Confederation College's Daryl Skworchinski has been named chairman of the Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation, which will make local decisions, in consultation with industry and four Northern Ontario communities, about wood and fibre allocation.
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Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Mines says he doubts forestry will ever return to its glory days.
But, Michael Gravelle said on Friday, there’s no reason to doubt it can’t rebound and challenge mining in terms of job creation and economic impact in the province. He added the creation of the Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation and the appointment of its first chairman and board of directors is a positive step in that direction.
Gravelle, speaking for Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti, announced Confederation College’s Daryl Skworchinski has been tagged to lead the NFMC, which will make local wood and fibre allocation decisions in four forest management units – Nagagami, White River, Big Pic and Pic River.
Change is good, Gravelle said.
“Before we saw our crown wood sitting on the forest floor during very difficult times, not able to allocate it to those who had some keen interest in getting some wood supply to their own project,” he said.
The new model, rolled out two years ago in the province’s forest tenure reform, will allow Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities to get together with industry and use the forests in a much more efficient manner to create jobs and help restore a forest sector that employed 84,500 people directly in 2005, just 53,500 in 2011.
“It is a pilot,” Gravelle cautioned, adding another local forest management corporation is being considered for Northeastern Ontario.
“We want to see how it works. We’ve now got a board in place, a competent able board of people who are well-acquainted with the forestry sector, who will now be working to put a general manager in place, to put up a business plan to get fully operational within a year to basically go about re-energizing our forest sector in a way that I think is going to become very exciting for the future of the industry.”
Skworchinski said localizing the decision-making process is win-win for everyone.
He added they’ve been collectively working toward a successful LFMC model for the past three or four years.
“This is really a gigantic step in terms of forest tenure. It’s totally new, but the most exciting part is it’s really been driven by the communities. So it’s truly been a ground-up approach. It hasn’t been a government-down approach,” he said.
“It’s been people on the ground, in our communities coming up with the thoughts, the ideas and the plan to make this happen.”
People in Ontario’s northwest understand the needs and abilities of the region, and will make much better decisions at the local level. Coupled with the bounce-back of the forest industry, he believes it’s a model that will work well.
Changes to government legislation and funding will also help the plan succeed.
“I think there is a shift in what we can do from a business-planning standpoint to ensure that we are successful.”
He added he expects to see results within six to 12 months, and ultimately the LFMC model will be the envy of the forestry world on a global scale.
“In five years we’re going to be a model that is going to want to be replicated,” he said.
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