The public and stakeholders were invited to provide feedback on the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations proposal to establish more than 18,000 hectares of old-growth management areas (OGMAs) along the Sunshine Coast.
Old-growth management areas help protect the biological diversity of old-growth forests by ensuring that stands of trees from different ecosystem types are protected. These areas are excluded from commercial timber harvesting, which helps preserve plant ecosystems, wildlife habitat and cultural values.
In 2013, the ministry proposed establishing OGMAs along Toba and Jervis inlets near Powell River and on parts of the Sechelt peninsula. Specifically suggesting OGMAs within the following landscape units:
- The Homfray Landscape Unit (2,802 hectares) on the east side of Homfray Channel and the southeast side
of Toba Inlet;
- The Jervis Landscape Unit (4,479 hectares) on the east and north sides of Jervis Inlet;
- The Quatam Landscape Unit (2,971 hectares) on the north side of Pryce Channel and east side of Toba Inlet;
- The Salmon Inlet Landscape Unit (4,434 hectares) on the north and south sides of Salmon Inlet; and
- The Southgate Landscape Unit (3,212 Hectares) northeast of Bute Inlet and southwest of Chilko Lake.
The creation of additional old-growth management areas on the Sunshine Coast reflects the Province’s ongoing commitment to preserve unique ecosystems for the enjoyment of all British Columbians. In July 2012, an additional 14,750 hectares was added to old growth management areas in the Brittain, Bute West, Bute East, Cortes and Howe landscape units of the Sunshine Coast.
Establishing old-growth management areas also provides important benefits to ecosystem management and protection of water quality. Province-wide, there are approximately 25 million hectares of old-growth forests with over four million hectares fully protected – an area larger than Vancouver Island.
Old-growth management areas are established by a Land Use Objectives Orders under the Land Act. Copies of the proposed Land Use Objectives Order, background reports and maps showing the location and boundaries of the landscape units and proposed old growth management areas, were available for review online and at ministry offices in Surrey, Campbell River and Powell River.
Advertising was placed in the following publications: BC Gazette (December 24, 2013), Campbell River Mirror (December 20, 2013), Powell River Peak (December 20, 2013), Sechelt Reporter (December 20, 2013). The public consultation period was set for December 20, 2013 to February 18, 2014.
December 20, 2013 to February 18, 2014. This period was extended until March 20, 2014 at the request of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association. Copies of the Order, Landscape Unit Plans and maps were made available on the internet as well as paper copies at the MFLNRO offices at Powell River and Campbell River. At the request of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, paper copies were also made available at the BC Parks office in Sechelt.
One member of the general public wrote a letter in support of OGMA establishment. A number of organizations submitted questions and comments, such as the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the Ancient Forest Alliance, the Truck Loggers Association, the Discovery Islands Ecosystem Advocacy, and the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, each with a constituency of members representing a broad range of stakeholder interests.
Input leads to action:
A number of letters in response to the comments were issues by government, providing further explanation and context to the comment writers. No changes to the OGMAs occurred as a result of this consultation.
More detail can be found in Appendix 2 – Public Consultation Summary for each of the plans:
- Homfray Landscape Unit Plan
- Jervis Landscape Unit Plan
- Quatam Landscape Unit Plan
- Salmon Landscape Unit Plan
- Southgate Landscape Unit Plan
In February 2015, the Province announced that it was establishing 567 old-growth management areas within five Landscape Units of the Sunshine Coast Natural Resource District, covering 18,421 hectares. The process to set the boundaries of these areas began in 2010, in accordance with the Land Act, the Forest and Range Practices Act, and the Land Use Objectives Regulation. It relied on input from natural resource professionals and forest tenure holders, as well as a consultation process with affected First Nations that began in November 2013.
Further information on specific plans and associated legal directions can be found here.