Public sends North Cowichan decisive message of support for forest protection
On-line survey shows 76 percent of respondents back two ‘conservation’ options
The second and final phase of an extensive public consultation launched four years ago has confirmed overwhelming public support for “conservation” of North Cowichan’s Municipal Forest Reserve.
Presented with four management scenarios, participants in workshops and surveys expressed strongest support for Active Conservation, followed by Passive Conservation.
A consulting report released today found widespread public support for putting ecological values at the “core of future management plans” for the forest reserve — which falls within BC’s imperilled coastal Douglas-fir forest, rarest in the province.
Three-quarters of on-line survey respondents named Active Conservation or Passive Conservation as their preferred management scenarios.
In comparison, Status Quo logging recorded just 17 percent. The second logging scenario, Reduced Harvest, scored a rock-bottom seven percent.
The importance of “protecting biodiversity, watersheds, old growth forest, and habitats” emerged in the workshops, while respondents to the surveys cited the “environmental benefits” of the Active Conservation scenario.
The importance of managing invasive species, ecotourism, recreation, and the “rights of nature” also surfaced during the consultation.
The public consultation on the forest reserve — also known as the Six Mountains— has been repeatedly delayed, including due to covid and signing of a memorandum of understanding with local First Nations on a parallel forest consultation.
Indigenous consultations continue behind closed doors.
Results of the first phase of public consultation released in February 2022 showed that the vast majority of people supported the forests’ ecological values.
Asked what citizens valued most about the forest reserve in that first round, revenue to the municipality ranked 12th out of 14 choices, just above forestry jobs.
In this second round of public consultation, a total of 1,922 individuals filled out an on-line survey — 63 percent of them from North Cowichan.
A total of 215 North Cowichan residents were contacted through a random survey.
And 206 persons participated in in-person and on-line workshops.
Across the board — in both workshops and all surveys — participants expressed strongest support for Active Conservation, followed by Passive Conservation.
The UBC Partnership Group presented four scenarios for future forest management:
(1) Status Quo: logging 17,500 cubic metres of timber per year.
(2) Reduced Harvest: logging 7,400 cubic metres per year.
(3 ) Active Conservation: 1,300 cubic metres per year for purposes such as restoring and enhancing ecosystems, biodiversity.
(4) Passive Conservation: let the forests develop with minimal human intervention.
Over 30 years, the conservation scenarios stand to earn millions of dollars more through carbon-credit sales than logging, the UBC Partnership Group estimates.
Council will receive the report on March 7 at the Committee of the Whole meeting.
Read the report: https://bit.ly/3KVS1SW .
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— Larry Pynn, March 3, 2023