North Cowichan considers joining group dedicated to conserving coastal Douglas-fir
Our forest type ‘contains more species at risk than any other ecological zone in BC’
North Cowichan council voted unanimously Wednesday to investigate joining the Coastal Douglas-Fir Conservation Partnership.
Council received 23 emails from citizens urging the municipality to join the partnership compared with one opposed. The 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve, also known as the Six Mountains, falls within the coastal Douglas-fir zone.
The partnership is a coalition of more than 40 conservation groups and levels of government — including the BC Forests Ministry — committed to “promoting and protecting” the coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone and its associated ecosystems.
Lyndsey Smith, program manager for the partnership, told council that the coastal Douglas-fir forest exists in a rainshadow created by Vancouver Island and features a Mediterranean climate with unique habitat for species. The problem, she said, is that humans also want to live in this desirable landscape.
Smith said the forest “has been significantly altered” and that conservation is not a “static point in time.” She supports “sustainable forestry,” including thinning to improve biodiversity and reduce wildfire risk. She noted that the current question in BC centres on overharvesting and the need to “readjust the balance.”
Logging and private land development, including for housing, are among the leading threats to coastal Douglas-fir forests, which are found on southeastern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and pockets of the south coast mainland.
A draft biodiversity report for North Cowichan states: “Historical and current logging and development pressure continue to threaten these natural ecosystems.”
The partnership says the CDF “contains more species at risk than any other ecological zone in BC (25 globally imperilled species and >225 species that are provincially imperilled or threatened).”
Councillor Christopher Justice proposed a motion that North Cowichan staff consider the “financial and resource” impact of joining the Coastal Douglas-Fir Conservation Partnership.
He said 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….”
The vote Wednesday was unanimous among six members of council. Mike Caljouw was absent. A decision on whether or not to formally join the partnership will occur later.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District is already a member.
For months, sixmountains.ca has urged North Cowichan to join the partnership. http://bitly.ws/LXmX
(Photo: Maple Mountain, overlooking Salt Spring Island)
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— Larry Pynn, July 21, 2023