Cowichan’s forests are the focus of a presentation by the Cowichan Valley Naturalists on March 1, 2021. (Lorne Duncan photo)

Cowichan’s forests are the focus of a presentation by the Cowichan Valley Naturalists on March 1, 2021. (Lorne Duncan photo)

Seeing Cowichan forests beyond trees focus of meeting March 1

Over the last 150 years, intensive development has changed the landscape from extensive old forests

The Cowichan Valley Naturalists are inviting everyone to see Cowichan forests beyond the trees, with an online presentation on March 1 at 9:30 a.m.

Heather Pritchard is a professional forester with over 30 years experience in natural resource management. She was commissioned but the Cowichan Community Land Trust (CCLT) to research and produce a report proposing recommendations for protecting private forested lands in Cowichan. She will present her key findings in the online presentation. Her report, completed in October 2020, can be accessed on the CCLT website

Pritchard will be joined by Steph Cottell, executive director of the CCLT to discuss responses and proposed next steps.

So what’s it all about?

The CCLT has started to explore different ways that more private forested land can be protected in the Cowichan region through their project ‘Seeing Cowichan Forests Beyond Trees’. Over the last 150 years, intensive development has changed the landscape from extensive old forests to heavily roaded, logged, and cleared areas. Development, along with climate change, is impacting forest values such as water supplies and fish and wildlife habitat. Invasive plants and winter floods are increasing.

Science shows that at least 50 per cent of the watershed should consist of mature and old forests, meanwhile less than 10 per cent of Cowichan Valley ecosystems are protected. Increasing the amount of protected land is difficult because of the extensive amount of private land. While several barriers such as high land costs and lack of strong legal tools get in the way of protecting more land, creative and motivated people have found ways to ensure permanent protection of their forested land.

Local government Parkland Acquisition Funds and the federal Ecological Gifts Program are two programs that support increased land protection. New zoning to create conservation communities has been tried in several Vancouver and Gulf Island locations. Conservation covenants that permit ecologically-based harvesting is another tool. Carbon offset programs have been established to either permanently or temporarily protect high value forested ecosystems. Voluntary stewardship programs have also been used to educate landowners on how to recognise and protect ecological values on their land.

The CCLT is looking at how to turn the many possible tools into actions to protect forests on private land.

Email for the link to the Zoom session.

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Cowichan’s forests are the focus of a presentation by the Cowichan Valley Naturalists on March 1, 2021. (Lorne Duncan photo)

Cowichan’s forests are the focus of a presentation by the Cowichan Valley Naturalists on March 1, 2021. (Lorne Duncan photo)

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