Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser announced it has entered into a shareholder-managed Sustainable Forest License (SFL), covering the Kenora Forest in Ontario.
The company partnered with several First Nations, the Government of Ontario, and other forest companies and contractors in signing the historic agreement.
First Nations is a term of ethnicity that refers to the indigenous people of Canada who are not of Inuit or Metis decent. There are currently more than 630 recognized First Nations governments or bands.
Participants in the agreement include Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Naotkamegwanning First Nation, Ochiichagwe'Babigo'Ining First Nation, Weyerhaeuser, Kenora Forest Products, Wincrief Forestry Products, Kenora Independent Loggers, and other companies with forestry operations on the Kenora Forest. The new arrangement also provides an entry mechanism for additional First Nations who would like to join the new company.
Under the new licence agreement, Nations and industry shareholders will take over management of forestry operations. Miitigoog LP will handle all forest management aspects of the Kenora SFL, including planning, certification, compliance, road construction and maintenance and silviculture.
"I am pleased that industry and First Nations can work together to improve opportunities for First Nations members and Ontario citizens," said Chief Eric Fisher of Wabaseemoong Independent Nations and president of the new board of directors of Miitigoog.
"The transfer of this Sustainable Forest License is a terrific example of cooperation between private sector and First Nations companies in the north," said Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. "Both Weyerhaeuser and Miitigoog are to be commended for being good corporate citizens, and the McGuinty government is proud to have supported these partners throughout the process, as we transition into a new tenure and pricing system."
"Today's agreement shows that industry, First Nations, governments and others can come together in economic ventures that provide for access, representation, respect, understanding and collaboration," said Anne Giardini, president of Weyerhaeuser Co. "We look forward to working with and learning from our new partners."