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Letter: Discussion Guide ignores ‘imperilled’ coastal Douglas-fir forest, plays down clearcutting impacts

Noteworthy for what it does not contain

Discussion Guide ignores ‘imperilled’ coastal Douglas-fir forest, plays down clearcutting impacts

North Cowichan has released a Discussion Guide designed to better inform citizens participating in round two of the public engagement on future management of the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve.

While the document, prepared by Lees & Associates, provides some useful information on potential management scenarios, it is also noteworthy for what it does not contain.

Readers will see several photos of pretty viewscapes and folks on forest walks, but not one image of a clearcut.

In fact, in the entire 18-page document, there is only one reference to clearcutting, based on the results of the first round of public consultation: “Many community members expressed concern about harvesting practices, particularly the impact of clearcutting. Some respondents feel that cut blocks negatively impact views on the mountains, recreational experiences, and the ecological health of the forest.”

The guide also fails to mention a warning from the UBC Partnership Group that due to a legacy of cutting the backcountry, future logging will be increasingly visible to the public. In other words, the potential for denuded viewscapes for decades to come.

There’s also no mention of a report — deep-sixed by the municipality — that estimates 141 species at risk. Habitat loss including from logging and development are largely to blame.

Perhaps most incredible of all is the absence of any reference to our coastal Douglas-fir forest — a forest type which UBC describes as “imperilled” and which the B.C. Forests Ministry and other governments, including Cowichan Valley Regional District, are seeking to preserve.

Release of the Discussion Guide coincides with launch of an online survey asking the public to weigh in on four management scenarios presented by UBC on future management of the forest reserve.

Status Quo is based on logging 43.7 hectares per year which compares with 20.3 hectares under Reduced Harvest.

Active Conservation would allow the annual harvest of 3.9 hectares while Passive Conservation would have no logging.

UBC did a 30-year revenue projection for the various scenarios.

While logging produces more revenue early on, cash from the sale of carbon credits ultimately prevails — and by a wide margin.

Passive Conservation generates a net revenue of $39.6 million, Active Conservation $35.1 million, Reduced Harvest $30.7 million and Status Quo $31.3 million. The advantage of Active Conservation is that it would allow limited logging — but not clearcutting — for purposes such as restoring/enhancing ecosystem conditions that promote biodiversity, while providing some employment opportunities for First Nations.

You have until Dec. 31 to take the survey: https://bit.ly/3HaWVJV

Other ways to get involved: https://bit.ly/3ATEWDx

Larry Pynn

Maple Bay

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