CENTRAL WESTCOAST FOREST SOCIETY
Indigenous Youth on Vancouver Island Gain Forestry Skills Experience
Ucluelet and Tofino Field School — Education, Restoration and Monitoring Program
Why this project matters
This project, led by the Central Westcoast Forest Society, is focused on educating and engaging children and youth within the Tofino-Ucluelet region on Vancouver Island through a field school. It is reaching the surrounding First Nation communities of Toquaht, Hitacu, Esowista, Ty-histanis, Ahousaht, and Hesquiaht. These small communities, with 50 to 1,700 members, are located on the far west coast of Vancouver Island. This project is helping to encourage stewardship and a sense of belonging in these underserved communities. Local school children are learning about forest and stream ecology while gaining hands-on field skills and experiences.
Why is SFI involved?
The SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program is supporting this project. A key component of SFI’s community engagement is educating youth, to ensure they can be effective future leaders and have a strong understanding of the value of responsibly managed forests. SFI also promotes Indigenous rights, respect and engagement through its standards and partnerships with Indigenous communities. The SFI Forest Management Standard is aligned with Indigenous values, including respect for rights, knowledge, and environmental considerations. Today, 39 Indigenous groups across Canada and the U.S. work on over 4-million hectares/10-million acres of land certified to SFI.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
The field component of this program is helping to train and educate future forest practitioners on the importance of sustainable and ethical forestry practices. Children and youth take part in guided forest walks where they learn about forests as well as riparian forest structures and the important role riparian areas play in ecosystem health. This program is being hosted on Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation territory and will support and promote Indigenous heritage and land values by inviting a Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation member that can speak to the roles forests play in their historical and current way of life.
The Raincoast Education Society, a project partner, offers other field components to their Ucluelet and Tofino Field Schools, many of which include First Nation language and cultural educational opportunities. This project is part of a larger goal to bring a better understanding of the local ecosystems and First Nation values to the children of these communities. BC Timber Sales, an SFI Program Participant and project partner, is providing access to their tender lands.
This partnership includes educators, conservationists, and an SFI Program Participant.
- Project lead: Central Westcoast Forest Society
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Raincoast Education Society
- BC Timber Sales (SFI Program Participant)
- Addressing Indigenous Interests and Building Partnerships (fact sheet)
- SFI’s Kathy Abusow speaks on CBC Radio about the SFI Small-Scale Forest Management Module for Indigenous Peoples, Families, and Communities pilot (listen)
- SFI Small-Scale Forest Management Module for Indigenous Peoples, Families and Communities