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Now's the time to get real info about municipal forest

Over the past year, I have read repeated letters to the editor that put out misinformation about the pause of logging for public consultation about the future good of our Six Mountains Community Forest (Tzouhalem, Prevost, Maple, Stoney Hill, Richards, Sicker). These letters attempt to discredit the extraordinary opportunity for carbon credits to protect our community forest for ecological values, and also to discredit the UBC consultants working with the municipality.

I am not here to cheerlead for these forestry-faculty advisors, but I must say I am very impressed by the facts they have delivered about the potential for carbon credits. These individuals do not deserve unfair and unkind accusations in the newspaper, including the wholly inaccurate reference that they are “retired forest folks” engaged in some sort of “group-grope.”

For the record, the UBC consultants are highly respected professionals.

We are coming down to the wire. Public consultation will be over before you know it. In the recent online forest survey and Zoom meetings the public came out overwhelmingly in favour of ecological, recreational, viewscape and spiritual values in our forests and against the continued systematic clearcutting of the mountains. The UBC team has been given the go-ahead to give us all our options — they will report back soon, then there will be another public consultation before council is called upon to make a decision.

This is a time for citizens to gain real knowledge about our forests, not to be misled by those who suggest logging is the only way to bring in revenue.

Know that our forests are worth more alive than dead — yes, for their ability to bring in carbon-credit cash, but also for all the other reasons we value them.

Carbon credits are not an end but a means to protect the forests that are our backyards, watersheds, lungs, sanctuaries, views, habitat… In an imperfect world, where we all pollute, carbon credits take from the profits of polluting industries to give back to nature, to protect ecosystems. It’s not perfect, as far as polluting, but until we evolve, carbon offsets serve profoundly.

Note that the B.C. government recently allocated more than $5 million to the Crofton pulp-and-paper mill to reduce emissions. The money was raised through carbon taxes. In a perfect world, Catalyst would pay for cleaning up its emissions. But Catalyst employs hundreds of workers in our Valley, and a shutdown due to economics would be disastrous for many families in our community.

You are about to be given your last chance to play your part in the future of the Six Mountains Forest. There is easy access to all the information through several local sources — the municipality (, The Citizen (, Where Do We Stand (,  Larry Pynn’s blog and the Discourse — providing updates on the debate about our greatest gift, the Six Mountains of forests that we have the legal right to protect.

No other community on the continent has such an opportunity. It is a great responsibility.

Icel Dobell is a community advocate and co-founder of WhereDoWeStand. Icel wrote and directed the short film "Save our North Cowichan Community Forests".

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