The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation signed a letter of intent in 2007 to partner on a community forest in the 55,000 hectares of forestland surrounding the internationally renowned ski resort and Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Winter Games. The proposed Whistler-Squamish-Lil’wat Community Forest will be one of the first forestry operations on the B.C. coast to employ a new, ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach.

The communities in the Sea-to-Sky corridor hired Ecotrust Canada to custom design an EBM approach with a sustainable harvest level for their community forest.” Ecosystem-based management is the gold standard in sustainable forestry,” says Mike Vitt, Ecotrust Canada’s Forestry Program Manager. “It is fundamentally about ensuring that the entire ecosystem is fully functional and protected through all current and future forest development. It’s about going from volume-based to value-based forestry.”

The Whistler2020 sustainability strategy, the Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (Squamish), and the Lil’wat Land Use Plan all articulate the importance of sound land management to support the long-term economic, social and ecological viability of the communities. The Community Forest plans to permit timber harvesting without compromising the forest ecosystem, First Nations cultural values, or undermining other forest values that are important for tourism and recreation.

“Partnering with the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations is an exciting opportunity to strengthen the ties between our communities,” says Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed. “With the 2010 Winter Games rapidly approaching, a community forest presents a unique opportunity to locally manage our forest resources in a way that will support our long-term economic, social and ecological viability and showcase the highest standards of eco-forestry to the world.”