(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Westbank First Nation wins excellence in community forestry award

WFN was awarded for its leadership in wildfire risk reduction

For its leadership in wildfire risk reduction, Westbank First Nation (WFN) was named as one of two recipients of the British Columbia Community Forest Association’s (BCCFA) Robin Hood Memorial Award for excellence in community forestry.

Along with the Village of Midway’s West Boundary Community Forest, WFN received the 2021 award on Friday (Oct. 22) during BCCFA’s annual general meeting. The West Boundary Community Forest was named as the winner for 2020 at the event, as the award was not presented last year due to COVID-19.

In addition to the awards, both recipients received $10,000 grants.

“The recipients of the 2020 and 2021 awards exemplify the values that Robin Hood, past president of the BCCFA, upheld,” Jennifer Gunter, the executive director of BCCFA.

“These values include community leadership, providing local and social and economic opportunities, and passion for community forestry.”

The WFN Community Forest (WFN-CF), which covers more than 46,000 hectares, is divided into two parcels: one directly west of West Kelowna and Peachland, and the other just northwest of Big White. Its boundaries balance forest management with traditional practices – WFN members use the land for hunting, trapping, food gathering and spiritual use.

As noted by BCCFA, WFN-CF was awarded for its leadership in wildfire risk reduction, as well as for taking the lead on the planning process for developing a community forest wildfire risk management strategy that included a 10 km buffer.

“It is also working closely with the community on FireSmart and wildlife hazard mitigation projects,” said BCCFA.

“In addition, the community forest has provided an opportunity for WFN members studying forest management in university and college to apply their skills within their territory.”

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