Current conventional forest practice can’t continue in forest reserve

To control costs, council should reject the call to hire any new consultants

Current conventional forest practice can’t continue in forest reserve

On Feb 15, I believe council can solve both issues of long term forest reserve strategy and short term budget considerations, in the following manner.

First, it must be accepted that the current practice of conventionally tree farming the forest reserve with short rotation patch cuts is not ecologically sustainable, and that practice will not be tolerated by the community at large much longer, especially in places such as Stoney Hill.

To balance this fact with the desire to limit tax increases to the rate of inflation, council should approve Councillor Justice’s original motion to halt all logging on Stoney Hill. For 2019, council should prioritize salvage logging, and any new logging shall be done only to the extent required to cover forestry department operating costs.

To control costs, council should reject the call to hire any new consultants or outside experts to solve our forestry issue for us. We need to solve this issue as a community.

Instead, council should engage in a strategy to build our region’s capacity for delivering change. Start by reinvigorating the existing mechanisms for public oversight of the forest reserve: expand the Forest Advisory Committee to include community members from outside the forestry profession; encourage public participation at FAC meetings; redouble efforts to communicate in general about the forest reserve, including expanding the availability of tours of the municipal forest.

And most importantly, embark on an annual forestry town hall process similar to what is done with the annual budget town hall events. The forestry town hall events can become a venue to share and test ideas, provide meaningful input to policy, and build networks. The community needs a forum to do the hard work of creating strategies and relationships that will enable us to manage the forests for a diverse set of values.

From that activity, the capacity for change will begin to form. We will then begin to see the entrepreneurial processes unfold that will help us solve the economic riddle of how to shift away from conventional tree farming and toward reestablishing a productive, resilient ecosystem in our municipal forest.

I urge council to demonstrate faith in our community’s innate ability to change and adapt. Set the stage for a sustainable future by balancing the short term and long term, and providing us with opportunities to move ahead with new ideas and relationships to each other and the land.

Chris Crowther

North Cowichan

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