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Forestry agency has no guidance on conflict over Douglas fir stand

Darrell Bellaart, Nanaimo Daily News, June 22, 2010

Forestry agency has no guidance on conflict over Douglas fir stand
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A view of the Nanoose Bay forest lot DL33 with large Douglas fir
Photo by TJ Watt

Note: Here is a recent news article about the Nanoose Bay Forest, followed by the media release from the Forest Practices Board, that notes that the province must do more to protect the highly endangered Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem, yet does not prescribe further action. The AFA does not believe that any old-growth forests within the Coastal Douglas Fir zone on Crown or private lands should be allocated for logging - only 1% of the original old-growth remains in the Coastal Douglas Fir zone.

-Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance

The provincial forestry watchdog agency agrees the province should allow a mature coastal Douglas fir forest in Nanoose to be logged, but stops short of saying how it can be done.

The Forest Practices Board investigated a complaint against the B.C. Forests Ministry for issuing a woodlot licence for District Lot 33, a 64-hectare property containing rare coastal Douglas fir forest in Nanoose Bay.

Two years ago, the province granted a woodlot licence to the Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose) First Nation to log DL 33. The band's five-year licence allows up to 15,000 cubic metres of timber to be cut on roughly a third of the property. Logging is expected to start this summer.

In its complaint, the Arrowsmith Parks and Land Use Council said the woodlot licence conflicts with a provincial obligation to protect 1,600 hectares of Crown land to preserve rare Douglas fir forests.

The Forest Practices Board said while it agrees, there may be too little Crown land and too many competing interests to meet that obligation.

"Sometimes the best we can do is lay the facts out as objectively as possible and report on that," said Al Gorley, board chairman.

Kathy McMaster led a petition to stop the logging and says she is disappointed the board didn't offer any solutions to protect the property.

"The report is critical of the government, quite rightly, but it doesn't make any recommendations for changing this. It says there isn't enough land for government to do what it wants to do and it's too bad."

The Snaw-naw-as needs the timber for economic development. Its next step is to get final approval for its cutting permit. No word was available when that is expected to happen.



Forest Practices Board News Release, 18 June 2010:

Co-operation Key to Survival of Coastal Forest Ecosystem

VICTORIA – An investigation report released today upholds a public complaint about proposed logging in a rare forest type near Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island.

Local residents filed a complaint with the board when they discovered about one-third of the 64-hectare parcel of coastal Douglas fir forest, known as DL 33, was slated to be logged, contrary to provincial government promises.

"In order to meet an Interim Measures Agreement with the Nanoose First Nation, the Province did not abide by its commitment to defer issuing new forest tenures until its stewardship strategy was in place,” said board chair Al Gorley.

As part of its stewardship strategy for the coastal Douglas fir (CDF) ecosystem, the Province identified 1,600 hectares of Crown]owned forest for potential protection. However, the Ministry of Forests and Range issued the tenure for DL 33 before the proposed protection order was approved, on the basis that it did not include DL 33. The ministry has not yet issued a permit to begin logging.

“Taken in isolation, DL 33 is important, but is not the real issue,” said Gorley. “It is a symptom of a problem that has been more than 100 years in the making. Given the large proportion of CDF on private land, and competing interests and priorities on provincial land, there may be little the Province can do on its own to ensure long-term viability of this ecosystem.”

The Province controls just 23,500 hectares (about nine percent) of the remaining CDF forests, and has protected 7,600 hectares to date. The proposed order would protect another 1,600 hectares. The board’s report notes that the stewards of private, federal and local government lands will have to participate further in conservation if greater viability of the ecosystem is desired.

This is the board’s third complaint investigation involving management of the CDF by the Province. In 2005, the board recommended a conservation protocol be developed before any further logging of CDF on Crown land. Then, in 2007, the board recommended the Province finalize a stewardship strategy for management of this ecosystem.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board is required to investigate public complaints about forest planning and practices.

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