Canadian Forest Service Publications

The Queen Charlotte Islands. A discussion of forest sector development. 1999. Stennes, B.; Wilson, W.R. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria, BC. Working Paper WP-2000.01. 72 p.

Year: 1999

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 5431

Language: English

Series: Working Paper WP (PFC - Victoria)

Availability: PDF (download)

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The purpose of this report is to provide a short review on the relative economic status of the Queen Charlotte Islands (QCI) and to identify potential options for sustainable forest related development. A broad definition of forestry was adopted to include traditional timber and timber processing options, non-timber forest products, wilderness options and sport fishing activity.

It is clear that the current economic performance of the QCI is highly influenced by the commercial timber harvest and forests sector competitiveness. An estimated 35% of the QCI income is from the forest sector (despite the large proportion of non-regional employment in harvesting operations and very limited regional timber processing) As a consequence, the QCI economy is expected to be relatively sensitive to ongoing provincial efforts to reposition forestry. This repositioning is in response to, among other things, changes in public expectations on forestland use, improved information on forest inventory and ecology, emerging consumer expectations/acceptance on the environmental legacies of products, First Nations' land claims, and ever-increasing market competitiveness.

The report provides information on the QCI economic structure and a recent history of commercial forestry. It is the fundamental character of the QCI, the wilderness and the physical isolation, which create both the challenge and the opportunity to sustainable economic development. Insight into regional economic development experience is presented with a review of the literature on development and regional case studies on the US Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska. Both these regions recently had to adopt to major and abrupt reductions in federal timber harvest volumes.

The development options discussed the the report include: a more intensive silvicultural effort to capture the timber growth performance on the QCI; log exports, albeit on a restricted basis, via a selection harvest method; a log sort yard to facilitate improved local log supply; and a secondary manufacturing cluster in log home production. The potential and constraints on expansion in a selection of non-timber forest products (mushrooms, pharmaceuticals, floral greenery, and bottled water) are examined. The option for wilderness tourism based on the QCI wilderness and Haida Gwaii culture is also explored. A guide to preparing a business plan, a necessary part of assessing any manufacturing opportunity in development, is provided in the report.

It is unfortunate but sustainable economic development depends on the product of a variety of unknown factors and there is no formula or model that can be employed. However, despite this limitation there is merit in the due consideration of the regional fundamentals at work and the development options that are available based on those fundamentals. This is particularly true given the limited ability of the public sector to intervene with direct financial support. Instead, it is the institutional and regulatory settings and their impacts on sustainable development that are increasingly key public sector contributions.