By: The Working Forest Staff
Huu-ay-aht First Nations — Following extensive consultation with its citizens, Huu-ay-aht First Nations is pleased to announce the upcoming development of its Hišuk ma c̕awak Integrated Resource Management Plan (HIRMP).
The HIRMP is a coordinated plan for forest and environmental management in the Nation’s entire ḥahuułi (traditional territory of the hereditary chiefs). It represents the present and future needs of the ecosystem and the Nation. Its namesake sacred principle, Hišuk ma c̕awak, acknowledges the many interconnected aspects considered and incorporated into the plan.
“This has been a long time coming and is shaped by the input we heard from our citizens and Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council (hereditary leadership) that showed us there is a deep need for this work,” explains Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “We are not waiting for others to look after our territory. We have created a path for this plan that honours our values and our sacred principles of ʔiisaak (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is One).”
The Huu-ay-aht have been stewards of their territory since time immemorial. They manage the resources that sustain their people based on their utmost respect for the ḥahuułi. The sacred principles will guide the direction and implementation of the plan.
The HIRMP is Huu-ay-aht’s commitment to do all they can to balance the economic benefits from use of the resource land base with sound management that supports other aspects of the Nation’s interconnected resources and livelihoods.
“We want to do this the way we would have done it all along, following the principle that what one takes out, one must put back,” says Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “We will consult and rely on experts in order to merge our Ancient Spirit and Modern Minds, but this plan is made in Huu-ay-aht, for Huu-ay-aht, by Huu-ay-aht.”
Over many years, the Nation has had the benefit of expert forestry and resource advisors including Chris Niziolomski of Forest Ecosystems Solutions, Bruce Blackwell of BA Blackwell and Associates, Bob Bocking of LGL Ltd., and Bryce Bancroft of Symmetree Consulting Group. These experts will continue to support the work on the HIRMP.
The planning process Huu-ay-aht is embarking on will not only help Huu-ay-aht manage its own Treaty Lands and forest tenures, it will also be working collaboratively with other forest companies on our ḥahuułi to extend Huu-ay-aht values to forest management in the entire territory.
Forest ecosystems are complex with many integrated components and past histories. Creating and implementing the HIRMP will not be a fast process. Huu-ay-aht will take as long as is needed to get it right and find balance so it pays off for present and future generations.
Some highlights of the HIRMP are:
- Developing a harvesting, reserve, and silviculture strategy.
- Setting appropriate annual allowable cuts (AAC).
- Setting aside culturally important forests as protected areas for citizen enjoyment and use.
- Developing a strategy that continues to value existence of old-growth forests and monumental cedar.
- Continued support to Huu-ay-aht’s ʔuuʔałuk Watershed Renewal Program.
- Aligning Forest Stewardship Plan renewal, forest management systems, and monitoring across all tenures, while allowing economic opportunities for Huu-ay-aht.
- No timber harvesting on Treaty Lands in the calendar year 2021
- Developing objectives for good stewardship of fish and water, riparian areas, wildlife and their habitat, biodiversity, cultural heritage, visual quality, and minimizing windthrow/blowdown.
- Ensuring that these critical objectives are appropriately balanced with the economic benefits that come from the forestry and resource economy, all in accordance with Huu-ay-aht values.
“Our main driving force behind this is to look after the land the way our ancestors taught us,” says Huu-ay-aht Councillor Duane Nookemis. “Up until about 150 years ago we managed our own lands and resources in a sustainable way. Our hereditary and elected leadership draw on the teachings of our ancestors and the wisdom of our elders, as well as input from citizens when we make stewardship decisions like this plan. We use this knowledge and input from our partners to determine best practices for forestry, fishery, and other natural resources. The HIRMP will allow us to regain decision-making powers in our ḥahuułi.”
Huu-ay-aht will be hosting Community Engagement Sessions for its citizens and residents of the neighbouring community of Bamfield in June. Huu-ay-aht will provide an overview of the HIRMP process and two-year timetable and will provide answers to questions regarding the process.