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Letter: Setting the record straight on the ‘imperilled’ Municipal Forest Reserve

Beware of false information spread by a few pro-logging advocates

Setting the record straight on the ‘imperilled’ Municipal Forest Reserve

Beware of false information spread by a few pro-logging advocates.

Have you noticed an air of disinformation swirling around on these winter days?

It’s coming from a loud few who believe in continued logging of North Cowichan’s Municipal Forest Reserve — which falls within the coastal Douglas-fir forest, the most imperilled forest landscape in B.C.

The thinking seems to be: toss out enough unsubstantiated claims and outright falsehoods and maybe people will believe they’re true.

Among the more exaggerated statements is the suggestion that outside environmental organizations and their money are flowing in to help stop clearcutting of the 5,000-hectare forest reserve.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the greatest things about the campaign to save the Six Mountains is that it is a local grassroots effort — started in late 2018, when citizens rose up by the hundreds to demand a say in management of the forest reserve they own.

There have also been statements about lost revenue that are so wild and unsubstantiated they do not warrant repeating.

Know that the forest reserve fund has been covering costs during the consultation process, but also know that the process has been unnecessarily delayed, time and again, and that it is incumbent upon council to reach a conclusion in a timely basis.

Remember, too, that the public consultation is forward looking.

The UBC Partnership Group has presented council with four potential forest-management scenarios — two logging, two conservation.

Both conservation scenarios are estimated to bring in millions of dollars more than logging revenue over 30 years thanks to carbon credits for leaving the forest standing.

Scenario #3 — Active Conservation — has the added advantage of allowing restoration and enhancement of ecosystems to promote biodiversity, while providing job opportunities, including for local First Nations.

Those tied to continued logging of our forest reserve can be dismissive of carbon credits and would prefer to keep doing what’s always been done rather than adopt a conservation vision.

But signs of change are unavoidable. Consider that Mosaic Forest Management — the largest private owner of forestlands on the B.C. coast — is getting into the carbon-credit market in a big way.

Some say carbon credits are a licence to pollute. But Mosaic expects its customers “to demonstrate the use of our credits as part of a larger corporate climate improvement initiative.”

North Cowichan could also choose who to sell its carbon credits to.

You often also hear that continued clearcutting of the forest reserve is sustainable — but that is a hollow term, if left undefined. Sustainable for whom, for what? The forest reserve is bankrupt of old-growth — and could be a poster child for species at risk.

A Forest Practices Board report has described the coastal Douglas-fir forest as “imperilled.” This forest type “has the greatest density of species in B.C. of provincial and global concern, has experienced the highest level of ecosystem conversion to human development (49 per cent), and almost all of its forests have been logged since European contact,” the board concluded.

Note that the BC Forests Ministry chairs the Coastal Douglas-fir Conservation Partnership, with more than 40 conservation groups and levels of government, seeking to protect this rare forest type.

North Cowichan is noticeably absent from this group.

Sadly, the social media claims by the pro-logging camp seem to get stranger by the day.

One post suggested that stopping logging in the forest reserve is the thin edge of the wedge, and that continued public access and even hunting could be put at risk.

In fact, public recreation in the forest reserve is one of the best reasons for preservation, along with enhanced biodiversity and tourism, reduced flood risk, protection of viewscapes, on and on.

The effort to end logging in the forest reserve is also not part of a greater campaign against logging in general. It is simply based on the need to protect the at-risk forest in our backyard, and the potential to receive revenue from an alternative source.

The public has already spoken out in favour of conservation during the first phase of public consultation.

Now is the time for citizens to reinforce their commitment to a conservation vision for the Six Mountains.

Read the Discussion Guide: https://bit.ly/3gBwlOX

Then take the online survey: https://bit.ly/3HaWVJV

The new deadline is Jan. 31.

Larry Pynn

Maple Bay

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