TOFINO, BC—The Nuu-chah-nulth Central Region Management Board (CRMB) and Ecotrust Canada are pleased to announce today the launch of the Clayoquot Forest Communities Program (FCP) as one of 11 sites across Canada to join the federally funded program. Through Natural Resources Canada-Canadian Forest Service, the Clayoquot FCP will receive $1,475,000 over the next five years as part of a national strategy to help forest-dependent communities to meet the challenges of economic transition.

The Government of Canada's funding was announced today by the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources.

“Our Government is listening to the forest sector and working to ensure that it gets the tools to remain competitive and prosperous,” said Minister Lunn. “Canada's Forest Communities Program helps forest-based communities develop new business strategies and pursue new opportunities, and I'm pleased that the Clayoquot Forest Communities will be an integral part of the program.”

The CRBM and Ecotrust Canada are the program partners in the greater Clayoquot Sound region, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The communities included under the program are the First Nations of Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Toquaht, Ucluelet and Tla-o-qui-aht, and the Districts of Ucluelet and Tofino.

“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. This financial support from Natural Resources Canada will help us diversify our economy and become more competitive.”

The Clayoquot Forest Communities Program comes into play at a time when local communities are working hard to recover from the collapse of the fisheries and forestry industries in the 1990s. With unemployment figures as high as 70 percent in some of the region's more remote communities, and after recognizing the dangers of reviving an economy to be reliant solely on tourism, the region is ready to have a second look at the forest economy—with an interest in diversifying economic outputs and becoming a model to inspire others facing similar issues.

The Clayoquot Forest Communities Program has five major themes focusing on effective and efficient program management, demographic change in the forest-based community economy, diversification, building strong regional institutions and collaborative partnerships, and pioneering an innovative ecosystem-based management approach to forestry in Clayoquot Sound.

Projects in the first year will focus on strategic partnerships, economic development strategies, research, governance training, land-use mapping, watershed monitoring and tourism planning.

MEDIA CONTACT / Eric Enno Tamm, Ecotrust Canada Communications Manager, mobile 604.219.1472 or erict@ecotrustcan.org.

NUU-CHAH-NULTH CENTRAL REGION MANAGEMENT BOARD represents the economic interests of the five First Nations in the Clayoquot and Barkley Sound region including Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Toquaht, Yuu-tluth-aht and Tla-o-qui-aht.

ECOTRUST CANADA is an enterprising nonprofit whose purpose is to build the conservation economy. We promote innovation and provide services for communities, First Nations and entrepreneurs to build sustainable local economies.

www.ecotrust.ca