By: The Working Forest Staff
OTTAWA, ON — Obishikokaang Resources Corporation has certified more than 1 million hectares of the Lac Seul Forest in Northern Ontario to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard. Lac Seul First Nation, also known as Obishikokaang, is the oldest reserve in the Sioux Lookout District.
“Lac Seul and the surrounding forest have always provided for the economic and cultural well-being of the people of Obishikokaang. Certifying to SFI is part of our commitment to the kind of sustainable business practices that are designed to protect the environment and support economic growth. Band members are working as part of the management teams, supervising harvesting and playing an important role in forest regeneration,” said Clifford Bull, chief of Lac Seul First Nation.
Lac Seul First Nation has more than 800 members and is made up of the communities of Kejick Bay, Whitefish Bay and Frenchman’s Head, all located on the shores of Lac Seul.
The SFI Forest Management Standard respects Indigenous peoples’ rights and traditional knowledge. This includes protecting spiritual, historical and cultural sites, and using non-timber forest products. One of the reasons Obishikokaang Resources Corp. adopted the SFI standard was because of its ability to promote sustainable forest management by protecting water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and species at risk, the group says. Enhancing the economic sustainability of the community by opening new markets was another key factor in the decision to choose SFI.
“Certifying a forest to SFI is an important way for Indigenous communities to assure their markets and the general public that the forestry they practice is sustainable. It also helps Indigenous communities ensure our values and economic priorities are reflected in the management of those forests,” said SFI Board member, David Walkem, chief of the Cooks Ferry Band and president of Stuwix Resources Joint Venture.
Currently, 28 Indigenous and tribal groups across Canada and the U.S. manage more than 3.1 million hectares of forest land, certified to SFI.
Obishikokaang Resources Corp. was established in 2012, to manage the Lac Seul Forest and to provide economic development opportunities for Lac Seul First Nation. Since then, the company has proven itself to be an effective and successful forest manager, working closely with all stakeholders in the forest.