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General News · 11th September 2022
Mark Braaten
Founding members of Cortes Ecoforestry Society and other Cortes environmentalists worked for 20 years as volunteers towards a community forest on Cortes including fundraising for a complete Ecosystem Based Management planning process (EBM). They did this because they believed that a Community Forest tenure gave us the best chance of protecting Cortes forests and ecosystems through management and not only conservation efforts.

Ours is one out of about 100 Community forests in BC and we are one of the very few that actively practice Ecosystem Based Managment.

EBM considers the entire ecosystem. The most valuable and important areas are netted out first, means these areas will never be harvested and are not considered part of the Timber Harvest Landbase.

Approx 1/3rd of our community forest tenure area has been removed from the THL. These include Old growth Management Areas where denser stands of old growth trees are established. OGMAs are no longer part of the THL.

Individual old growth trees within the Remaining THL are also set aside.

Harvest prescriptions include rehabilitation and partial retention (selective loggong) in the THL. Industry standards such as setbacks from wetlands in the THL are exceeded. Our management team and staff all love cortes forests and constantly strive to be as carefull and inovative as possible.

Ministry established an Annual Allowable Cut of 14000m3/yr in our THL and we have averaged approx 15% of that. We belive this rate of harvest can occur in perpetuity while the ecosystems actually improve in health.

We have sponsored studies that indicate that the biomass within the THL will increase over time with this rate of harvest. We estimate it will take about 250 years to rotate through the entire THL meaning the entire island will resemble old growth forest over time. Currently the oldest 2nd growth trees on Cortes are 150years old.

We were eventually awarded the Community Forest tenure when we were invited by the Klahoose First Nation to partner with them. Support for First Nation's forest manahment within thier traditional territories is a strong part of the provincial Community Forest program objectives. Klahoose has so far supported by consensus all the good values I have listed.

Without broad community support and continued partnership with Klahoose we may compromise our tenure. The likely alternative to the tenure being held by our partnership would be a tenure held by Klahoose alone, in which case the non aboriginal community represented by the Cortes Community Forest COOP, (CCFC) of which I have been a board member for 5 years would no longer have any management authority.

The CCFC elects 3 reps to the partnership. CCFC reps together with the 3 Klahoose Reps decided by consensus to proceed with the road building in the Anvil Lake operating area of the THL.
Consensus may not meet everyone's ideals. There are so many diverse factors to consider. The volunteer representives elected by CCFC membership are doing thier best to bring the communities values to the consensus table

Plans for the Anvil Lake area will be made over a longer time line of decades and we hope centuries. Community consultation will be ongoing. Building a road into the area is a first step. With the Anvil Lake watershed already removed from the THL and the few Old Growth trees in the remaining THL protected, there is relatively little valuable timber in the area The longterm aim is largely rehabilitation of diseased hemlock and reduction of wildfire risk.
Roads give access to fight wildfires if they occur. Without a road little can be done. This area was identified as a key part of island wide wildfire management.

I hope these points contribute to a better understand the situation.

The way I see it we are succeeding in setting an excellent example here. Many experienced forestry professionals have expressed the same. Please lend your morale support to our community forest partnership.