A scientist at the University of Saskatchewan says more focus should be given to community forest models.

Ryan Bullock recently co-authored a book examining the topic in detail.

He says community-managed forests can take on many forms, but the idea is generally based around making sure the local forest is accessible to the population.

It also ensures that citizens share in the benefits and have some say over how the forest is managed:

“I think that one of the most important things a community can achieve through community forestry is the development and implementation of a community-based land use plan or a community-based forest management plan where they can integrate the various aspects of local control, local benefits and multiple use to a plan that suits their particular location.”

He says community forests place an increased emphasis on decision-making by local members.

In British Columbia, for instance, he says the community of Creston put rules in place to ensure logging stopped near a local watershed.

In Saskatchewan, he says one attempt was made at this with the formation of Northwest Community Timber Supply Area back in the 1990s.

Bullock says implementing community forest models in Saskatchewan can be extremely difficult:

“Without changes to the current forest policies that we have at the provincial level, it’ll be very difficult for community forests to be formed.”

Bullock says the first step towards changing this is to get the message out.