Forest management planning recognizes that Indigenous communities are more than stakeholders in the process. Each Indigenous community in or adjacent to the management unit is offered the opportunity to have a representative on the planning team. In addition to the planning team, each Indigenous community can nominate a representative for the local citizens committee. Westwind also has an Indigenous representative on our Board of Directors.
At least 6 months prior to public consultation, each Indigenous community is contacted to discuss the development of a consultation approach for forest management planning with that community. This also includes being involved in all opportunities for public consultation.
In addition to requirements for consultation during the forest management planning process, one of the ten principles of FSC® certification is Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. Specifically, FSC® Principle 3 requires that in order to be certified, organizations such as Westwind “shall identify and uphold Indigenous Peoples’ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities.”
In the previous planning period, issues brought forward by Indigenous Peoples include compensation, harvesting, spraying, access, and values protection. Values protection has perhaps been the issue of greatest interest and discussion but the most challenging as well. The protection of Aboriginal values throughout the planning cycle is of key importance to First Nations, MNRF, Westwind and their partners, and the Planning Team as a whole. Continuing to foster and build strong, trusting relationships between all parties is key in protecting Aboriginal values across the Forest. Both Industry and MNRF are continuing to build good working relationships and communications with all communities.