B.C. First Nations receive $63M boost in forestry revenue sharing

·2 min read
The Nahmint Valley outside Port Alberni, B.C., shows protected old growth groves along the water and replanted hillsides that were previously logged. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says the revenue sharing agreements do not impact old growth logging or old growth deferrals. (Chris Corday/CBC - image credit)
The Nahmint Valley outside Port Alberni, B.C., shows protected old growth groves along the water and replanted hillsides that were previously logged. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says the revenue sharing agreements do not impact old growth logging or old growth deferrals. (Chris Corday/CBC - image credit)

B.C. First Nations are getting a bigger cut of forestry profits after the province announced an increase to existing revenue sharing agreements.

Katrine Conroy, minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development, said the interim deals will boost First Nations' portion of stumpage fees and timber sales by at least $63 million this year.

Of 204 B.C. First Nation communities, 126 have existing forestry revenue sharing agreements and another 58 are eligible. If all eligible First Nations participate, the total could reach $131 million, more than double the $59 million they received in the previous year.

"Our vision is for First Nations to be full partners in sustainable forest management and to receive meaningful benefits from forestry taking place on their territory," said Conroy.

"We know that a healthy forest sector supports all of our communities," said Keith Atkinson of the B.C. First Nations Forestry Council, "and this a good first step."

It's expected to take two years for the province and First Nations to co-develop a new forestry revenue sharing model. The work is being done in accordance with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which was put into legislation in 2019.

Conroy said today's announcement does not impact old growth logging or old growth deferrals, which have been a lightning rod for conservationists and protesters who are demanding an end to all old growth logging.

"We're still working with Nations to defer the logging of the old growth," she said. "And some nations have said they're willing to defer and some have said no, that they manage their forests in a sustainable way and they'll continue to do that and look after the old growth on their territory."

The group Save Old Growth has been staging road blockades around the province, demanding a public meeting with Conroy and asking for legislation to save the remaining 2.7 per cent of old growth still standing.

During Wednesday's announcement, Conroy confirmed she has been subjected to harassing phone calls after her phone number was published online.

"It's a very small group of people who are using this tactic. And I don't believe it's a very positive tactic," she said.

In December, Conroy suffered injuries after being knocked to the ground while walking home from the legislature in Victoria.

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