Letter: The Robin Hood of the forests — and a forest survey for dummies

Many people don’t know what the options are

The Robin Hood of the forests — and a forest survey for dummies

Last week, I attended a municipal Zoom forest meeting to chart the future of our Six Mountains Forests and learned that many people don’t know what the options are. Some people said they love and want to protect the forests but thought there was no choice but to log for revenue. Some thought logging our community forests creates lots of jobs in our community. Some thought public consultation about our municipal forests is connected with the B.C. forests. Some didn’t know the UBC Team has reported we could make as much or more money from not logging as logging. Some didn’t know carbon credits are like the Robin Hood of the forests — a way to take from organizations emitting carbon, (and until we figure out truly clean energy, we’re all part of it), to give back to nature, to fund forest carbon sequestration projects. Well, no wonder people are confused.

Beginning in 2018, hundreds of people have repeatedly asked for forest education from a variety of forest experts, not just from the industrial sector. It hasn’t happened; isn’t going to happen — so now, as public consultation suddenly races forward, it’s up to us to get the facts out. For myself, I’m going to fill in a few blanks and then give a short summary of what you can do now, fast — with one week to go.

Fact: We don’t need to log for revenue. For those who love our community forests but understand we need money to manage them, to replant after natural occurrences, to fire-safe, to stay on top of the proliferation of invasive species brought in by logging and roads — there’s money to be had and jobs to be created, and it’s by not logging.

Fact: Wall Street is quickly buying up forest ecosystems. They don’t need a crystal ball to see what’s coming, and neither do we. With climate change, with the disappearing global forests (B.C. leading the way), and their ability to sequester carbon, they’re now worth gold and in future will become an increasingly lucrative resource, making shareholders rich. One of the coffers that could be filled is ours — but the spoils belongs to the primary shareholder: the forests.

The Six Mountains Forests are rare, endangered ecosystems. On the Valley side they are mostly second-growth, naturally regenerated (not tree plantations), already functioning as old-growth forests. Ours is the only community on the continent to own such a vastness of ecosystems — 5,000 hectares we can legally protect that surely belong not to us but to the young and future generations. In a moment they’ll be asking us, personally, what did we do to protect their futures. We still have a chance to do something profound now.

Here’s what you can do: to their credit, the public consultants, Lees and Associates, have created a survey for dummies: It’s so simple! Like the Zoom meetings, we don’t have to be professors to do it. We can fill it in with points. All we need to know is what we love and what we want to leave our children and grandchildren.

For myself, for example: Intact forest ecosystems. Ecology. Biodiversity. Wildlife habitat. Climate resilience. Species at risk. Rare/endangered Coastal Douglas-fir Biogeoclimatic Zone, Coastal Western Hemlock Zone. No logging. Protect forests for: trails, recreation, mental/ physical health, spiritual retreats, viewscapes, control of invasive species. Protect watersheds, air quality, oxygen — intact forests to protect against floods, fire, (mature trees = fire blocks, versus tree plantations = fire fuel), wind damage (intact forests + roots connected within the mycelium networks = wind blocks). Plant alder and other nitrogen-fixing deciduous trees to heal soil, stop root rot. Plant no conifers until soil healed. Carbon sequestration to mitigate climate crisis. Carbon project to pay for restoration, management, jobs…

And under comments: Leave fallen trees, cut branches, mulch (vs burning), leave “woody debris” on ground for decomposition, habitat, food, soil = fire safe. Leave forests to regrow naturally; let nature do what only nature can do: slowly, with time, to build old-growth forests.

Last day for survey, Dec. 13: northcowichan.ca/forestry

Icel Dobell

North Cowichan