This Fact Sheet [PDF - 198 KB] provides a printable summary about management and benefits of North Cowichan's Municipal Forest Reserve.
Forestry Program Mission Statement
"To maintain and enhance North Cowichan's valuable municipal forest resources for all users through sustainable forestry, ecological stewardship, & sound fiscal management"
The Municipality of North Cowichan is one of the few communities in North America that has privately owned forest lands that are managed for the benefit of residents. This is called the Municipal Forest Reserve, and through it, North Cowichan owns 5,000 ha of lands, which make up 25% of the total land area of North Cowichan. Another 25% of the Municipality falls within the Agriculture Land Reserve, making half of our community unavailable for development. This combination of forestry and agricultural lands gives North Cowichan a sizeable amount of green space and adds to our quality of life.
History of the Municipal Forest Reserve
The Municipality established its Community Forest in 1946. These lands remained un-managed until the 1960s when holdings were divided into ten woodlots. These woodlots were harvested by local operators by "diameter limit cutting," which permitted the logging of trees greater than a set diameter. This management of the Forest Reserve continued until 1981, when the Municipality established a Forestry Department overseen by the Forestry Advisory Committee (FAC). The FAC continues to operate today, and is made up of three elected officials, three appointed volunteer foresters, and three Municipal staff. In the last twenty years, the land base has been managed intensively. Current logging practices are now patch-cut with green tree retention, and all harvested areas are planted. These new crops of third growth trees are juvenile spaced and pruned to ensure a future higher value for the tax payers of North Cowichan.
Our community forest consists of six major land holdings: Mount Prevost, Mount Sicker, Mt. Tzouhalem, Stony Hill, Mount Richards, and Maple Mountain. This working forest is managed for multiple uses, including harvesting of forest crops for revenues, recreation, forest education, domestic water supply, visual landscape, and economic development. The land base is managed to the intent of the Forest Practices Code, with audits of our operation.
Our Community Forest has a secure land base, access to local labour, transportation, and sawmills. The Forestry program is flexible and managed on a long-term, sustainable basis. It has funded the purchase of 14 hectares of new lands in 1995, and 11 hectares in 1999 near Chemainus Lake. It is self-funded with no costs to the taxpayers of North Cowichan.
Specific areas in the Municipal Forest Reserve have been set aside as ecological reserves and viewpoints. These include:
Mt. Prevost Cairn and Wildflower Reserve
- Mt. Tzouhalem Ecological Wildflower Reserve
- Maple Mountain Preservation Management Zone