Letter: North Cowichan leads the way on community forestry

Public consultation has generated considerable debate in the local paper and social media

North Cowichan leads the way on community forestry

The public consultation into the Municipal Forest Reserve has generated considerable debate in the local paper and social media.

Healthy discussion is good.

But it’s also important at this critical time that people have factual information upon which to base their opinions.

Note that the public came out in full force to attend the forest review online workshops and the open house at the Maple Bay Fire Hall.

At the online workshop I attended, 60 people volunteered two hours to learn and ask questions about eco-forestry, variable retention, sustainability, clearcutting, carbon offsets and many other forestry topics.

All four forest management scenarios were treated fairly and the participants were free to express our opinions.

The public discussion has shifted from a logging vs. no-logging debate to a much more nuanced discussion of ecology and modern forestry management practices.

The municipality should be commended for recognizing that a “community forest” is different than a “commercial forest.”

We are fortunate to own a 5,000-hectare forest. Other B.C. communities such as Cumberland and Salt Spring Island have raised millions of dollars to buy and conserve forest land.

The municipality should also be congratulated for signing a Memorandum of Understanding and starting parallel discussions with the Quw’utsun.

The mayor and council made the right decision by not pursuing a “talk and log” public engagement.

Our professional forester Shaun Mason RFP and the UBC Forestry partnership also receive credit for working together and showing a willingness to explore all available forest management options.

Note: all financial projections and the underlying assumptions including carbon offsets as revenue were vetted by the municipality.

Also, the community should be applauded for taking the time to learn about the forest and participate in the public engagement.

If you haven’t filled out the North Cowichan Community Forest Management Survey you can find it online at https://survey.givingopinions.ca/C266o

Rob Fullerton

North Cowichan