A community forest can be described as any forestry operation managed by a local government, community group, First Nation or community-held corporation for the benefit of the entire community. Community forestry involves the three pillars of sustainable development: social, ecological, and economic sustainability. At its core, community forestry is about local control over and enjoyment of the benefits offered by local forest resources.
The partners, the Town of Princeton, the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, spent three years preparing an application for a community forest license and on November 29, 2010 were awarded a license by the Province of B.C.
The license provides exclusive land management and harvesting rights over approximately 11,000 hectares surrounding Princeton.During the lengthy application process for a community forest license, the partners embarked on an extensive research and management and business planning processes that resulted in the decision to apply for long-term tenure over Crown forest lands in close proximity to Princeton and to incorporate a company to hold the license. The area of tenure chosen had many benefits, including the ease to manage lands in close proximity to Princeton and the ease of conducting forest operations with close proximity to processing facilities.
The corporations industry partner Weyerhaeuser, manages timber operations on behalf of Vermilion Forks Community Forest Corporation. Saw logs are either processed locally at the Princeton Weyerhaeuser operation or sold to other forest companies. Post and rail material harvested is being sold to Princeton Post and Rail and Princeton Wood Preservers. The sale of timber by the forestry corporation will generate revenues for the partners to disburse back to their respective communities.
Although timber operations will be the main economic stimulus of the community forest, using other non-timber forest products and developing alternate land use opportunities will be long-term objectives of Vermilion Forks Community Forest Corporation. The community forest was intended to serve the social, economic and environmental needs of the community. In general terms, the Vermilion Forks Community Forest Corporation will be managing the forest for all of its product potential rather than just timber.