Gillian Riddell, Westerly News, Thursday, May 08, 2008
The Clayoquot Forest Communities Program (FCP) will officially launch this Friday morning at a ceremony at the Tin Wis Conference Centre in Tofiino. The FCP is a new program being implemented by the Central Region Management Board and Ecotrust Canada as part of a national strategy to help forest-dependent communities.

Natural Resources Canada has awarded the Nuu-chah-nulth Central Region Management Board and Ecotrust Canada a multi-year, $1.6 million dollar grant to launch the program.

The Clayoquot program is one of 11 community-based programs across the country.

The Central Region Management Board and Ecotrust Canada are the program partners in the greater Clayoquot Sound region. The communities included under the program are Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Toquaht, Yuu-tluth-aht, Tla-o-qui-aht, and the Districts of Ucluelet and Tofino.

The multi-year program will focus on an ecosystem-based management approach to resource use in the Biosphere Reserve by incorporating economic diversification, innovation and building strong local institutions.

"Clayoquot Sound is a rich area in terms of its culture, biodiversity, natural resources and workforce," says Elmer Frank, Forest Communities Program Manager in Tofino. "Our challenge is to work together as communities to build a more diversified and resilient local economy."

The program will try to bring what has historically been a contentious and divided constituency into the program with a set of common objectives and priority of outcomes.

It will also select and fund projects that can lead to economic diversification with a particular focus on bringing new business opportunities to remote communities and encouraging innovation and investment.

The vision stated for the Clayoquot FCP is to build a conservation economy based on the principle of Hishuk ish’ tsawalk, a Nuu-chah-nulth phrase meaning "everything is one and inter-connected."

The Forest Communities Program hopes to attract and engage other programs and sources of funding, the to support the development of a dynamic economy for the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve region that honours the intent of its designation and proves that people and the environment can both co-exist and thrive.

griddell@westerlynews.ca