The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations drafted a land use order to establish more than 23,000 hectares of old growth management areas in Chilliwack Forest District.
Old Growth Management Areas (OGMAs) protect the biological diversity of old growth forests. The ministry proposed establish OGMAs in the following landscape units:
- Alouette (2,415 hectares);
- Fraser Valley South (1,479 hectares);
- Hatzic (5,272 hectares), Pitt (5,569 hectares);
- Stave (5,072 hectares); and
- Widgeon (4,003 hectares).
Protecting biodiversity and key resource values reflects the Province’s policy of managing land use and resource development responsibly. Establishing OGMAs also provides important benefits to ecosystem management and protection of water quality. Province-wide, there are approximately 25 million hectares of old growth forests.
Under the Land Use Objective Regulation, stakeholders and the public are given the opportunity to comment on all proposed non-urgent Land Use Objectives. By commenting, citizens help to protect the biodiversity of British Columbia’s old growth forests.
September 5 to November 5, 2012
Over 1000 emails or letters were received during and subsequent to the advertised consultation period noted above.
Input leads to action:
As a result of this consultation, an additional 23,810 hectares of Old Growth Management Areas are now protected in the Chilliwack District.
These OGMAs were established under the Land Act, following a two-month public consultation process and discussions with First Nations, forestry companies, local stakeholders and forest and biology professionals. All comments received during the comment period were considered when developing these OGMAs.
Based on comments submitted during the consultation process, refinements were made to specific OGMAs, including an area near Echo Lake. An additional 4.8 hectares were added to the draft Old Growth Management Area to help protect wildlife habitat, including eagle roosting and nesting areas. One resident, representing a small rural community, near Dewdney requested that one polygon within the Hatzic LU be changed to reflect recreation and visual values. A meeting was held with the resident and their request was successfully addressed by adjusting a draft polygon in the plan to protect old growth and recreation/visual values. The Province is also considering the establishment of a wildlife management area in the region.
The new OGMAs protect biological diversity in the following areas:
- Alouette Landscape Unit (2,415 hectares in the Alouette Lake area);
- Fraser Valley South Landscape Unit (1,479 hectares in the Fraser Valley);
- Hatzic Landscape Unit (5,283 hectares in the Norrish Creek and Stave Lake area);
- Pitt Landscape Unit (5,569 hectares in the upper Pitt River drainage area);
- Stave Landscape Unit (5,075 hectares in the upper Stave River drainage area); and
- Widgeon Landscape Unit (4,003 hectares in the Pitt Lake area).
In addition to biodiversity, Old Growth Management Areas may also protect cultural values. These ecosystems provide plant and animal habitats, are excluded from commercial timber harvesting and may, in addition, provide recreational opportunities.
There are about 55,000 OGMAs in B.C., covering an area of approximately 3.9 million hectares. About 37 per cent (1.5 million hectares) of Crown land in the South Coast Region is designated as park land, protected area or conservation area.
Although this process did not change policy or legislation, it did provide a good example and reminder on the importance of meaningful public/stakeholders input and engagement to support balanced durable resource management decisions. Learnings from this process have included enhancements to communication using government websites, creating communication factsheets on specific issues, and being open to creative solutions to accommodate multiple objectives and interests to the extent possible.