Community-Based Ecological Forestry
Responsibility for both regulating access to and management of timber resources would become the purview of new community-based institutions called Community Forestry Boards. This would confer a collective responsibility to manage the forests on an ecologically
sustainable basis at a more local level.
A Community Forestry Board (CFB) would serve as a "trust" to hold and oversee management of forest resources within a defined geographic area under a trusteeship agreement with the Crown Lands Co-Management Board we propose. It would operate within a set of legally-mandated principles that would define the trusteeship. These would include the following obligations:
i) to hold in perpetuity for all generations the forest resources within their geographic area;
ii) to decide on new access to the forest resources and to ensure that access is affordable and equally accessible to all potential new entrants;
iii) to ensure the resource harvest is managed sustainably without compromising the ecological integrity or biodiversity of the forest;
iv) to protect wildlife habitat and the ecological processes that support a healthy
functioning forest, and;
v) to administer this public trust so as to ensure the greatest possible benefit for the community in perpetuity while respecting aboriginal rights.
These obligations, at a minimum, would constitute the by-laws under which the CFB would operate. As a public institution, its members would be legally obligated to uphold the by-laws and to report to the community on its work under the terms of its trusteeship agreement with the Crown Lands Co-Management Board. Community residents would have the right to call the
CFB to account for its performance in meeting these obligations, as would the Crown Lands Co-Management Board under the terms of its agreement with the CFB.
By community, we mean a geographic entity where people live and work and which has some means of collective decision-making and governance (e.g. the CFB), built around family and neighbourhood relationships, and a shared culture and traditions. These would be organized on a regional basis where the community is broadly defined such as the Acadian Peninsula, Tobique, Upper St. John River Valley, Miramichi, Charlotte County, etc.
The CFB would determine the terms of forest management licences within the goals, objectives and requirements of the Crown Land Co-Management Board and the annual allowable cut. Licensees would have to file forest management plans that meet those terms and their performance would be subject to regular pubic review. Licences could not be transferred, rented or sold. The CFB would set licence fees to recover the cost of administering the licensing system. The volume and type of wood cut would be reported to the CFB. The division of royalties or stumpage paid to the provincial government, CFB and aboriginal communities would have to be determined.
This community-based model of ecological forest management represents a transfer of wealth from the provincial public domain where it now rests, to the local public and aboriginal domain. In both these cases, public representatives are accountable to citizens for the manner in
which that wealth is invested, and there is an obligation for current generations to ensure that future generations have the same opportunity to benefit from the forest.
The Conservation Council has been promoting community-based ecological forestry since 1993 as a more desirable alternative to the centrally-planned industrial model of forestry that now dominates New Brunswick's Crown lands.(footnotes #26 & #27) We believe that this model of forest management has a better chance of ensuring aboriginal rights are respected while more effectively conserving the forest ecosystem and providing for greater economic fairness to all New Brunswickers.