1. Council Meeting Aug 21 - 1:30pm - Ramada Inn - Forest Review & Public Engagement
  2. Stoney Hill: stumps speak for themselves (Cowichan Valley Citizen)
  3. The Magic of the Six Mountains

1. Council Meeting - Forest Review & Public Engagement

1:30 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Ramada Duncan
140 Trans-Canada Highway
Aug 21, 2019 | 1:30pm

Staff will present a report on the forest review and public engagement.

Click on the link below to view the reports

Municipal Forestry Reports (PDF-20 pages)

Public Engagement Strategy (pages 1 to 10)
Forest Review Strategy (pages 11 to 20)

Good news, it looks like the UBC Partnership will be an integral part of the forest review. On the agenda to be considered by Council: the carbon project, biodiversity, recreation, climate change, fire safety, and alternative harvesting methods.

Our concern is the time frame for public engagement. The proposed plan divides public engagement into 2 phases - an interim phase covering 2021, full engagement in 2022. What is being considered for 2020 is vague. We believe public engagement should come as soon as the research phase is complete and should not be put off.

2. Stoney Hill: stumps speak for themselves

Much has been said by both the Municipality and Where Do We Stand (WDWS) about the number of live trees taken to harvest the scattered blowdown on Stoney Hill, but the stumps speak for themselves.

WDWS stated, “Hundreds of live trees have just been logged on Stoney Hill” and “It’s not the removal of damaged timber only.’” The mayor responded in the Citizen with the adage about “a lie getting half way around the world before the truth gets its pants on.” He then wrote that the contractor estimates one live tree was cut for every 15 blowdown trees.

After the logging, we took a systematic look at the facts on the ground.

What we did: In two (of five) cut-blocks located in the interior of the forest, four of us attempted to count live trees compared with blowdown taken. We walked in two lines abreast, stopping at intervals, counting according to: obvious live trees taken—stumps rooted; obvious blowdown taken: roots above ground, or in a horizontal position; uncertain: stumps upended but difficult to determine if blowdown or moved from elsewhere.

It was sometimes difficult to distinguish between the categories because of the amount of debris and what appeared to be the relocation of stumps and debris—our methodology was not an exact science.

What we found : In one cut-block we counted 159 “live tree stumps,” 37 blowdown stumps, eight uncertain. Excluding the eight uncertain stumps, this equals approx. four live trees taken for each blowdown tree. In the other cut-block, we counted 165 “live tree stumps,” 80 blowdown stumps, four uncertain. Excluding the four uncertain stumps, equals approximately two live trees taken for each blowdown tree.

Everything is about context. Numbers are one thing on the page, another in a forest. Two live trees to one fallen or leaning may not sound enormous; in reality, it’s half the forest. In Stoney Hill, in both sites, the canopies were intact before the salvage; now they aren’t; sun pours into areas that were moist and are now drying out fast.

In retrospect, Dec. 20, nature and the wind did a little pruning. The weak fell, the strong remained. Logs were placed on the ground to break down into habitat and soil. Nature did what it does best — created long-term resilience. But I digress.

To return to the mayor’s “lie,” the facts are on the ground, exposed — no pants (or trees) on the stumps. As stated by WDWS, hundreds of live tree have been logged; the exact number is debatable. Time to count together.

As for the purpose of salvage/logging Stoney Hill, the question remains: Did we achieve the stated objective of decreasing fire risk and beetles? In many places there is more small flammable debris on the ground than before logging — to the eye it looks like a greater fire risk now. As for bugs — this is a whole other debate with evidence the public deserves access to.

The best that can be said, at this point, is we now have more lessons to learn from our logging practices. It’s time to come together as a community — as stated by council — in a transparent, open, inclusive, accountable public consultation about where we are headed before more fire/salvage/logging decisions are made. There was no consultation on the salvage. It has created confusion and mistrust. The debate about fire mitigation and salvage will be ongoing—time for all sides to be heard.

Next Council meeting, August 21, 1:30 pm, is at the Ramada Inn, Duncan. Staff will present its proposal regarding UBC’s participation, public consultation and the forestry review. At the last UBC presentation, the five UBC experts repeatedly stressed the importance of not moving forward without consultation.

Prof. Stephen Sheppard said public consultation and forest management is like a “choreography, a dance…that should be in sync.” 

Icel Dobell
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Professor Suzanne Simard of UBC, Canada’s world renowned forest scientist, will present her Mother Tree Project—discovery and proof of the fungal and root connections of trees—at the Magic Of The Six Mountains, October 2, in the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. Tickets on sale now.

Ecologists, biologists, and some foresters are talking about the consciousness of the forests, of interconnectedness between trees, the land and us. We are beginning to understand what Elders have been trying to warn us—we all need each other not only to survive but to thrive.

Enter Professor Suzanne Simard, forging a path through science. Millions of people have seen her Ted Talks (see How Trees Talk To Each Other). She is featured in the bestselling book, The Hidden Life of Trees, by German forester Peter Wohlleben. Suzanne will be presenting to our Valley with her great friend, Andy MacKinnon.

Andy, a retired Professional Forester, Biologist, and President of the S. Vancouver Island Mycological Society, has co-authored six best-selling books on native plants and fungi. The Ancient Forest Alliance calls him "The Rock Star of Botanists.” Many will remember him from the Secret Of The Six Mountains public meeting. Between them, Suzanne and Andy will tell the story of the communication, sharing, and interdependence of a forest.

Our community is about to engage in a formal process where we will decide how our municipal government will caretake the 5,000 hectare Community Forest. There is no municipally owned forest like it on the continent. It is an enormous responsibility.  

With Suzanne and Andy here to present and answer questions, we will have the opportunity to become more informed about forest ecology and hence better placed to make wise decisions about its well-being. On October 2, as a community, we will be able to probe the depths of our relationship with the forests, to move beyond the surface level of the forest debate begun last November.

We are still asking for pause of all logging until there is real public engagement about the future of the Community Forests. What this will be is still unfolding. The Magic Of The Six Mountains will be the time and place to reconnect and recommit as a public voice.  

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