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Ecological values trump logging in forest reserve, public consultation reveals

‘Many community members expressed concern about harvesting practices’

The public supports ecological values over logging within the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve, according to a consultant’s study released today.

“There was agreement that the MFR is a valued community asset, and many are in favour of an approach to forest management that shifts the primary management focus of the MFR toward the ecological and recreational benefits,” says the Lees and Associates report on the first round of public engagement on the Six Mountains.

The report is a summary of interviews with 19 stakeholders, 1,145 responses to an on-line survey, and the views of 110 participants at four on-line workshops.

The “key takeaways” outlined in the report:

— “The importance of protecting and enhancing the ecological benefits of the MFR was a strong theme. Many expressed concern with the health of the forest, and indicated that the ecosystem services provided by the forest outweigh the potential revenue from harvesting.”

— “Many expressed that the MFR is a valued recreational asset and are in favour of forest management that supports hiking, biking, walking, ATVing, and horseback riding. There was also significant support for recreation as it relates to tourism.”

— “Many community members expressed concern about harvesting practices, particularly the impact of clear cutting. Some respondents feel that cut blocks negatively impact views on the mountains, recreational experiences, and the ecological health of the forest.”

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— “Some participants are supportive of the current management of the MFR. Of those in favour of harvesting, many are supportive of a shift towards eco-forestry and more sustainable forms of harvesting.”

— "Concern about climate change, and the impacts of wildfires, flooding and extreme weather emerged as a key theme. Many expressed the importance of managing the forest to increase resiliency to climate change.”

— "We also heard a wide range of perspectives on the cultural significance of the MFR. Many noted the importance of the forest for recreation, access to nature, health and well-being as well as education. Some respondents also expressed the importance of consulting the Quw’utsun Nation on the future management of the MFR.”

Specifically referring to the on-line workshops, Lees & Associates concluded: “While a wide diversity of themes and perspectives were shared…most participants felt that ecological values, rather than economic values, should hold the highest priority for the future management of the MFR. Recreational benefits were also highly valued.”

During the on-line survey respondents expressed the following priorities: “protecting and enhancing sensitive ecosystems, water quality, quantity, and watershed health, bird & wildlife habitat, mature forests and maximizing carbon storage within the forest to help mitigate climate change.”

The consultant’s findings will be discussed at council on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Read the full report: https://bit.ly/34dkXCX.

(Larry Pynn photos, Mt. Prevost)

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— Larry Pynn Feb. 4, 2022

Al Siebring photo _edited.jpg