North Cowichan Tree Farm tour: learning about the planting, tending and harvest of timber crops on private forest land.

Photo: Darrell Frank hosting a tour of the North Cowichan Community Forest as part of a Managed Forest Council workshop (2011).

PFLA is an interactive grassroots organization that thrives on forest owner participation. We’re excited to extend a warm welcome to our newest members. This month, we shine our new member spotlight on the North Cowichan Community Forest.

The North Cowichan Community Forest is located on Vancouver Island, north of Duncan and south of Ladysmith, and includes about 5000 hectares of forested area.

The mission of the North Cowichan Community Forest is: “To maintain and enhance North Cowichan’s valuable municipal forest resources for all users through sustainable forestry, ecological stewardship and sound fiscal management.”

Established in 1946, the North Cowichan Community Forest remained un-managed until the 1960s when the land was divided into ten woodlots that were then harvested by local operators who used diameter limit cutting to harvest all the trees greater than a specific diameter.

The land continued to be managed this way until 1981 when the municipality established a forestry department overseen by a committee of three elected officials, six appointed volunteer foresters and three municipal staff.

Today, the North Cowichan Community Forest includes six major land holdings: Mount Prevost, Mount Sicker, Mt. Tzouhalem, Stoney Hill, Mount Richards and Maple Mountain.

Over the last thirty four years, the land base has been managed intensively. Logging practices are now patch cut with green tree retention and all harvested areas are replanted. The new crops of third growth trees are juvenile spaced and pruned to ensure future higher value.

The working forest is managed for multiple uses, including: harvesting of forest crops, recreational uses, forest education, domestic water supplies, visual landscape, economic development and revenue source.

The North Cowichan Community Forest has a secure land base, access to local labour, transportation, and sawmills. The forestry program is flexible, managed on a long-term, sustainable basis and is self-funded with no costs to the taxpayers of North Cowichan.

Revenue from the forestry program also funded the purchase of 35 acres of new lands in 1995 and 26 acres in 1999 near Chemainus Lake.

A warm PFLA welcome to all our new members. And a big PFLA thanks to North Cowichan Community Forest for being in the “New Member Spotlight” this month.

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a member, please visit the PFLA website or contact us directly.