FSC Canada has developed a partnership with Wahkohtowin Development GP, an indigenous-owned company acting as an implementation body for First Nations’ economic development in Canada. The two organizations recently received funds from the Canadian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. The funding will be used to assist with effectively implementing FSC’s new requirements to support Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

“The rights of Indigenous Peoples, to protect their culture and livelihood, need to be respected in decisions that impact the forests,” said FSC Canada President, Francois Dufresne. “This project will be very helpful in ensuring that indigenous communities understand what FSC certification means and ultimately support their rights.”

The project aims to support indigenous communities’ participation in FSC certification; including testing Indigenous Cultural Landscape indicators – to ensure rights of Indigenous Peoples on landscapes to which they attribute social, cultural and economic values. The project will also support landscape solutions by identifying high conservation values from indigenous perspective, e.g. species at risk like the woodland caribou.

“Through this partnership, we have an opportunity to implement collaborative solutions to address key forest issues facing rural and remote forest dependent Indigenous Peoples who continue to rely heavily on healthy sustainable managed forests,” said David Flood, Wahkohtowin Development GP General Manager.

FSC Canada’s regional forest management standards were updated in June 2019 to a new national forest management standard after five years of rigorous consultation with industry, environment, social stakeholder and indigenous groups. The new standard addresses the most pressing issues facing Canadian forests now, including woodland caribou, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, workers’ rights including gender equity, landscape management and conservation.