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THUNDER BAY, ON: Three years after the First Nations of Aroland, Eabametoong and Marten Falls signed a co-operation agreement on forest tenure and forestry related economic development, officials from the Agoke Development Corporation (ADC) announced today that they signed a Forestry Agreement (the “Agreement”) with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. ADC was established in 2015 by the three First Nations to seek a greater role in the management of the Ogoki Forest. The forest was identified as a priority for forest tenure in 2012 and is currently a crown managed unit.

The Agreement gives ADC the right to implement an interim forest management approach on the Ogoki Forest while they negotiate a long-term management licence. It includes the right to harvest and responsibility to undertake renewal and maintenance in the forest. A quarterly periodic progress review including the implementation of the Independent Forest Audit action plan will also be part. ADC will be entirely responsible for the management of the silviculture and road programs. The Agreement expires on March 31, 2020 with a final date of the extension term which can be no later than March 31, 2022.

ADC has been working with local First Nations to identify and implement ways of allowing them to share in the benefits provided through forest management and the proper planning. Since 2016, ADC has built tremendous capacity by harvesting fibre to the Longlac sawmill as they explore expanding their market base. It is continuing partnership discussions with regional consuming mills and is working on a plan to re-start the sawmill in Nakina that could bring long-term economic development to the region and upwards of 300 jobs. ADC has also completed the annual work schedules and annual reports and in September 2017 began working with stakeholders and partners in the development of the next 10-year forest management plan (FMP) for 2020-2030. The current FMP is set to expire in March, 2020.

ADC sees a direct role First Nations peoples have in environmental stewardship and believes the future of the Ogoki Forest relies on strengthening the vital links between a well-managed, healthy forest, industry and local communities. ADC is committed to do its part, in the spirit of partnership, to make sustainable choices that, at the same time, improve everyone’s shared quality of life. Signing the Agreement today were Agoke Development Corporation President Mark Bell, and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry District Manager Chris Magee.

The Ogoki Forest is located 400 km north-east of Thunder Bay immediately east of the Wabakimi Provincial Park and is approximately 10,900 km² in size. It is in the traditional territories of Aroland, Eabametoong and Marten Falls within James Bay Treaty No. 9.

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