Wednesday, March 11, 2009

First Nations in BC

In the last week or so we have had to very significant government annoucements with respect to First Nations in BC.

First the government has said they will bring forward a law to recognize Aboriginal Title and Rights. This decision by the BC Liberals is stunning and amazing. This really recognizes a New Relationship between the provincial government and BC First Nations. How ever you slice it, BC First Nations will be major players in all natural resource development in BC from now on. I will comment more when I see the actual bill. I very interested to see how the governance structure is going to be set up.

Second, the government announced changes to forestry tenures in BC, the intention to have First Nations have 20% of the annual allowable cut in BC in long term renewable tenures. The Forest and Range Agreements of the last five years have been the biggest transfer of natural resources to First Nations in Canadian history. Now the the government is going deal with the shortcomings of the FRAs (called FROs now) and offer a lot more timber to First Nations.

BC First Nations will control an annual cut of around 10 to 12 million cubic metres of wood per year. This is about 300 000 logging truck loads. The gross revenue of the harvested timber is about $750 000 000 to $1 250 000 000 a year. The finished processed products will have a value to the BC economy of about $2 to $3 billion dollars a year. The full economic value chain of First Nations timber will be about 4% of the BC economy. Outside of the south west economy, the First Nations will control about 15% of the economy through forestry alone.

The actions by the BC Liberals is recreating BC First Nations as major owners of natural resources in this province, a crucial players in the provincial economy. The future of BC is truly going to be a partnership with First Nations.

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