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Posted July 24, 2018

Media Release: Ancient Forest Alliance Commends BC NDP Government for Expanding Protection for Coastal Douglas-Fir Ecosystem

Ancient Forest Alliance, July 23, 2018

Media Release: Ancient Forest Alliance Commends BC NDP Government for Expanding Protection for Coastal Douglas-Fir Ecosystem
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Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer TJ Watt stands among towering old-growth Douglas-fir trees in Metchosin.
Photo by TJ Watt

The Ancient Forest Alliance is thanking the BC NDP government, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson for protecting almost one thousand hectares of Coastal Douglas Fir (CDF) forests from logging on eastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

The 19 parcels of Crown lands totalling 980.5 hectares of second-growth forests (with scattered old-growth “veteran” trees in some areas) near Bowser, Qualicum, Nanoose Bay, Nanaimo, and Cedar, and on Galiano and Saltspring Islands, have been made off-limits to logging through an amended Land Use Order. These new additions have increased protection in the Coastal Douglas Fir zone to over 11,000 hectares in extent. The new protections expand upon a similar process in 2010 that resulted in the issuance of land use orders which protected 2,024 hectares of public lands on southeast Vancouver Island the Sunshine Coast.

“This is a good step forward for the protection of one of Canada's rarest ecosystems and we commend the BC NDP government for moving ahead with these protections. A thousand hectares of extremely endangered Coastal Douglas-Fir ecosystem - largely second-growth forests with some scattered old-growth ‘veteran’ trees - is highly valuable in terms of biodiversity conservation. About 50% of the ecosystem is already under pavement, farmland, or in heavily disturbed condition,” stated Andrea Inness, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner.

See the maps of the protected lands at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/natural-resource-use/land-water-use/crown-land/land-use-plans-and-objectives/westcoast-region/southisland-lu/southisland_cdfmm_luor_27jun2018amend_maps.pdf

See the BC government’s media release at: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018FLNR0178-001441

The protection order only targets Crown lands, as private lands must be purchased from willing sellers in order to be protected. The Coastal Douglas-Fir ecosystem is home to many species at risk and also has the best weather in Canada. Hence, most of Vancouver Island's cities are in this ecological zone (Victoria, Nanaimo, Duncan, etc.). Most of the Coastal Douglas-fir zone was privatized through the E&N Land Grant over a hundred years ago. As a result, only 20% of the CDF ecosystem lies on public (Crown) lands, while 80% is privately owned. Almost all of it is unceded First Nations Coast Salish territory.

“This is a second phase expansion of the initial 2010 protections for the ecosystem, which originally protected about 2,000 hectares. We’d still like to see a third phase expansion to protect more of these Crown lands and, in addition, we'd like to see the province implement a provincial land acquisition fund of at least $40 million/year to begin with – less than 1% of the provincial budget – to purchase and protect endangered ecosystems on private lands, which dominate most of the Coastal Douglas-Fir ecosystem, for new protected areas”, stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director.

More Background Info

The CDF zone encompasses about 260,000 hectares on southeast Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands south of Cortes Island, and a small area of the Sunshine Coast. About 50 percent of the entire ecosystem has been converted to human uses such as agriculture and urbanization. About one percent of the region’s original old-growth forest remains.

The Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem is the smallest of BC’s 16 major ecosystems or “biogeoclimatic zones.” It is also considered to be among the top four most endangered ecosystems in Canada, along with the Tallgrass Prairie in Manitoba, the Carolinian Forest in southern Ontario, and the “Pocket Desert“ near Osoyoos in southern BC. The ecosystem is characterized by its mild, Mediterranean-like climate; trees like the Douglas-fir, Garry oak, and arbutus; and large numbers of species at risk, such as the alligator lizard and sharp-tailed snake.

In order to establish an ecologically viable protected areas network in the Coastal Douglas Fir zone, the Ancient Forest Alliance advocates the protection of most Crown land parcels within the zone and the establishment of a joint provincial-federal parkland acquisition fund of at least $40 million/year ($20 million from each level of government) to purchase private lands for the establishment of new protected areas. The proposed fund would rise to an annual $100 million by 2024 through $10 million increases each year and would enable the timely purchase of significant tracts of endangered private lands of high conservation, scenic, and recreation value to add to BC’s parks and protected areas system.

Species at risk within the Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) zone include Garry oak trees, sharp-tailed snakes, alligator lizards, and Vancouver Island screech owl and pygmy owl subspecies.

“In an area where only nine percent of the land base is provincial Crown land, the purchase and protection of private land is critical if we want to avoid biodiversity loss in the long-term,” said Inness. “The protected area target set out for nations under the UN Convention of Biological Diversity is 17 percent. A land acquisition fund is a vital way to ensure enough large areas are protected to reach that 17 percent target in the Coastal Douglas-fir zone.”

The AFA is also encouraging the BC government to consider a third phase of land use order protections on additional Crown lands in the CDF zone to ensure this unique ecosystem is adequately conserved and can be enjoyed by BC residents and visitors for generations.
 


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