Left to right: Aki Tiitto and Kevin Gladstone of the Heiltsuk First Nation community in Bella Bella build artisan toys

Local economies – Creating environmentally responsible business models in the Great Bear Rainforest

ForestEthics believes that one of the best ways to create environmentally responsible local economies that marries conservation with economic well-being, is to support communities in creating businesses models that don’t rely on clearcut logging and other destructive practices. Our work with First Nations in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest is a strong example of building conservation based economies. One of the premier ways we have done that was our participation in creating the $120 million Coast Opportunity Fund which supports First Nations conservation management and conservation based economic development.

Building an environmentally-friendly economy in the Great Bear Rainforest

We are honored to have played a role in supporting new ways forward in places like the Great Bear Rainforest.  First Nations there have created jobs and new economic opportunities by:

  • Creating bath products using essential oils from tree boughs harvested in the Great Bear Rainforest.
  • Producing wooden toys. ForestEthics supports a wooden toy business project managed by the Heiltsuk First Nation's Qqs Society in Bella Bella. The project uses a small amount of wood to make high value, native designed, wooden toys. The project is expected to grow to provide year round employment and revenue.
  • Sale of carbon credits for protecting forests. First Nation are pursuing sales of carbon credits generated from conserving their forests. ForestEthics worked with the British Columbia government to ensure that the province's regulations for carbon credits (Forest Carbon Offset Protocol) allowed for conservation-based credits, not just tree-planting and other sources. We are also looking at a market-based strategy to prevent leakage (when forests elsewhere in the world are logged to compensate for the supply drop from the Great Bear). If this can be successfully applied it will allow First Nations to fully benefit from the carbon value associated with protecting forests in their territories.

Coastal First Nations’ economic development initiatives

Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations—Great Bear Initiative, speaks to the idea that protecting the environment, and traditional cultures, go hand in hand in Community Health, Nature's Wealth:

The ecological diversity found within our traditional territories helps to define and enrich our quality of life. Yet there are startling trends that threaten this. Industrial resource extraction is consuming resources and our territories at an increasingly rapid rate. Within the lifetime of our children, our territories and our resources could be damaged beyond repair…. As First Nation communities we must encourage activities that identify new resources and technologies, and that enhance our current resource base to maximize lasting benefits for our quality of life and the environment. Low-impact resource developments offer First Nations one way to create an environmentally responsible economy. We hope the examples in Community Health, Nature's Wealth provide communities with incentives to move in this direction.

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