The Island Community Stability Initiative (ICSI) was formed in November
1995 by elected representatives, and their designated alternates, from every
community and rural electoral area on the archipelago known as Haida Gwaii
and as the Queen Charlotte Islands. Through a series of advertised public
meetings ICSI has sought and received broad public support.
In this document, the place is referred to as "the Islands;" and our collection of towns, villages and rural settlements is referred to as "the Island Community."
This living document represents our best efforts to achieve consensus and does not include specific management prescriptions which will be addressed by a community resource board.
The forests of the Islands are about 12,000 years old (Fedje, 1993).
Harvesting of wood has occurred since there were trees on the Islands, when
the Haidas developed a culture based on their use of the forests and oceans.
Industrial-scale logging began on the Islands during the First World War to provide structural materials for airplanes and field equipment. Sandspit, Port Clements and Queen Charlotte City were built up on the timber industry. Various other towns and logging camps have come and gone. Sawmills existed throughout the Islands, exporting lumber and providing wood products for local uses.
In the first half of this century, Old Massett was renowned on the coast for its boat-building industry. A mill and several boat yards built a large number of trollers, gillnetters and seiners, many of which still serve in the fishing industry.
Large scale logging tenures were instituted in the 1950s and 60s. Today there are three Tree Farm Licenses, a Timber Supply Area (TSA) containing four Forest Licenses, the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program, and a number of smaller tenure units in various locations. In all, an estimated 100 million cubic metres of wood, from a total of 170,000 ha (Sierra Club Mapping Project, 1995), have been extracted from the Islands forests. Meanwhile, the Island Community lacks basic infrastructure and many of the amenities that other places take for granted.
The approved rate of harvest of about two million cubic metres per year, is based on the assumption that all "operable mature timber" will be harvested. Conflicting ideals and changing societal values have challenged this assumption. Over time, while the Islands forests have increased in value, the communities' share of the benefits has declined, creating social, economic and environmental concerns. Unemployment rates of up to 70 percent exist in some communities.
In 1994, the Ministry of Forests (MoF) publicly released the Queen Charlotte TSA Review and Socio-Economic Analysis. The findings of greatest concern include a rate of harvest that is 2.2 times greater than the Long Run Sustainable Yield, and a gross disparity in the distribution of employment and other economic benefits - only 14 percent of jobs derived from the TSA harvest are held by people who live on the Islands. (MoF)
In March 1995, in response to the TSA Review, representatives of all community and regional electoral bodies sent a letter to the Chief Forester requesting that:
"a) Areas under consideration for exclusion from harvesting must be removed from contributing to the AAC.
b) Within three years or less, reduce the AAC to the long term harvest level, as qualified by a) above."
In April, the community representatives sent a letter to the Minister of Forests, stating that:
"The current allocation of timber cutting rights in the Queen Charlotte Timber Supply Area (TSA) represents a significant threat to the future of our islands community. The Socio-Economic Analysis prepared recently for the Timber Supply Review confirms that the return to our islands community is unacceptably low. It is our belief that 100% of the TSA should be managed by the communities of these islands."
In the Fall of 1995, the Ministry of Forests estimated a timber supply shortfall in all Island-based tenures of about 30 percent in 1996; the prognosis for 1997 is "worse." Inability to meet current timber volume commitments has been described by the ministry as "hitting the wall."
The Islands Community Stability Initiative (ICSI) is a forum to express the collective will of the Islands people. It is established to address social, economic and environmental issues resulting from resource extraction, and to participate in designing a future that will support a healthy environment and create a self-sustaining Islands economy.
The ICSI is engaged in a process aimed at resolving certain challenges to forest management on the Islands. Our goals are:
- to ensure the long term health of the forest and the stability of the resource-based economy by establishing an inventory and planning process to determine sustainable levels of harvest and to establish those levels within three years.
- to provide greater local employment and economic benefits to communities through small business forestry interests having greater access to wood.
- to promote processing and manufacturing of timber resources on the Islands.
- to ensure a cooperative and responsible forest management system that incorporates the Island Community's values and knowledge.
- to chart a long-term land-use option for presentation to the Council of the Haida Nation and the Government of BC that will bring greater certainty and alleviate resource conflict.