logging companies to consider.

“In Bute Inlet, for example, there’s ecotourism that’s very important, and so is harvesting,” he said. “Trying to balance viewscapes so that it doesn’t impact tourists coming in to the area, but still have a sustainable forest business… it’s taking a little it of time to do that balancing.”

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He points out the five First Nations taking part in the plan are also forestry licence-holders, and want economic opportunities along with protecting forests for future generations. The Homalco First Nation is involved, along with the Klahoose, Tla’amin, Shishalh and Squamish.

Jillian Tougas with the ministry says the current system leaves most decision-making up to forestry companies.

“With this, we’re trying to get away from licensees developing forest stewardship plans and leading management on the land base, and to these forest landscape plans, where it’s meant to be a collaborative process between BC government and the Nations that would like to be involved in the process,” she said.

A draft plan will be finalized this spring and will go out for public comment in summer and fall.

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