COMMITMENT TO CONSERVATION AND ECOSYSTEM-BASED FOREST USE
Renewal Land Company is committed to conservation and the principles of ecosystem-based forest use, as described by the Silva Forest Foundation:
• FIRST PRIORITY: protect and maintain fully functioning forests at all scales through time.
• SECOND PRIORITY: provide fair, protected landbases, for all forest users, both human and non-human, across the landscape.
RLC is striving to incorporate these principles, as well as principles of sustainability and Smart Growth, wherever possible into our conservation project on Cortes Island.
The purpose of this document is to clearly articulate RLC's commitments to conservation, ecosystem-based forest management and support of a local, forest-based economy.
Renewal's goals are to:
• Conserve biodiversity and forest ecosystems;
• Demonstrate an ecologically-based approach to forestry and land development on private forest lands;
• Set a precedent for the incorporation of community ideals and ecological stewardship into future development projects;
• Create an opportunity for the Cortes community to influence the nature of growth on the island; and,
• Demonstrate the potential to integrate ecological protection, integrated land use and public participation into a private venture.
RLC's commitments are modeled on both the ecosystem-based approach to forest use developed by the Silva Forest Foundation and the sustainable forestry conservation covenants (and associated stewardship regime) developed by ECO Initiatives Inc., the Trust For Sustainable Forestry and The Land Conservancy of BC. Since Silva's ecosystem-based approach is typically adopted across a much larger scale of land (e.g. the ecosystem-based plan developed for Cortes Island) RLC has modified the approach recommended by Silva to reflect the context of properties ranging in size from 4 to 98 hectares. RLC has also incorporated ecological principles from organizations such as ECO Initiatives Inc., the Trust for Sustainable Forestry, Wildwood, and The Land Conservancy of BC.
The description below does not address commitments made with respect to residential use; those are described elsewhere.
This is a living document. Renewal will continue to make every effort to incorporate principles of ecosystem-based forest management and sustainability into our projects. We look forward to additional feedback about how we can build on these commitments and RLC's achievements to date.
RLC's goal is to protect biodiversity and forest ecosystems, while preserving the long-term sustainable forestry potential on these lands. To help achieve this, RLC is committed to the following elements of ecosystem-based management:
ESTABLISH LARGE PROTECTED RESERVES
Large protected areas typically constitute entire drainage basins or watersheds. Given the size of RLC's properties it is not possible to establish protected areas of this nature. However, in keeping with the notion that ecosystem-based management occurs at multiple scales, and recognizing the importance of relatively large protected areas, RLC has made the following commitments with respect to large protected areas:
• A 13 hectare Public Park has been established near the Manson's area as part of our Siskin Lane Conservation Project. In the larger context of southern Cortes Island, this park forms part of a network of protected areas, including Smelt Bay Provincial Park, Kw'as Regional Park and Manson's Landing Provincial Park. No timber harvesting or other development is permitted in the park area, which is protected by a conservation covenant that the Land Conservancy of BC holds. RLC hopes that over time, as the Manson's Landing core develops, this permanently protected area will provide both a basis and an impetus for the future development of additional green space and trail systems on adjacent properties and throughout the Manson's Landing area.
• A 32-hectare property near Anvil Lake has been permanently protected with conservation covenants that prohibit any development or timber harvesting on 90% of the property. This property has several old-growth trees on it, and its protection will promote the gradual restoration of old-growth ecosystems on a larger scale.
• A 14-hectare property off Lagoon Road has been permanently protected with conservation covenants that prohibit any development or timber harvesting on 80% of the property.
• 16 hectares of forestland on the Gorge West property has been designated as a Forest Conservation Area where no timber harvesting or development will be permitted. This area includes old-growth trees, sensitive areas and riparian ecosystems, and is permanently protected through a conservation covenant.
ESTABLISH PROTECTED LANDSCAPE NETWORKS
RLC is committed to contributing to the establishment of a protected landscape network on Cortes Island. A protected landscape network ensures that forest ecosystems are maintained outside of large protected reserves (i.e. biodiversity and forest ecosystems within the "matrix" are protected). Protected landscape networks in RLC's projects include:
RIPARIAN ECOSYSTEMS: all riparian ecosystems, including streams and wetlands, are protected with minimum 15 metre reserves.
SENSITIVE ECOSYSTEMS: all sensitive ecosystems, such as areas with shallow or rocky soils, have been protected with either restrictions on timber harvesting or, in certain cases, minimum 15 metre buffers, whichever is most appropriate ecologically.
CONNECTIVITY CORRIDORS: Corridors have been maintained across the landscape.
• On the Siskin Lane property, a north-south linkage has been maintained within Park and Forest Conservation Area from Cemetery Road to Sutil Point Road. This linkage connects in some areas with the linkages identified in the Ecosystem-Based Plan for Cortes. East-west movement is also possible through the Forest Conservation Area and Park, connecting in places with adjacent private forest land, Treedom to the east and the Paukeanum Reserve to the west. For future conservation planning RLC hopes that the corridors maintained within Siskin Lane will connect with protected corridors on adjacent properties, including the Bartholomew Road and Hanks Beach properties to the east and the Paukeanum Reserve to the west.
• On the Gorge West property the Forest Conservation Area will also contribute to an east-west linkage, as shown on the Ecosystem-Based Plan for Cortes.
• RLC is committed to working with CES and the Cortes community to encourage other large landowners to protect wildlife and connectivity corridors on all of their lands.
ESTABLISH FOREST USE ZONES WHERE APPROPRIATE
RLC has identified Forest Conservation Areas where ecosystem-based timber harvesting may sometimes take place according to strict rules set out in the conservation covenant (note that this is not the case for the Gorge West property, where no timber harvesting is permitted within the Forest Conservation Area). RLC is committed to ecologically-based timber harvesting that is grounded in ecology and promotes high standards of forest stewardship.
• The conservation covenants require that an ecosystem-based forest management plan be approved by the covenant holder, at least every five years. The management plan must be prepared by people with experience in ecology and eco-forestry and incorporate local knowledge.
• The ecosystem-based forest management plan must incorporate practices that ensure the maintenance of continuous forest cover, the restoration of old-growth forest attributes, and take into account both the condition and character of the land, including previous timber harvesting.
• As noted in the Official Community Plan policies for properties zoned Forest Land Stewardship (see below), private forest holders will be encouraged to actively consult with the residents of Cortes Island from the early stage in the development of their forest management plans, and regarding the implementation of forest management plans.
PROTECT OLDER TREES
• Individual old growth trees in the Forest Conservation Areas are protected under the conservation covenants. This will contribute to the protection of biodiversity, as older-mature and old-growth trees are relatively rare on Cortes Island and have a unique and valuable role in providing habitat, structural diversity and old-growth attributes.
• Where timber harvesting is permitted, it is limited to selection harvesting. Provisions in the conservation covenants also prohibit "high-grading" and ensure that harvesting is representative of the specie and age class distribution of the stand.
• The use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or other chemical treatments is prohibited.
• Conservation covenants on all RLC properties protect forest ecosystems, govern forest practices and prohibit future subdivision.
• RLC is pleased to support the Living Green guide, published by the Friends of Cortes Island.
• RLC is committed to promoting public access, as appropriate, on suitable private lands. Public access and recreation will be encouraged through two mechanisms:
• (1) RLC has established an extensive network of public trails, managed through a statutory right-of-way agreement with the Comox-Strathcona Regional District. RLC hopes that the establishment of this public trail network will act as a catalyst to encourage other private landowners, as appropriate, to allow public access to existing trails on their lands.
• (2) RLC has also donated a Regional Park as part of the Siskin Lane project.
CORTES OCP DRAFT POLICIES RELATING TO FOREST MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION UNDER FOREST LAND STEWARDSHIP
Renewal Land Company is committed to all of the following policies. These policies, which relate to the Forest Land Stewardship zone, were developed by the Regional District to reflect commitments made in our 2004 rezoning application.
FOREST CONSERVATION AREA:
POLICY 1: Forest conservation areas, amenities or environmentally sensitive areas shall be protected through conservation covenants that should run with the land in perpetuity.
POLICY 2: Innovative and sustainable forestry practices that protect biological diversity and forest ecosystems are encouraged.
POLICY 3: Forestry uses shall be practiced so that they conserve greenways, trails, parks, environmentally sensitive areas and residential areas and minimize scenic and vegetation disturbances.
POLICY 4: Forest management plans shall utilize and promote environmentally sound logging and avoid clear cutting of the land.
POLICY 5: Private forest holders are encouraged to actively consult with the residents of Cortes Island from the early stage in the development of their forest management plans, and regarding the implementation of forest management plans.