Reform forest legislation, regulations and policy to reflect a shared strategic vision with First Nations that upholds the rights and objectives of the UN Declaration.

Ministry of Forests

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Current year


How far along
is this work?


How complicated
is this work?


Are there


How are we
working together?


Over the past year the Ministry of Forests (FOR) has worked on multiple initiatives in consultation and co-operation with First Nations, developing policy, regulations and legislation. The Ministry has successfully developed regulations to support Bill 28 (The Forest Amendment Act, 2021), developed regulations to update the Forest and Range Practices Act, and amended legislation to support cultural and prescribed fire, by strengthening compliance and enforcement and authorizing discretion in cutting and road permitting (Bill 41). Ministry staff worked in consultation and co-operation with First Nations on these changes to the regulations and legislation. FOR worked through an iterative process to ensure First Nations perspectives and priorities were considered and incorporated into the legislation as it was developed. The procedures used for consultation and co-operation are ever-evolving and improving to better align with the objectives of the UN Declaration, and to ensure a distinctions-based approach. FOR recognizes that opportunities remain to continue improving this process and looks forward to undertaking that work in collaboration with First Nations, stakeholders and the public.

FOR has worked in partnership with the First Nations Forestry Council (FNFC), through the FNFC/FOR working group, to better understand and deliver the resources and information needed to support First Nations participation in reforming and modernizing forest legislation, regulations and policy, and collectively work towards a shared strategic vision that upholds the rights and objectives of the UN Declaration the Declaration Act.  

After working together in this way, in November 2023, FOR received Royal Assent in the legislature for Bill 41. This bill was inclusive of three of the items identified in the intentions paper as necessary changes to modernize forest policy. 

How are we working together?

FOR has committed to establishing a strong distinctions-based approach to working with First Nations and Indigenous governing bodies to further the goals of collaboration and improved accountability. 

In 2022, FOR and FNFC established a working group to collaboratively identify how best to support First Nations in policy, regulatory and legislative work and to develop tools and pathways to support First Nations rights holders. 

The FNFC/FOR working group meets monthly to discuss current FOR policy initiatives, related to the known interests and concerns of First Nations in British Columbia. At these meetings, FOR reports out on the progress of, and discusses with FNFC, the Action Plan item 2.10 and the work of reforming forest legislation, regulations and policy to reflect a shared strategic vision with First Nations. The working group has also developed resources and has hosted online and in-person events and networking opportunities to support First Nations rights holders to engage in consultation and co-operation on this work.  

Specifically, the working group hosted four in-person events throughout the province in 2023 for First Nations representatives and FOR staff to come together to discuss priority topics. These events were a continuation of the series of four events the FNFC/FOR working group hosted in 2022 and there are plans to continue hosting these events together to create space for discussion and collaboration. These events, and the collaboration with the FNFC, provide FOR staff with opportunities to meet with First Nations representatives in a workshop and networking setting. They provide additional consultation and collaboration opportunities outside of direct government-to-government discussions and engagement with rights holders.

FOR has engaged with over 140 First Nations on topics under modernizing forest policy in British Columbia (the intentions paper), through government-to-government meetings, surveys, facilitated engagement sessions and through written correspondence.

FNFC reports to the First Nations Leadership Council, and through that reporting structure, the work associated with this action is being monitored by the First Nations Leadership Council.

Are there challenges?

Reforming forest legislation, regulations and policy that reflects a shared strategic vision with First Nations and that upholds the rights and objectives of the UN Declaration is an ambitious and significant undertaking. Navigating how to do this effectively takes time to ensure shared efforts foster collaboration and align with collective goals and values. 

Capacity pressures within the Ministry of Forests and amongst First Nations to ensure comprehensive consultation and co-operation are creating challenges in the timely completion of work. Internally, FOR is mitigating this challenge by ensuring that staff have clear processes, training, resources and tools to engage and consult fully with all First Nations in alignment with the Declaration Act. Due to limited resources and capacity, some Nations are challenged to engage in all of the work of FOR in a fulsome way. The high volume of initiatives and work being done limits the amount of engagement each Nation has the capacity to participate in. FOR will continue to monitor and adapt timelines as needed to ensure effective and complete consultation and co-operation, which can be complex and challenging with over 200 First Nations. 

While FOR has a strong working relationship with FNFC, FNFC does not represent Aboriginal rights holders, and FOR staff must ensure they directly contact all First Nations in the manner to which the Province has committed, in order to engage on legislation, regulations and policy work that may have impacts on their territory. Engaging with over 200 First Nations on provincial-level changes is a complex but vital undertaking that can be challenging to effectively deliver. To manage this effectively, FOR staff are being provided with support for engagement planning, as well as the tools and resources needed to allow for full engagement with all First Nations on legislative, regulatory and policy work.