Our Understanding - North Cowichan Forest Reserve Logging Strategy

January 4, 2019
Research

We are not foresters - this is what we learned from reading the reports on the North Cowichan website.

Summary:

25% of North Cowichan is a municipal forest reserve (5,000 HA)

Owned by the citizens and managed by elected officials

Targeted logging up to an annual maximum of 2% of the total forested area is conducted as part of sustainable management of the MFR. This model is supported by an integrated forest management plan that balances harvesting, recreation, and conservation. The annual allowable cut (AAC) is 20,000 cubic metres per year.

The method of harvesting is clearcutting with reserves. A clearcut is an area of forestland where most of the standing trees are logged at the same time and a few trees remain post-harvest. Forested buffers are left around streams and lakes, and the area is replanted within two years of harvest.

Based on the Forestry Reports from 2012 to 2017 - the average annual cut is 44 hectares which is equal to 83 football fields.

If we cut 2% per year - we are recycling the forest every 50 years

This produces enough revenue (approx. $500,000) to fund the management of the forest, the development of hiking and biking trails with additional revenue generated for non-forestry programs. This equates to a $1 to $2 tax savings per month for a taxpayer with a house valued at $400,000. (The amount of revenue per year will vary substantially based on the actual cut size and market pricing for our logs)

In 2017 - the Forestry Report shows a net benefit of around $500,000

Logging Sales $1,153,781
Direct Logging Costs $318.697
Planting $72,735
Tree Protection $47,939
Logging Roads $160,000
Site Preparation $665
Silviculture $51,986

The Forestry program generates 10 to 12 person years of work annually, depending on the activity level of the year.

Our understanding of the process is as follows:

  • logging roads are cut into the forest
  • clearcuts averaging 7 hectares (13 football fields) are cut on one or both sides of the logging road
  • some trees are left for seeding and diversity
  • the slash (debris) is burned in the fall (average 87 piles burnt per year - 2012-17 Forestry Report)
  • the new trees are planted in the spring

The following video shows the clear-cutting process at Mt. Prevost over a 20 year period.

note: the forest to the far left (west) is not part of the Municipality

Most of the logging has been done out-of-site on Sicker, Richards and Prevost. Now we are running out of back mountain forest and are looking to expand logging operations to where it is more visible on Stoney Hill, Maple and Tzouhalem.

This article is designed to pose questions and spark debate, not to provide answers. This article is based on online research, talking with experts and visual observation. Please use the online form below if you believe there is more to this story than we are aware of.

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Location

District of North Cowichan, Vancouver Island BC