Province should share forest revenues 50-50 with First Nations

Stronger commitment needed for a long-term "new relationship"
January 17, 2007

BC should turn half of the roughly $1 billion it collects annually in
stumpage fees from forest companies back to First Nations. A new report
by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says such a move would
be an important step towards a lasting “new relationship” with
Aboriginal people.

The report takes a detailed look at nearly
130 forestry accords brokered by the province with First Nations in
recent years. Although the government has made a concerted effort to
share a portion of revenues and forest resources, the report finds that
the agreements are far from equitable. The current situation leaves
First Nations with few dollars and minimal access to timber with which
to diversify their economies and alleviate poverty and unemployment in
their communities.

The accords were prompted by a mounting
number of court decisions that forced the province to seek “workable”
arrangements with First Nations, whose traditional lands are being
rapidly altered by industrial logging while the treaty process crawls

“On average in the past decade, BC collected $1 billion
per year in stumpage fees from forest companies logging public lands
claimed by First Nations,” says Ben Parfitt, resource policy analyst
with the CCPA and author of True Partners: Charting a New Deal for BC,
First Nations and the Forests We Share. “Yet the money flowing back to
First Nations from these accords is just $35 million per year -- 3.5%
of the stumpage revenue stream. That certainly isn’t enough to bring
much-needed economic development to more than 100 First Nations.”

report finds that a longer-term commitment is needed. Timber-cutting
rights set out in the accords run for only five years -- far too short
a time to attract serious investments and build viable enterprises.

report also critiques how cash and timber-cutting rights have been
allocated. “Offers of cash and timber are based on head counts. The
more ‘members’ a First Nation has on federal Indian Band lists, the
more cash and timber they get,” Parfitt says. “This automatically
penalizes First Nations with small populations. It also fails to
consider on-the-ground realities. First Nations whose forests are
relatively intact get treated exactly the same as First Nations whose
forests are being liquidated.”

Parfitt recommends that the province:

  • Share
    half of all stumpage dollars with First Nations, with each nation
    compensated based on the value and volume of trees coming off of their
  • Turn defined areas of forestland over to long-term management by First Nations;
  • Recognize First Nations as equal co-managers in land-use planning; and
  • Give
    some further stumpage revenues to Interior First Nations and
    communities in anticipation of a mountain pine beetle-related collapse
    in future logging rates.

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True Partners: Charting a New Deal for BC, First Nations and the Forests They Share is available at To arrange an interview, call Terra Poirier at 604-801-5121 x229.