A partnership is being proposed that would see North Cowichan work with UBC and the Coastal Douglas Fir Conservation Partnership to plan and advance long-term, sustainable goals for the municipality’s forest reserve.
Peter Arcese, a professor and chairman of Forest Renewal BC in Conservation at UBC’s faculty of forestry, will appear before council at its meeting on April 17 to suggest that the municipality work together with the university and the CDFCP to identify “made in Cowichan” approaches to the management of the 5,000-acre municipal forest reserve.
He said the partnership would explore how North Cowichan might develop forest management plans to “sustain economic growth and enhance human well-being”.
The CDFCP is a round table of federal, provincial, NGO and academic science and management staff responsible for natural resource conservation in Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems.
“Last week, I discussed these general ideas with UBC faculty that have engaged in similar activities around B.C. and the world,” Arcese said in a letter to council.
“[The faculty] can offer insights on some of the issues we have helped communities address previously, including issues related to forest operations and harvesting, visual quality, fish and wildlife restoration and conservation, species-at-risk planning, recreational opportunity and business planning, and mill-revitalization and value-added products.”
Arcese said UBC’s faculty has also produced academic studies in the Cowichan region which estimate and map carbon and biodiversity values and their potential to “off-set” the opportunity costs of traditional forest harvest systems.
“At present, the CDFCP has received an opportunity to match federal funds available through Environment and Climate Change Canada’s ‘Priority Places’ program,” Arcese said.
“Discussions with CDFCP members and UBC partners suggest that a UBC/CDFCP/North Cowichan partnership might leverage enough matching support via in kind and philanthropic contributions to initiate scenario planning.”
At a meeting last month, North Cowichan’s council considered options for forestry operations within the municipal forest reserve in 2019, and endorsed just the completion of existing 2018 forestry contracts and harvesting of blow downs from the windstorm in December.
The municipality is now conducting a full review of its forest management practices within the reserve, and is seeking input from the public and professional sources.