Bella Coola’s Community Forest Sets An Example For Sustainably Managed Social Enterprises
In 2007, the Bella Coola Resource Society established a successful community forest enterprise that saw its first year of operations in 2009. The Bella Coola Resource Society is comprised of local residents and property owners. The society's board of directors consists of representatives from local government, residents and the business community. This project led to the society securing a five year probationary license that was converted to a long term 25 year licence in 2011.
This community forest provides an important opportunity for Bella Coola to create new opportunities for recreation, wildlife preservation, and sustainable economic development. Local management of harvesting operations is not only providing direct local employment opportunities, but also positive economic spinoff effects through the social enterprises' supply chain in the local economy.
The Bella Coola Community Forest is the second community forest agreement in the Bella Coola valley; the first was granted to the Nuxalk Nation in February 2007.
"Through this community forest, the people of Bella Coola can diversify their forest economy and more directly participate in managing the resources around them."
Honourable Rich Coleman, former Minister, Ministry of Forests and Range
Positive Economic Impacts in Bella Coola
The Bella Coola Community Forest opened with a strong first year of operation in 2009. A total of 21,000 cubic metres was logged generating well over 1,700 days of employment for the local community. Bella Coola Community Forest Ltd., the operating company that manages the community forest on behalf of the Bella Coola Resource Society, is reinvesting in the region by selling harvested logs to local sawmills and facilitating $25,000 in trail maintenance through Forest Investment Account funding.
In 2010, fewer trees were harvested, but the community forest diversified its activities. 36,000 trees were planted on the 2009 logging sites under a new silviculture initiative. In 2010, the amount of logs that were processed locally almost doubled from 187 cubic metres in 2009 to 310.9 cubic metres in 2010. Almost 100 cubic metres of fire wood was produced from what would have been waste wood on the logging sites that year. As this community forest project has been maturing since its startup in 2009, there has been a substantial diversification of activities that continue to contribute positively to Bella Coola's local economy.
Share Your Story
How has this project made a positive difference for you, your family, or organization?
If you have an update or personal story about how Bella Coola Resource Society is creating opportunities in your community and helping build a stronger regional economy, please share an update!