Golden opportunity on our forests
What an initiation for a new mayor and a predominantly new council; the largest turnout of people at a council meeting ever seen in the Valley. North Cowichan council has been swamped with public input about the management of the municipal forests. How fitting then that on April 17 council received a letter from Dr. Peter Arcese, UBC’s professor of forest renewal, regarding a proposed collaboration on “Developing Forest Management Plans to Achieve Shared Goals.”
Mayor and council welcomed the opportunity and on June 5 Dr. Steven Sheppard addressed council on “Community Engagement on Forest Activities & Engagement in General.” Dr. Sheppard presented four or five models of public engagement used successfully in other B.C. communities.
They also invited the UBC Conservation Group to address the Forest Advisory Committee. On June 17, a delegation of three UBC professors presented “Forests to Sustain Economies & People” to the committee.
Dr. Arcese gave an overview and cited examples from all across B.C. of successful collaborative forestry management models.
Dr. Verena Griess, professor in Forest Resource Management, cited the many ways forests are of value; aesthetics, timber, tourism, biodiversity, soil retention, to name a few.
Dr. Brad Seely, UBC research associate on the Faculty of Forestry, presented the economics of carbon offset sales which can range from $10-40/ton, potentially generating greater revenue than timber harvesting.
The cost for the initial phase of consultation would be $10-$15,000 and could be done relatively quickly.
There were a couple of FAC members who were appreciative and showed enthusiasm. There was no discussion about the many possibilities they presented and only a couple of questions about carbon offset sales.
I am honored that our community and its forests have been recognized and offered support by the UBC Faculty of Forestry. We have no say over logging on private land which is occurring on Vancouver Island at the alarming rate of three sq. meters per second or 34 soccer fields a day. However, our local government is considering a new Forestry Management Plan. We have the opportunity to prioritize watershed protection, biodiversity and recreation as goals along with revenue. Please write to the Municipality of North Cowichan and urge them to vote for collaboration with the UBC Faculty of Forestry at the Special Council meeting on July 8.
This is a golden opportunity, with impeccable timing, and I think encouragement is in order.