Wahkohtowin attended the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) conference in Bali to represent the interests of Indigenous communities in responsible forest management and sustainable forestry practices.
The theme of the GA was “Shaping solutions for resilient forests”, focusing on forest stewardship solutions to the issues of biodiversity loss and social inequities being worsened by climate change.
Vibrant tropical forests, white sandy beaches, and a Bali’s hot and humid climate were the backdrop for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) General Assembly (GA) 2022. These assemblies are scheduled to occur every 3 years, due to the pandemic this was the first in person GA in 5 years, and also the first one that I have ever attended. It was a whirlwind experience, and I came out the other side with a better understanding of how FSC policies can have an impact on a global level, but also how we can use them to improve the management of certified forests in our own Northern Ontario territories.
The theme of the GA was “Shaping solutions for resilient forests”, focusing on forest stewardship solutions to the issues of biodiversity loss and social inequities being worsened by climate change. Since I am an organizational member on behalf of Wahkohtowin, I was able to cast a votes on the dozens of motions that were debated to shape the way these topics are handled by FSC. Some of the motions that were passed by majority votes during the assembly ranged from “Addition of French as FSC’s Third Official Language” to “Use landscape-wide approaches adapted to local conditions and strengthen Standard Development Groups (SDGs) to improve protection of Intact Forest Landscapes.
In addition to the daily voting, I was able to participate as a panelist in a side event discussion on Indigenous Cultural Landscapes. As the Project Forester for Wahkohtowin, I brought the on the ground experience lens to an esteemed group of individuals with insights for Indigenous communities and forest managers who are seeking to understand cultural landscapes from an Indigenous perspective, as well as the application of this concept in the forest management context.
The event contributed to the global FSC International growing awareness and understanding of Indigenous Cultural Landscapes within the resource management sector and supported concepts for ongoing standards development.
The general assembly lasted for 6 action packed days, but the outcomes will fill the workloads of many people for the next few years. I feel very fortunate to have been able to connect with inspiring individuals from all over the world who share the passion of improving the way we manage forests. It was a humbling experience to witness and reassuring that we are not alone in our pursuits for protection of the land at Wahkohtowin. After attending the general assembly, I feel invigorated to continue my work, knowing that being a member of FSC means being part of a global movement that believes in Forests For All Forever.