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Knowledge link

The NorthernPartnership has become a knowledge link for natural resource management information in northern BC.

By Jim Stirling

Imagine a sort of knowledge store. A place to go and shop for information and a place where knowledge is collected and willingly shared. The Northern Partnership is a bit like that when it comes to natural resource management in the northern half of British Columbia. 

The Northern Forest Research and Extension Partnership, to give the partnership its full title, tries to be a link between those who generate knowledge and those who might benefit from it. "By providing the information transfer network, assisting in the identification of research and knowledge needs, and working with other organizations to provide a comprehensive system of extension services, we can make a significant difference to the social, economic and ecological quality of the people in the north," says Herschel Boydston, the Northern Partnership's executive director. 

How that comes about is explained in part by the partnership's membership. The not-for-profit co-operative includes resource based industries, governments, educational institutions, First Nations, environmental and conservation groups and regional communities. Any group or individual with an interest in the Northern Partnership's goals can become a member. 

The sharing knowledge part of the mandate is accomplished through workshops and conferences, publications, interactive Web sites and information data bases, as well as a catalogue of regional researchers and their areas of expertise. On the other side of the equation, the Northern Partnership stimulates knowledge use by discussions with the diverse range of groups comprising its membership and their affiliates. It helps develop knowledge by assessing needed research projects, helping arrange funding for them and liaising with others involved in forest research, resource management and community stewardship. 

Canfor Corporation, the largest forest company in the region and the largest lumber producer in the country, is a believer in the Northern Partnership approach. Canfor executive Steve Thorpe is chair of the partnership's board of directors. Also serving on the board are representatives of Slocan Forest Products, the Ministry of Forests, the Canadian Forest Service, a forestry consulting company, the University of Northern BC and SIFERP. SIFERP is the acronym for the Northern Partnership's sister organization serving the southern half of BC. 

One of the Southern Interior Forest Extension and Research Partnership's recent initiatives is the introduction of an Internet gateway called the Natural Resources Information Network. It's a resource centre-as close as a computer-which provides access to natural resource publications, organizations, events and researchers. The Northern Partnership is active on several fronts, helping community forest pilot projects in McBride, Fort St James and Burns Lake select research projects suited to their environments. 

It is also gathering information and educational products about the certification process for sustainable forest management practices and organizing and making available unpublished information about natural resources in the Prince George Forest Region. The last initiative is a parallel project to a 6,000-item catalogue assembled by the Northwest Community College in Smithers for the Prince Rupert Forest District. Even though it has a number of initiatives on the go, the Northern Partnership, true to its goals, is always open to sharing knowledge on new ideas for research and venture projects.

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