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Municipal Forestry Program
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. The Municipal Forest Reserve (MFR) consists of approximately 5,000ha of fee simple, private land owned by the Municipality and managed by the Forestry Department. The annual allowable cut is currently 20,000 m³/ year. The Forestry Program is self-funded, with no costs to the taxpayers of North Cowichan.
The Forestry Department is responsible for all aspects of this land including: forest planning, harvesting, timber marketing, silviculture activities, maintaining road systems, fire protection, managing for viewscapes, water, forestry education, jobs and generating a profit for the Municipality. Funds generated from the land base cover the associated expenses of managing forest activities, including community supports such as high school scholarships, high school woodworking contests, and firewood donations.
"To maintain and enhance North Cowichan's valuable municipal forest resources for all users through sustainable forestry, ecological stewardship, & sound fiscal management"
Municipal Forest Reserve - Forestry Information
Would you like to know more about the Municipal Forestry Reserve? Visit our interactive forest map to learn where the reserve is located, the types and ages of trees you will find in the forest, recreational trail locations, the wide variety of sensitive ecosystems the forest supports, and past forestry activity.
The mandate for funding the Forestry Program, as stipulated by Council in 1981, is as follows:
Forestry management expenditures and operational costs will be financed entirely through the cumulative revenues generated by sales of the forest resources.
The Forest Reserve operates as a market logger – when markets are up, the goal is to harvest the full AAC and when prices drop, and the cut level is reduced. To account for any future variability and to follow the council mandate to be self-supporting, a Forest Reserve Fund was established to support Forestry Operations when markets were poor. The Forest Reserve also is set up to develop, maintain and expand the Municipal Forest reserve; fight forest fires; replace forestry department vehicles and equipment; grant scholarships and bursaries; and aid in capital projects.
Profits from the Forestry Program support the operational costs but they also allow the Municipality to give back to the community in a wide variety of ways. The Forestry Program contributes to our community through:
- Providing an annual scholarship of $1,200 and two annual bursaries of $600 to high-school graduates within the Municipality
- Annually donating three logging truckloads of firewood to youth-oriented groups in the Cowichan and Chemainus Valleys (approximate value = $3000).
- Sponsoring a value-added wood-working contest in secondary schools and providing $1,000 in prizes
- Aiding with capital projects such as the Chemainus Museum renovation, Mount Tzouhalem parking lot expansion and Maple Mountain washroom.
- Delivering education for public, private, and post-secondary schools on forest management and the Community Forest, led by staff in the Forestry Program.
- Of the profits, 30% are allocated to general revenue which contributes towards reducing taxes for the residents of North Cowichan.
Forestry Review and Community Interest
In winter 2018, North Cowichan began hearing from residents interested in the Municipality's forestry activities. Council struck an expanded Forest Advisory Committee and tasked it with undertaking a review of North Cowichan's forestry operations. Because of community interest, Council also decided that in 2019, it will only harvest the remaining 2018 contract obligations and timber blown-down in the December 2018 windstorm. This page has been set up to track Council decisions and information about the forestry review and engagement process.