A five-minute video showing the beauty of the six areas that make up North Cowichan’s municipal forest reserve has been posted online.
Icel Dobell, a member of the Where do We Stand group that was formed to protect and preserve the reserve’s 5,000 hectares, was the director and writer of the film, which was produced by Nanaimo-based Arrowsmith Media.
She said she wanted to make a short film for the public to see from a higher perspective, through drone footage, the extraordinary legacy of the municipal forests, a quarter of which she claims is planned to be clear cut in the next 12 years, and all of it within 50 years.
“As soon as people find out that a quarter of our municipality is public forest, the first thing almost everyone says is, ‘I thought all the forests were owned by private forest companies’. Then they ask ‘Why are we clear cutting our own forests? How much money are we making?’ The answer is, after the expenses of logging our public forests, the profit is about the price of an average home in North Cowichan.”
The Where Do We Stand group will speak to North Cowichan’s council at its meeting on Dec. 19 about its concerns and ask the municipality to suspend its logging plans in the reserve until experts are tapped for their input and the public has been thoroughly consulted on what people want for the future of these public lands.
The group was buoyed by its success in having the municipality put the construction of a logging road planned for Stoney Hill on hold after a recent meeting with senior managers in North Cowichan.
Dobell also thanked North Cowichan councillor Christopher Justice for his notice of motion that will be discussed at the same meeting on Dec. 19 that will ask council to stop the municipality’s logging plans in the Stoney Hill forest reserve area until a community discussion is held on the issue.
“We’re grateful to councillor Justice for his efforts, although he’s focused mainly on the Stoney Hill area, while we’re concerned with all parts of the entire reserve,” she said.
“There’s no question that the municipality has done a great job managing the forest reserve, but there has been so many changes in the area’s ecology, economy and social values in recent years that there should be a pause to allow for consultations with experts from a number of fields and the public on the future of our forest reserve.”
Bryan Wallis, a retired forest resources land manager with 45 years experience, said he firmly believes that North Cowichan’s forest reserves should remain a working forest to provide as wide a range of opportunities — socially, environmentally and economically — as possible.
“However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a social discussion on the range and scope of those management opportunities and activities,” he said.
“But there is absolutely no need to pause activities and plans (in the forest reserve) while a social discussion occurs. A suggested need for a pause would suggest that our municipal forests are not being managed to a high standard and that the current activities are not acceptable. I reject that notion. I am sure our municipal staff and current council would welcome citizen feedback and social discussion on our municipal forest.”