We should look at the municipal forest as a series of woodlots
I offer some views in the ongoing interest of those who will have further opportunity to provide input into our municipal forest management through consultation on our management practices.
I have read the entire agenda and minutes of our TAC committee. I see there is significant momentum toward some agendas that in my view are unworkable. This would be “landscape level planning” and a carbon offset project, especially a 30 year commitment. I was hired by the Greater Victoria Regional District in the late 1980s to undertake an audit of the forestry practices of the Greater Victoria watershed, which led to the limited practices they now have. I also was hired by the Regional District of West Kootenay to undertake a forestry practices review of their region, which was the precursor to their more recent and ongoing views of landscape level planning, while still maintaining forest jobs and economic opportunity. Anyone who knows this area, knows there is a large and vocal minority who are strongly environmentalist/conservation view; and that region is working toward some of that agenda.
Let me be clear, the examples used by the UBC “team” (which has been consulting with our community), are from the Kootenays and are for extensive large forest areas far in excess of North Cowichan’s small, fragmented forests. They do not apply in the form proposed. Landscape level planning is not new and further foresters are using these approaches throughout B.C. currently; it’s just that our 5,000 fragmented hectares are not suitable to apply this sort of broad management practice. We basically have nothing more than woodlots, several of them in small areas, and we should manage them accordingly.
I understand that there are politics at play here and there is significant momentum toward studying and consulting and such. I hope that our staff, TAC committee and council recognize that our small forests cannot be everything to everyone. We cannot save the world on the backs of our small, fragmented forests.
We are in my view far, far better to start with simple, clear management objectives of a woodlot(s) and then manage toward those objectives for our community. Meaning one woodlot management plan for Stoney Hill, one for Mt. Richards, one for Mt. Provost, one for Maple Mountain. Each block has some distinct values worth noting and managing toward. This could mean, complete or partial preservation, some or all working forest, hiking trails, mountain biking opportunities and such. Our areas are far too small to accommodate everything for everyone, or I will loosely say, “save the world”. The sheer fact that we have managed forests to talk about in the first place is, in fact, showing that we have nurtured our forests in such a way as to achieve the values our community has required of them. In a broad sense there is absolutely nothing unique about our municipal forests. They are replicated everywhere on the east side of Vancouver Island. There are a few features in those forest areas worthy of special attention, such as the regional park and viewscapes at Stoney Hill, already recognized. Some views for thought.