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General News · 18th April 2022
Max - FOCI

Hello Colin Koszman and Molly Hudson, representatives of Mosaic:

In the face of a climate emergency and the accelerating loss of biodiversity, the Friends of Cortes Island Society (FOCI) has serious concerns regarding Mosaic’s current plans to cut ecologically significant forests on Cortes. We would like to see Mosaic join the efforts of the Cortes community to create an alternative model for forestry that would sustain the environment and local communities over the long term, rather than spend our time and energy in opposition.

For over 25 years, FOCI has worked to monitor and preserve the health of local ecosystems and to provide environmental education programs. Our purposes include: identifying environmentally sensitive areas; monitoring wildlife; protecting their natural habitats; and promoting the protection of forests, lakes, streams and critical watersheds.

Estimates made by Mosaic for growth rates are too high and the plan calls for removing too much, too fast. We do not agree with Mosaic’s assertion that growth rates on Cortes Island may be “up to 10 cubic metres/hectare/year”. If there is research to support this figure, guide us to it. It is our understanding that foresters on Vancouver Island estimate the MAI is to be 4-6 cubic metres/hectare/year. Harvest rates of 20% of the MAI may allow our forests to grow older over time.  On a land base of 1,084 ha, this would be an annual harvest of about 1,000 m3, not the volume of 6,000-8,000 m3/year proposed by Mosaic. We support planning for the long-term rather than just for short-term gains.

In order to better evaluate Mosaic’s plans we request that you provide us with copies of additional information that has been compiled (as listed in the Zoom presentation on January 27, 2022) including:

Planning and Assessments:
Checklists and Environmental Values
Visual assessments
Old Growth
Riparian and Wetlands
Wildlife

The maps Mosaic has provided to date are not adequate for our assessment purposes. We would like GIS files outlining the boundaries of the current draft of cut blocks to allow us to see more accurately where they overlap with sensitive ecosystems and other important features that have been mapped. If draft lines are revised, please provide updated information.

In the January presentation, Mosaic stated their approach would include not harvesting any stands greater than 200 years old. Such stands are exceedingly rare on Cortes and this threshold is too high to capture the value of old stands. Most of the oldest remaining forests on Cortes would be cut if 200 years were used as the upper limit. Our oldest trees are key to maintaining healthy forests and supporting species at risk – they should be left standing.

Mosaic also stated in that presentation that they won’t harvest continuous areas of old forest greater than 1 ha in size. Mosaic’s definition of continuous old forest is vague. What age stands, as shown on existing forestry maps, will you leave? Will you leave trees that measure greater than a certain diameter? The promise to leave large individual trees standing if operationally feasible and safe is also vague and it would be possible to find that no tree meets these criteria. Please provide more specific information.

Water is the most important product of forests on small rocky islands such as Cortes. Since, as stated in your Zoom presentation, 80% of Cortes’ watersheds flow through Mosaic lands, harvesting is likely to impact water supplies. The forests you propose to cut create a sponge that retains water from winter rains, slowly releasing it to aquifers that are the source of water for many island residents. Although there are riparian standards that require retention on all fish streams and all non-fish streams, with buffers varying from 5m to 35m, this is not enough to protect important watersheds. Current standards do not incorporate the most recent climate change impacts such as extreme, unanticipated heat and precipitation events – these events have already been washing out redds in some Cortes systems. There are important fish streams on Cortes, and our smaller streams are important as well. Minimal buffers are not enough. Many of these important streams only flow on the surface in the winter, and through the summer the water is there underground, sheltered by forest soils and plants – keeping our island safe. The Delight Lake and Squirrel Cove proposed cuts contain important wetlands surrounded by sensitive ecosystems. Please provide more details on how Mosaic proposes to buffer wetlands in the proposed cut blocks.

Mosaic also states they have a Wildlife Management Program with landscape level habitat mapping, standards for individual species and long-term monitoring programs. FOCI would like to see any documents pertaining to these issues. Identifying and mapping wildlife corridors and planning sufficient buffers are critical.

Long-term planning should precede this short-term, three-year plan for cutting. Planning should include detailed mapping and delineate adequate buffers for sensitive and intact ecosystems, wetlands, and smaller streams. Analyses are needed for watershed impacts, nutrient cycling and depletion in our shallow soils, as well as surveying for Species at Risk.

FOCI would also like to see Mosaic’s climate risk assessments, including projections for decreased seedling survival and increased pressure from insects, diseases, and wildfire. Ecological risk assessments should include sensitive ecosystems and greenhouse gas emissions impacts.

We support the option for the community to buy Mosaic lands so that they can be managed in concert with other forests on Cortes. If carbon credits are sold in lieu of logging, it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t just focus on corporate profit, but results in an actual decrease of carbon emissions.

Let’s take the time to create a long-term plan for managing our forests as allies in the climate emergency, to keep us all safe. We invite you to join the Cortes community in this critical endeavor.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors
Friends of Cortes Island Society