Sustainable Resources

  • Priority Level: Moderately High
  • Issue Affects: All Residents & Business Owners
  • Solution Team: Council, Staff, Industry

Our Forestry Reserve & Sustainable Harvesting

North Cowichan is one of the few municipalities in BC that owns its own forest - the 5,000 hectare Municipal Forest Reserve (MFR). For years, the reserve was sustainably forested, returing significant monies to North Cowichan's coffers, while offering employment to the community. And, as required by BC law, for every one tree harvested, three trees were planted. The limit of each year's harvest was 20,000 cubic metres of wood, equalling less that 0.5% of the entire MFR.

The MFR was the result of an acquisition of land due to non-payment of taxes, in the 1930s and 1940s. For more specific history, please click here.

In 2018, North Cowichan council voted to put a hold on further harvesting of the MFR (after the end of the 2018/19 harvesting contract expired), due to an organized effort of dozens community members. After that request, a study was completed regarding the MFR and whether other options may be available to secure revenues from the MFR without active harvesting.

The MFR has remained untouched with respect to logging practices, since the middle of 2019. As such, the forestry reserve funds in North Cowichan's budget has depleted to continue to pay for ongoing upkeep of the forests, including road maintenance, silviculture, security, community services and fire protection. Up until 2019, those costs would have been covered by the harvesting & sale of the timber, along with a net profit of $hundreds of thousands of dollars, to the benefit of North Cowichan residents. Now we are sitting with an untapped resource and excessive costs, due to this halting of the harvest.

Like many other solutions on this webpage, let the job get done! By sustainably harvesting the forests, at the rate determined by the 1981 forestry management plan and continuous planting of new trees, we can once again build up our forest reserve fund and help pay for further community projects, or the purchase of additional land as was done around Chemainus Lake in 1995 & 1999. Given North Cowichan's forestry history, including world's-best sustainability processes, this really is a no-brainer. Unfortunately some believe selling "carbon credits", while leaving the MFR untouched, is the best use of our asset. While the investment returns may be similar on the income statement, the ethics aroung selling credits to heavy polluters, to make their operations look "climate friendly" or deemed "net-zero", are completely undesirable. That, to me, is a non-starter.

"Let our people go!" Let the municipal forester and his team do their jobs. We have an incredible forestry management plan, which is sustainable and the envy of industry. Many people believe our forestry management is the best there is, so let's maintain that record and do what's right for the forests and for the community. Let's get our sustainble forestry program back underway and have our assets turned into ethically-resourced products, resulting in sustainable cash flow into our community, for the benefit of all, especially our future generations.