A retired forester presented the CVRD board with some key findings from a study concerning four watersheds in the Fanny Bay area.
The Beaufort Watershed Stewards 2021 Hydrological Health Report Card reveals potential issues with watershed health, specific to the elevated risk of high peak flows in associated creeks.
It also illustrates that forest land ownership matters, specifically in terms of the rate of harvest.
“There’s one term that I would love every board member to take away from this meeting, and it’s Equivalent Clearcut Area (ECA),” Dave Weaver, vice-president of the Beaufort Watershed Stewards, said in a Dec. 7 presentation.
ECA is a snap shot in time of the percentage of watershed area still in a hydrological clearcut state.
The volunteer project was spurred by a Forest Practices Board report that found sediment from forest harvesting roads increased the risk to fish survival. It recommended an ECA percentage review.
The Beaufort Stewards need local governments to advocate for change to address the rate of harvest.
“The initial work of the Beaufort Watershed Stewards shows that perhaps the province should be brave and overhaul the Private Managed Forest Land Act,” Area A director Daniel Arbour said. “Large companies such as Mosaic should also consider pursuing a more robust certification such as Forest Stewardship Council, or at minimum the owners of the company, BC Investment Corporation and BC Public Pension Fund, should ask tougher questions about their company’s impact on Vancouver Island watersheds.”
Area C director Edwin Grieve “sees a ray of hope here,” and concurs the Private Forest Act needs to be looked at.
“The old ways don’t work any more,” Grieve said. “We know what we’re facing here. It’s a big cultural shift — you’re dealing with people’s attitudes.”
Board chair Jesse Ketler said she and the local mayors were shocked to see the extent of logging in the region during a helicopter ride in the summer.
“We are doing a lot of advocacy,” Ketler said, noting the CVRD has engaged in many meetings with various provincial ministries. “It is within our sphere of awareness and we are working on it. Through the Village of Cumberland, we’ve put in multiple submissions about the Private Managed Forest Land Act as well.”