ABOUT US

The North Island Woodlot Association (NIWA) is primarily a collection of woodlot owners, some of which are crown woodlot licensees and others whom are private forestland owners, or a combination of both. Of the 826 woodlot licenses in British Columbia, 83 are on the coast of which 45 belong to NIWA. Other NIWA members include consultants or contractors allied to woodlot owners, as well as individuals whom aspire to attain a woodlot in the future.

Crown Woodlot Licences

Woodlot licences are a form of forest tenure administered by the Ministry of Forest Range (MoFR) in accordance with the Forest Act, Forest and Range Practices Act and related regulations. The Woodlot Licence Planning and Practices Regulations sets out the standards of management for woodlot licences throughout BC. Individuals, partnerships, families, First Nations and Bands, and educational institutions (eg. Malaspina University College and British Columbia Institute of Technology) are holders of Woodlot Licences.

The maximum crown land portion of a coastal woodlot licence has been 400 ha (1000 acres). However, recent changes to legislation increased the maximum size to 800 ha for future woodlots and made it possible for a person to hold two (2) licences.

Objectives of Crown Woodlots

In exchange for being granted exclusive rights to harvest timber, a woodlot licensee assumes responsibility for managing the entire woodlot licence area. Responsibilities include forest planning, reforestation, caring for the forest, protecting cultural & resource values, community and First Nations consultations, environmental stewardship, and sustainable small-scale forestry management.

Philosophy of Small-Scale Forestry

Frequently characterized by innovative approaches to forestry and forest management, woodlot licenses are often a source of local employment in addition to ensuring local management and development of forest resources. They are also considered a good source of timber for value-added manufacturers.

Look for Federation Press Release

A woodlot contributes to the owners and to the wider community. Due to the small scale of many woodlots, the activities carried out will have a minor impact on the surrounding environment. Woodlot owners tend to live on or near the woodlot.

Information is Knowledge...

One of the prime objectives of NIWA is to keep our members up-to-date with information on developments in forestry. NIWA has quarterly meetings with an Annual General Meeting in Spring. Speakers and demonstrations put forward a wealth of information pertaining to the ongoing business of operating and developing a woodlot. When members request specific subjects, we organize workshops to address their needs. Such as:

  • Basic timber cruising and valuation
  • Forest soils
  • Logging equipment for farm tractors
  • How to get the best dollar for your forest products
  • ...and Knowledge is to be Shared
  • First aid training
  • Fire prevention and suppression

Forestry and Politics...

BC's woodlot licences are very much private: public partnerships involving the licence holders and Province of British Columbia. NIWA is one of twenty-three (23) woodlot associations throughout BC which belongs to the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations, an umbrella organization which represents the interests of all woodlot licensees and owners. Each association has a seat on the Federation's board of directors, which is guided by an executive committee selected from the directorship. The Federation makes presentations on a variety of topical issues to various provincial and federal agencies, provides a forum for an exchange of ideas and otherwise promotes small-scale forestry. It is also has voice nationally as a member of the Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners. Federation and association volunteers are supported by a General Manager, coastal and interior timber pricing consultants and an administrator who looks after the Small Tenures Program under the Forest Investment Account.

NIWA has given briefs to the Forest Resources Commission, The Royal Commission on Education, the Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment, Taxation Hearings by BC Assessment Authority, and the Commission on Resources and the Environment and more recently the Results Based Code Committee.

Forest Investment Account (FIA)

We are the lead association for the coast region.

What is a Woodlot?

A woodlot can be a grove of trees providing a picnic site or it may be hundreds of hectares producing truckloads of logs. But what really define woodlots is the unique and distinct factors that set them apart from industrial forests. Apart from the obvious differences of size and ownership, one of the primary characteristics is their location. They are quite often close to urban areas and are therefore looked upon to provide green spaces and recreational opportunities to nearby residents.

Access to the forest is vital in woodlot management. In many cases old railway grades or skid trails are in place from previous harvesting. In terms of growth potential, woodlots often include some of the best sites, in terms of soil and water.

More than anything else, a progressively operated woodlot can provide stability. The flow of standard forest products, such as logs, is on an even-flow basis due to the scale of manpower, equipment and volumes. Because of the owner-involvement, operations carried out in a woodlot tend to be carefully thought out and refined. This allows the owner to harvest other minor forest products during a time of low log prices. These other forest (also referred to as non-timber forest products or NTFPs) commodities include floral greenery, edible or medicinal products, specialized wood items or non-tangible services such as campsites or recreation areas.

Who Owns Woodlots and Why?

Traditionally it was the rural residents who owned woodlots. They were used to provide firewood, fence posts and lumber for the farm or ranch. They also gave other products like berries, mushrooms, and venison. Woodlots were used for grazing livestock during hot summer weather.

There has been a shift in woodlot ownership during the past few years. More urban dwellers are buying woodlots for recreation and retreat areas...a place to come and camp while they putter about in the forest. Others are buying timberlands as an investment for future generations. Dollars put into woodlots appreciate independently of inflation. It has been estimated that a successfully managed woodlot can return approximately nine percent over the rotation.

A woodlot contributes to the owners and to the wider community. Due to the small scale of many woodlots, the activities carried out will have a minor impact on the surrounding environment. Woodlot owners tend to live on or near the woodlot.

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What Can a Woodlot Produce?

More than anything else, a progressively operated woodlot can provide stability. The flow of standard forest products, such as sawlogs, is on an even-flow basis due to the scale of manpower, equipment and volumes. Because of the owner-involvement, operations carried out in a woodlot tend to be carefully thought out and refined. This allows the owner to harvest other minor forest products during a time of low log prices.

These other forest commodities include floral greenery, edible or medicinal products, specialized wood items or non-tangible services such as campsites or recreation areas.

Information Is Knowledge...

One of the prime objectives of NIWA is to keep our members up-to-date with information on developments in forestry. There are few sources of appropriate information available to the woodlot operator to assist him or her in the practical aspects of small-scale forestry.

We have monthly meetings from October to May. Here we discuss new business pertaining to our interests, local issues of concern, and general yarn-swapping. Each meeting is centered around a guest speaker or educational video.

On occasion we host a Field Day to visit member's woodlots, nurseries and tree farms. General discussions in the woods are valuable sources in information.

When specific subjects are requested by members, we organize workshops to address their needs. Such as:

  • Basic timber cruising and valuation
  • Forest soils
  • Logging equipment for farm tractors
  • How to get the best $$ for your forest products

...and Knowledge is to be Shared

Here on Vancouver Island, we know quite a bit about industrial forestry. We can see the harvested and planted areas. Most families have at least one member who derives an income from forestry. And only a hermit could ignore all the media reporting on conflict in the woods.

However, few people know about small-scale, private woodlots. The owner tend to go about their business quietly and without attention.

Our Association visits district schools every year, as well as other youth and community groups. We talk about the importance of local woodlots to the economy and the environment. The children are usually quite curious and the questions arise easily. Forestry and Politics...

In this province, resource allocation is laden with political overtones. To make our voice heard, NIWA belongs to the Federation of B.C. Woodlot Associations, a provincial group representing sixteen associations throughout this diverse province. The federation has an elected Board of Directors who make presentations to various provincial and federal agencies.

Our Association has given briefs to the Forest Resources Commission, The Royal Commission on Education, the Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment, Taxation Hearings by B.C. Assessment Authority, and the Commission on Resources and the Environment.

Locally we are represented on the Comox Valley Environmental Council and have made presentations to the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona and to School District #71. We have been involved with the Campbell River District Office of the B.C. Forest Service in the evaluation of the provincial Woodlot License Program.

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