This was supposed to be the year that North Cowichan scaled back its logging and reviewed its forestry operations.
This was in reaction to a groundswell of interest beginning in December with packed council meetings, petitions, letters to the editor and public meetings.
What has happened since?
In this year of pause and consultation, it turns out that we are increasing our logging activities 50 per cent over 2017. With blowdown recovery and patch logging, we are expecting to log more than 16,000 cubic metres in 2019 vs. 10,500 cubic metres in 2017.
A terms of reference for a Municipal Forest Review was adopted by council emphasizing the best and highest use of the forest, but there has been no indication as yet that the forest review is being conducted in an organized, methodical and meaningful manner. Specifically, there appears to be no one managing the process.
There appears to be uncertainty as to what the review is actually supposed to address. There are no clear objectives. There is no work plan or schedule beyond a commitment to complete the process by January 2020.
There appears to be division among the FAC about what the terms of reference actually mean. Indications are that staff and many of the committee view the review as being focused on traditional operational considerations (essentially an audit), while other members believe it important to sort out the mission and management philosophy/framework before making judgments about what highest and best use means in terms of land use, land use priorities, management objectives and more.
The UBC Faculty of Forestry recently made a generous offer to collaborate with the municipality in its review and consultation process. This seems like a wonderful opportunity to kick start the process. Has the municipality responded to UBC?
It’s time to put someone in charge of the Forest Review and get things rolling.