History of the Municipal Forest Reserve
The Municipal Forest Reserve lands were acquired from non-payment of taxes during the 1930s and 40s. In 1946, the Council of the day set these areas aside and established the areas as a Municipal Forest Reserve. The lands remained un-managed until the 1960s when a consulting forester was hired to review the land and create a Forest Management Plan. The outcome of this plan was to divide the MFR into ten woodlots that were harvested by local operators by "diameter limit cutting," which permitted the logging of trees greater than a set diameter.
This management practice continued until 1981 when local concerns over the management and future of the forests initiated the creation of the Forestry Advisory Committee (FAC). The FAC members consisted of residents of the Municipality who had extensive experience in the management of forest resources on a voluntary basis. The FAC was asked by Council to review the past management plan and timber inventory to commence preparation of recommendations for the future management options and operational budgets for the MFR. In 1981, the FAC produced a report called “Management of the Forester Reserves – An Investment in the Future” that set out their forest management recommendations. The report was adopted by Council on December 2, 1981, who at that time, also approved the hiring of the first Forest Manager to implement the recommendations contained within the report which has guided the direction of forest management since.
The FAC continues to operate today and is made up of one (1) Council representative, one (1) Cowichan Tribes Representative, one (1) Halalt First Nations Representative, three (3) Professional Foresters, one (1) Registered Professional Biologist, one (1) members at large member at large representing the Cowichan Trails Stewards Society and two (2) other members at large who are residents of the Municipality selected based on their specific knowledge or interest in forestry matters. The FAC Membership List and Terms of Reference can be found here.
Over the last thirty years, intensive forest management has been taking place to maintain healthy and sustainable forests. Current logging practices consist of patch cuts with green tree retention, with all harvested areas replanted at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Municipal Forest Reserve consists of six major landholdings: Mount Prevost, Mount Sicker, Mt. Tzouhalem, Stoney Hill, Mount Richards, and Maple Mountain. This working forest is managed for multiple uses, including harvesting of forest resources for revenues, recreation, forest education, domestic water supply, visual landscape, and economic development.
The Municipal 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