To curtail harvesting in municipal forest would squander resource

I am a retired professional forester

To curtail harvesting in municipal forest would squander resource

Dear mayor and members of council:

I am writing to express my concern regarding the cessation of harvesting proposal put forward by the WhereDoWeStand group for the municipal forest reserve. I strongly disagree with their position and proposal.

I am a retired professional forester who has had the opportunity, over the past 25 years, to observe the manner in which the forest reserve has been managed. It is and has been very well managed by past and current municipal foresters! Over the past 35-plus years the municipality has always had a professional forester on staff to oversee the planning and management of the municipal forest lands. The municipal forester, in turn, has had a forest advisory board of professionals from a variety of forest and ecological disciplines to assist in the development of management regimes and to provide independent guidance on planned forest management activities. In addition, professionals who have specialized forest management and related discipline expertise have been engaged to provide guidance in a variety of forest management specialties — viewscape planning, terrain stability mapping, provisions for accommodating wildlife, and forest site ecosystem classification. The mission statement in the official community plan: “to maintain and enhance North Cowichan’s valuable municipal forest resources for ALL users through sustainable forestry, ecological stewardship, and sound forest management” has been very effectively achieved.

I had the opportunity to sit in on the Dec. 19 council hearing when members of the WhereDoWeStand group put forward a proposal to “pause” timber harvesting in the forest reserve. Disappointingly, very few valid facts were put forward to support their position. Later, in an effort to advance their cessation of harvesting proposals, letters were submitted to the editor by supporters of the WhereDoWeStand group questioning the professional ethics and intent of forest professionals who spoke at the Dec. 19 meeting. Their disparaging comments about the presentations by the forest professionals were both disappointing and without merit.

The municipal forest reserve is an excellent forest management model that needs to be fully understood and appreciated by all members of council! Most importantly, members of council need to find time to personally see and appreciate forest management as it is practiced in the municipal forest reserve.

It is particularly important before considering any decision regarding cessation of harvesting, albeit temporary or otherwise, that council fully understand facts related to the municipal forest reserve. Below is a brief summation of some forest management facts and other important economic impact effects.

Some important municipal forest management facts that should be understood:

• the MFR is managed for multiple use on a long term sustainable basis

• harvesting is limited to a maximum not exceeding the long term sustainable harvest level

• prior to commencement of road development or harvesting activities a wide variety of other resources are included in the planning process — these include, old growth guidelines, guidelines for water resource and riparian zone protection, biodiversity planning, provisions for protection of wildlife, forest recreation opportunities, silvicultural stand management provisions, protection of sensitive sites, terrain stability assessment, and protection of visually sensitive viewscapes.

• reforestation immediately follows logging

• newly planted trees are “tended” in order to reach “free to grow” stage with minimum delay

• harvesting of minor forest products takes place

• forest fire protection provisions are in place

• with the province evaluate and remove fire hazardous material in areas of high interface fire hazard

• forest management actions implemented, as needed, to mitigate insect and tree disease issues

Some important economic impact facts related to logging and forestry activities in the municipal forest that need to also be appreciated:

• logging and forestry employment is created in the municipal forest

• logs produced in the municipal forest help support jobs in local sawmills

• sawmill wood chips and hog fuel assist with fibre supply and employment at the Catalyst Mill

• log sale revenues help fund municipal services

• taxes paid by local logging and forestry crews help support the North Cowichan municipality

• logging and forestry worker wages help support local businesses

The municipal forest reserve is a wonderful, valuable asset that belongs to ALL members of the community. In turn, ALL members of the community need to have the opportunity to benefit from the management of the forest, whether it be through recreational activities, employment, spin off economic benefits to local merchants, or the benefits that log sale revenues from the forest bring to ALL who live in the municipality. Council making any decision that curtails or halts timber harvesting would significantly impact these benefits. To curtail harvesting to a level anything less than the long term sustained yield level would be squandering some or all of the benefits generated by this tremendous forest resource — a resource that belongs to ALL citizens of the community, not to simply a select few who advocate something short of responsible multiple use management on a long term sustainable basis for the municipal forest reserve.

I urge council to fully endorse the forest management and harvesting plans for the municipal forest reserve and to firmly reject the cessation of harvesting proposals put forth by the WhereDoWeStand group!

Robert E. Beard

North Cowichan

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