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Private logging should encourage North Cowichan to protect its forests

This letter-to-the-editor first appeared in The Cowichan Valley Citizen.

The logging of private forest lands, including for vineyards, is generating plenty of concern in the Cowichan Valley.

It should also be a wake-up call to North Cowichan council to do what it can to protect B.C.’s most at-risk forest type — the coastal Douglas fir — found in the Municipal Forest Reserve.

The latest controversy centres on California vintners logging 24 hectares of land off Menzies Road to grow grapes. Most of the logged land consisted of coastal Douglas fir.

The fact the property could be logged legally — and so quickly — shows how vulnerable coastal Douglas fir forests are in private hands. It took a feller buncher machine only about a week to remove the forest, putting the lie to those who claim that logging in North Cowichan is vital for job creation.

Here’s what the BC Agriculture Ministry has to say about the logging operation: “Operating a vineyard is a farm use that cannot be prohibited on the Agricultural Land Reserve. The Agricultural Land Reserve Use Regulation allows for the development of land, including the cutting of trees, if that development is necessary for the land to be used for farming.”


The Menzies Road property is by no means an isolated case. One can see evidence of logging on private lands throughout the valley. So what’s to be done about it?

At this Wednesday’s council meeting, Councillor Christopher Justice will propose a motion that North Cowichan consider the “financial and resource” impact of joining the Coastal Douglas-Fir Conservation Partnership.

The Partnership consists of more than 40 organizations and levels of government dedicated to “promoting conservation and stewardship of coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems.”

Logging and private land development are among the leading threats to this forest type, or biogeoclimatic zone.

A draft biodiversity report for North Cowichan confirms: “Historical and current logging and development pressure continue to threaten these natural ecosystems.”

It is no small irony that while the Agriculture Ministry supports removal of this forest, two other provincial departments — the Forests Ministry and Environment Ministry — are members of the protection-seeking partnership.

North Cowichan’s extensive, two-phase public consultation into the Municipal Forest Reserve has found overwhelming support for conservation values — not continued status-quo logging.

As Justice notes, membership in the partnership “will assist North Cowichan in its biodiversity protection work and community desires for greater emphasis on conservation of its forest landscapes….”

Indeed. Joining the partnership is an important next step in fulfilling the public’s wishes for this imperilled forest.

(Do you support conservation of North Cowichan's imperilled Douglas-fir forest, and membership in the Coastal Douglas-Fir Conservation Partnership? Let council know today. Email

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(Photos: Mt. Prevost)

— Larry Pynn, July 17, 2023

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