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North Cowichan absent from BC government-chaired partnership to protect rare coastal Douglas-fir forest

Its name is a handful — the Coastal Douglas-fir (& Associated Ecosystems) Conservation Partnership.

But know that the CDFCP is an important and valuable organization with an impressive list of more than 40 members ranging from conservation groups to municipal, regional, provincial and federal levels of government.

This is clearly not your average bunch of tree huggers.

The BC government chairs the organization, which includes Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Land Trust, Regional District of Nanaimo, and Islands Trust.

Unfortunately, one name is notably absent from the membership list — North Cowichan.

The goal of the CDFCP is to protect the most at-risk forest type in BC, the coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone, along with the associated “Coastal Western Hemlock Biogeoclimatic Zone, a very dry maritime variant.”

North Cowichan is a major owner of these lands through its 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve, so why hasn’t it joined the CDFCP?

“North Cowichan is not a member of the Coastal Douglas-fir Conservation Partnership group nor are we members of other groups of this nature,” municipal forester Shaun Mason told

“I am certainly familiar with the CDFCP and have liaised with both the chair and executive director in the past. The CDFCP is also represented in the forestry review through Peter Arcese who is on the steering committee.

“Depending on the outcome of the forestry review, staff may consider membership if it aligns with Council direction and/or Council directs staff to seek membership but it is not something we are considering while the forestry review is still on going.”

The minutes of a 2016 North Cowichan Forestry Advisory Committee meeting show that a representative of the CDFCP presented to the committee. In 2017, after a verbal report from then-municipal forester Darrell Frank, the committee "agreed that rather than join the Partnership, the Municipality should consider adopting certain recommended practices of the Partnership.”

Note that membership won’t cost North Cowichan a dime. But members are required to sign a "Statement of Cooperation” agreeing to "support working collaboratively to help conserve essential elements of CDFCP Region."

Funding in 2021-22 came from the federal Nature Smart program, and is being applied to find nature-based solutions to the twin problems of climate change and biodiversity loss in southwest BC. Projects have included terrestrial ecosystem mapping, carbon project feasibility assessment, literature review of hydrological modelling re: forest management, and cultural sensitivity training.

One has to wonder: has North Cowichan not joined the CDFCP because, until now, its priority has been on cutting rather than preserving these rare forests?

Let’s hope that changes soon as North Cowichan citizens continue to speak out in favour of conservation.

Subscribe free to for information on the pending next phase of public consultation on the four management options proposed by the UBC Partnership Group.

— Larry Pynn, Nov. 21/2022


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