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BC Forest Discovery Centre needs balance on forestry issues

Society president is open to showing ‘both sides’

If you walk through the BC Forest Discovery Centre you’ll be amazed at the logging history preserved through old buildings, equipment and other memorabilia.

But you’ll be less impressed with the sanitized view of forestry as presented in the Forests Forever exhibit, opened in 2019.

The Centre’s official mandate includes “educating the public about life, work and the environment in forest communities of coastal British Columbia.”

Yet the Forests Forever exhibit reads more like an industry press release than a fair and balanced accounting of environmental forest issues.

Alf Carter, a retired pulp-and-paper executive who is president of the Centre’s board of directors, says it’s all about who pays the bills.

“That whole improvement to our footprint there was supported by the logging companies, so you might expect that there’s not going to be a whole lot of dwelling on any of the controversial stuff,” he told sixmountains.ca.

You won’t find any mention of the old-growth logging dispute or the fact extensive logging has left not a single old-growth tree in the Municipal Forest Reserve of North Cowichan (where the Centre is located), and no reference to logging’s impact on species at risk.

Case in point: the endangered northern spotted owl. You might remember IWA leader Jack Munro’s infamous quote to the New York Times: “I tell my guys if they see a spotted owl to shoot it.” Today, only a handful still live in the forests of southwestern BC.

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Carter says he’s open to other opinions.

“I certainly would agree, not as a president, because I can’t speak for the whole organization, by any means, but I can tell you personally I certainly wouldn’t have any (problem) with trying to show both sides of the old-growth forestry…discussion.”

Carter promised to raise the issue with his board. “The text of this discussion will be entertained at the next board meeting, I can assure you of that.”

North Cowichan contributed $25,000 last year to the Centre.

Councillor Tek Manhas serves as liaison. He alone has voted in favour of continued logging of the Municipal Forest Reserve even while a consultation process is underway to determine if the public wants more logging.

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— Larry Pynn, Aug. 21, 2021