Time for more enlightened forest management

the meeting’s speakers begged mayor and council for a pause in forestry operations

Time for more enlightened forest management

I attended North Cowichan council chambers on Dec. 19, where many concerned citizens eloquently challenged the existing management regime that governs our municipal forest reserve. By an estimated four-to-one margin, the meeting’s speakers begged mayor and council for a pause in forestry operations and appealed for a review of policies and practices.

Notably included among the speakers was a coterie of naysaying, retired foresters who thought current policies were just fine. During their careers, this fraternity had dutifully served their corporate masters, and mutely acquiesced to the final liquidation of Vancouver Island’s native forests. Commendably, some now step forward to offer their expertise to the community.

But stop and think! Hasn’t our reliance on these established experts often been ill founded? We are still struggling to recover the health of our precious watersheds as a result of industrial-style forestry in the Cowichan, and the cost to the public’s purse for this historic negligence will multiply for generations. Shouldn’t we seek a more enlightened path in shaping municipal forest management?

It is time to consult a new breed of progressive forester who understands the vital importance of biodiversity, the cumulative impacts of poor management, and the holistic balance of all intrinsic values — not least, public trust. It is time to fully enter the 21st Century, acknowledging that the “climate” has changed in every sense.

I join the chorus asking North Cowichan council to pause and conduct a comprehensive review of all municipal forest reserve policies and practices, guided by meaningful consultation with all constituents — many of whom possess a profound knowledge of, and an extraordinary passion for, this community’s shared environment.

Roger Wiles

North Cowichan

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