Planning for the next 1,000 years:

🕔May 22, 2008
A lot can change in 1,000 years. Go back a millennium and Haida people were weaving, carving, and building with the old-growth western red cedar that started flourishing on the Queen Charlotte Islands 5,000 years before. If you had asked anyone back then how to ensure enough cedar for carvers, weavers and builders 1,000 years into the future, they might have thought you were crazy. But who could have predicted the changes that were to come?So when the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) called for a 1,000-year cedar strategy to ensure there would be enough of the light-weight, rot-resistant wood for generations of carvers to come, it might have seemed a bit far-fetched.“It’s tricky to model 100 years, or even 10,” says John Broadhead, director of the Gowgaia Institute, a sustainability think-tank on Haida Gwaii. “The farther out you go, the wider and wilder the uncertainties become.”But if one needs an 800-year-old tree to build a 50-foot canoe, says Guujaaw, president of the Haida Nation, some forward-looking plans must be made.Guujaaw says the rate of logging on the islands in the last 50 years has come like an assault, especially on cedar. Most of the logs are shipped off-islands to be milled, and some estimate that two-thirds of the islands’ good wood is gone.So what kind of plan could possibly turn this situation around? While the technical modeling challenges of the 1,000-year strategy are being worked out, the implementation of another plan is underway.In December 2007, the Province and the Haida signed a Strategic Land Use Agreement. It took four years, a two-month-long blockade and several negotiating teams, but the islands finally ended up with a document that offers a different way of managing resources. According to Guujaaw, one of the most significant things is simply that the plan exists; before that, government and industry were just divvying up all the timber as fast as they could. Now more than 50 percent of the archipelago is protected from logging (before the plan it was 23 percent). A new form of ecosystem-based management and shared decision-making between the Haida and the Province will govern the remaining forested land.

Guiding vision
Some have hailed the land-use agreement as a landmark, saying it’s gone a few steps further than any other in BC. Broadhead says a look back at the 2004 document called the Haida Land Use Vision (HLUV) or Yah’guudang (respect for this place) might begin to explain why.
“That’s when a collective think about cedar began to take place,” he says.
Prior to Yah’gudaang, the Haida Forest Guardians were receiving “consultation letters” from the Ministry of Forests (MOF) on a block-by-block basis. The Guardians would go out and identify areas the Haida wanted left alone, like wildlife habitat, culturally modified trees and monumental cedars. With the Haida concerns in writing, the MOF could choose to do something about them or not. Inevitably, cutting permits were issued and arguments over areas continued.
Finally the CHN decided to get ahead of the curve, said Broadhead. Workers went out and mapped valuable cultural and wildlife sites on the landscape, then asked industry to stay out of them until longer-range plans could be made.
At the same time the Haida were involved in the Supreme Court of Canada case known as TFL 39. It was sparked by the transfer of Tree Farm License 39 from MacMillan Bloedel to Weyerhauser in 2001, with the Haida maintaining that the Province had a duty to consult. In 2004 Justice Beverley McLachlin ruled in their favour.
Justice McLachlin said the Crown must not only consult, but also accommodate Aboriginal interests, and included in her judgment a unique legal concept known as the honour of the Crown. “The Crown, acting honourably, cannot cavalierly run roughshod over Aboriginal interests where claims affecting these interests are being seriously pursued in the process of treaty negotiation.”

A place in the process
And the Strategic Land Use Planning process was about to begin. These plans (also called Land and Resource Management Plans) have been developed across BC. When one of the first plans was made on Vancouver Island, people representing various stakeholder interests made decisions, but the number of people and the size of the areas involved presented a challenge. In many cases First Nations, who had unresolved Aboriginal rights and title issues on their territories, were not at the table at all. The process evolved to include a bigger role for First Nations, with government-to-government meetings taking place after the stakeholder groups met. (The latest process with the Taku River Tlingit will first be negotiated between them and the Province, and will then go out to stakeholders).
The Haida process was a bit different again, co-chaired by the Province and the Haida with a government-to-government period to follow. But many Haida sat at the stakeholder table as well, and they brought Yah’gudaang with them.
Yah’guudang addresses the condition and well-being of the land, but the document also contains maps outlining areas of concern for cedar, salmon, bears, birds and plants. Rather than providing specific conservation measures (like the planning table and the Land Use Agreement would later do), it reveals a distinctly Haida way of looking at things.
For example, when discussing plants used for medicine or food, Yah’guudang talks about respect. “Where we might approach a Yew tree in a ceremonial manner, the industry takes them for building temporary roads, bucked into pieces for the heavy steel-tracked machines to travel on, then left behind on the ground.”
The Haida had another strength: a homegrown planning table. During other processes lawyers, folks from big union offices, and even big environmental groups sat at the table, says Broadhead.
“On Haida Gwaii, everyone was local,” he says of those representing sectors like small-business forestry, tourism, mining, forestry employees, band councils, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
The recommendations that these planners came up with included strong and specific conservation measures for salmon streams, monumental cedar, wildlife and more (although a full consensus had not been reached, and two members ensured that less restrictive options were included in the report).

But the impacts of this document were not yet fully grasped when along came another twist: not only did the provincial government approve another tenure transfer without consulting the Haida, they also approved new logging in an area that was to be protected under the terms of the Land Use Agreement.
In March 2005, the Haida people came out in force for an action called Island Spirit Rising. Logging roads were blocked, and many people—including local loggers—protested that islanders need more control over their own resources.
From that came a Memorandum of Understanding with the Province that outlined things like a review in Allowable Annual Cut, a Haida tenure, and a renewed commitment to the Land Use

Planning process
After another year of back-and-forth, and several provincial negotiating teams later (one team led by the former attorney-general was caught trying to undermine the process, says Guujaaw), the two governments reached the draft document stage.
But the time of uncertainty is not quite over. Details are still being worked out on some of the ecosystem management principles, and Minister Pat Bell won’t sign off on the Land Use Order papers making them legally enforceable until 2009.
Brian Fraser, a forester with Teal Jones in Sandspit, says his company is here to stay and plans to work with the CHN in any way possible to make the plan work. He admits, though, that measures to protect single monumental cedars, for example, could remove a great deal of area from the operable land-base.
And the Haida are still upset the recreational black bear hunt hasn’t been halted, a process they had believed was agreed to in the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding.
But in the end, says Guujaaw, he feels the Haida have accomplished a lot more with this Liberal government than with any other, even though “they came in with all guns blazing against aboriginal people.” And it didn’t even take 1,000 years.