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North Cowichan investigates mysterious new forestry ribbons on Stoney Hill

When forestry ribbons start showing up on trees, you have to think the chainsaws aren’t far behind. When those ribbons are spotted during a pause in logging in North Cowichan’s Municipal Forest Reserve, it can be especially troubling.

Icel Dobell of the forest watchdog group, Where Do We Stand, recently came across numerous forestry ribbons while walking on Stoney Hill. “I couldn’t remember seeing them before — and not with that specific wording,” she said.

I went to Stoney Hill to see for myself and obtain the GPS coordinates of two sample trees — one with a ribbon that read “falling boundary,” the other “standing stem harvesting” — and forwarded the information to the Municipality.


What do the ribbons signify?

A municipal official conducted an on-site visit and told on Friday that the falling boundary ribbons appeared to be from 2018/2019 municipal forestry reconnaissance work that predated council’s decision to suspend logging pending consultation with the public and First Nations.

As for the standing stem harvesting ribbons, these are “indeed fresh” and were “not placed there by North Cowichan,” the official said, adding: “I searched the surrounding area and removed all the ribbons on North Cowichan property I could find….

“I am not aware of who or why someone placed the ‘standing stem harvest’ ribbon but forestry staff will continue to monitor the area.”

One important question remains: Are the falling boundary ribbons proof that Stoney Hill was targeted for logging prior to the pause?

“Not necessarily,” the Municipality replied, saying that “preliminary forest engineer reconnaissance doesn’t mean a specific area would have been acted on, rather it’s the first step in exploring the potential and gathering information for potential future forest management/planning purposes.”

Stoney Hill is a special place. The ribbons are a symbol not just of potential logging, but of a rare forest ecosystem deserving the highest protection. (

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— Larry Pynn, Jan. 14, 2022

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