Cowichan Environmental Groups collaborate on Sustaining Healthy Forests

October 17th, 2022

Written by Dr. Vic Neufeld

Sponsored by the Shawnigan Basin Society (SBS) and the BC Coalition Institute (BCCI), the first of three meetings about Sustaining Healthy Forests took place in the SBS meeting room in Shawnigan Lake on October 17th. Eighteen (18) participants from seven (7) regional environmental groups participated in a vigorous and productive discussion about shared challenges and opportunities for collaboration.

In addition to the SBS and the BCCI, the groups included the Cowichan Estuary Restoration & Conservation Association (CERCA), the Cowichan Land Trust, Wildwood Ecoforest, the Cowichan Valley Naturalist’s Society, and the Koksilah Watershed Working Group.

Building on a set of issues for discussion shared by the SBS in preparation for the meeting, several important opportunities for collaboration emerged from the dialogue, including:

• The importance of working with First Nations groups;

• The key challenge of engaging with the communities;

• Building upon available maps of ecologically sensitive areas in the local watersheds;

• The opportunity to acquire privately-owned small properties and other forest lands to facilitate eco-system health;

• The challenge of addressing the highly fragmented watersheds and related initiatives in the Cowichan Valley.

The participating groups recognized that they have a special opportunity to act collaboratively on shared concerns. A suggested example was to write letters as an environmental collaborative to relevant Ministries when issues arise, as an example, when Woodlot Management Plans come up for review.

Among the outcomes of the meeting was the launch of a public education outreach group, to be led by Kathy Code, Director of Communications at Wildwood Forest.

The discussion series on Sustaining Healthy Forests will continue with two further events featuring an Indigenous perspective (on November 29nd), and a Youth Perspective (on December 20th).

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