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Report confirming ‘feasibility’ of carbon credits in forest reserve kept from public

North Cowichan releases report only after freedom-of-information request

North Cowichan kept from the public a consultant’s report that upheld earlier research on the potential for carbon-credit sales over logging in the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve, freedom-of-information documents show.

The Municipality released the report — stamped “Private & Confidential” — only after a FOI request by The names of the consulting company and the individuals who produced it are redacted.

Ted Swabey, Chief Administrative Officer for North Cowichan, said “at this time I cannot confirm the author of the report. We do not have the consultant’s permission to do so.” has learned the company is KPMG, though why the company wanted secrecy and why the Municipality agreed to it given the report’s value to public discussion on future management of the MFR remain key unknowns.

Kevin Dove, director of corporate communications for KPMG, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The findings of the KPMG report are contained in a “private & confidential” document titled “Assessment related to Forest Carbon project feasibility.” It is dated June 16, 2023, and signed by municipal forester Shaun Mason.

Council considered the report at in-camera meetings on Nov. 15, 2023, and Mar. 6, 2024, Swabey said.

In November 2022, UBC Partnership Group — including carbon-credit specialists, 3GreenTree— delivered a report to North Cowichan showing the municipality stands to earn millions of dollars more in carbon-credit sales than logging over a 30-year period.

Some people who support continued logging of the forest reserve, including Councillor Bruce Findlay, questioned the validity of the report.

In response, council spent $12,519 to have KPMG review the findings.

Said Swabey: “Staff initiated this review and retained a consultant to review the data 3GreenTree used to inform its analysis to help with confidence in the report and its outcomes that was presented to Council.”

The KPMG report on that review concluded that the 3GreenTree “analysis and supporting data provides a reasonable and conservative approach to demonstrate the initial potential of a forest carbon project. Our review of the Assessment did not reveal any significant deficiencies or concerns about the Assessment’s conclusion of the high-level feasibility of potential carbon projects” in the forest reserve.


The KPMG report references an “Engagement Team,” but names are not included.

One team member “holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry, a MBA and is a Registered Professional Forester” with expertise in forest carbon.

Another is a manager with “carbon modelling experience in the forestry sector and has supported the development of successful forest carbon offset projects for clients.”

And another is a consultant in “forestry practice with forest management experience and is actively engaged in forest certification and forest carbon projects."

So, why did North Cowichan hide the report?

“At the time we did not see the value because it basically confirmed the values used as part of the 3GreenTree analysis were reasonable,” Swabey said.

Mayor Rob Douglas said Wednesday he could not add much more, since the report was discussed in-camera, but did comment: “It was a staff-initiated project, and my understanding is they were happy with the work done by 3GreenTree consulting, but they just wanted to double check the numbers. Based on the results of that exercise, staff were still confident in the analysis done as part of the review of the Municipal Forest Reserve."

Now that the report has been released through FOI, the Municipality has posted the document on its website:

The municipality has still not shown the report to Quw’utsun Nation, which is holding closed talks with the municipality over future management of the forest reserve.

“No, we have not at this time, but it could be part of future discussions,” Swabey said.

Public consultation has shown 76-per-cent support for conservation management of the forest reserve, with just 17 percent supporting status-quo logging.

(Photos: Mt. Prevost, Maple Mt.)

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— Larry Pynn, April 3, 2024

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