Ucluelet First Nation opposes old-growth deferrals

November 29, 2021

By: The Working Forest Staff

TOFINO-UCLUELET WESTERLY NEWS — The Ucluelet First Nation (UFN) is refuting old-growth deferrals announced by the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development on Nov. 2, 2021.

In a Nov. 15 press release, UFN president Charles McCarthy said they refuse to accept the proposed old-growth logging deferral within Ucluelet First Nation Traditional Territory.

“With no consultation in conjunction with First Nations, this mandate was unexpected and offers an unattainable deferral time of 30 days. 30 days is not enough allowable time to properly engage in the deferral and affects the time required to sufficiently access data, maps, and review overall impacts to harvest areas, within our Traditional Territory,” states president McCarthy in the press release.

The Ucluelet First Nation Government is currently in the process of negotiating new tenure on crown lands within their Traditional Territory. McCarthy says this old-growth deferral announcement will impact the current licenses within their Traditional Territory as well as new tenure opportunities, including future agreements with lumber producers Interfor and Mamook Natural Resources.

Ucluelet First Nation holds 20 percent ownership of Mamook Natural Resources, a partnership shared with Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, and Toquaht. McCarthy said that the old-growth deferral previously enacted for Nation-owned Tree Settlement Lands (TSL) 54 and 57 in 2020 directly impacted Indigenous resource-based employment within in the logging industry.

“The Province of British Columbia’s government was elected with a clear mandate to make Indigenous reconciliation a priority. This is reflected in ‘Intention Papers’ published earlier this year, which outlines the steps required to ensure Indigenous people are meaningful partners in British Columbia’s Forest sectors. This includes an increase in the number of replaceable forest tenures held by First Nations. We are confident Government-to-Government discussions between the province and the Ucluelet First Nation will lead to a successful partnership and the creation of an agreement that benefits all parties,” said McCarthy.

The Ucluelet First Nation recently completed a management plan and a timber supply analysis for Treaty Settlement Lands (TSL) that they would like to see move forward.

“The Ucluelet First Nation seeks to develop diverse, sustainable, and profitable forest resource-based businesses that respect the history, culture, and traditions of its people and the living environment. It also aims to develop the capacity of its citizens to become responsible forest stewards,” McCarthy said.

The Westerly has reached out to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development for a reply, and will update this story once comments are received.

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