The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has invited the public to comment on additional old growth management area psroposals before February 18.

The ministry is proposing to establish old growth management areas along Toba and Jervis inlets near Powell River and on parts of the Sechelt peninsula.

  • The Homfray Landscape Unit (2,802 hectares) is 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) north and south sides of Salmon Inlet.

  • The Southgate Landscape Unit (3,212 Hectares) northeast of Bute Inlet and southwest of Chilko Lake.

Old growth management areas are meant to preserve the biodiversity in an area. The ministry stated that there are approximately 25 million hectares of old-growth forests with over four million hectares fully protected province wide - an area larger than Vancouver Island.

This sounds like a lot of area. However, when looking at the map of OGM's many of them are under 40 hectares. In Jervis Inlet only 19 of 155 areas are over 40 hectares while in Salmon Inlet there are 31 areas out of 122.

According to Ross Muirhead of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), “Forest conservation states that for an area to be retain its biodiversity (for example habitat needs of a large carnivore) that the minimum area is approximately 40 hectares. Many of the OGMAs listed are under that given size, so one has to question whether the OGMA objectives of securing biodiversity are being met. Under 40 hectares, then the 'edge affect' occurs from adjacent logging, and the area protected is then reduced further. “

The Ministry is mandated to set aside old growth management areas while also not affecting the timber supply which is set every five years. Muirhead says that is where it gets tricky because forest areas in between these OGMAs can be logged in the future leaving a highly fragmented landscape.

“From a forest conservation point-of-view its more advantageous to have large tracts of old-growth protected,” says Muirhead, ”with tree harvesting focused in other, less rich bio-diverse areas.” He notes that within the Salmon Inlet landscape unit 38% of the land base contains trees under 40 years of age. “This is a landscape heavily impacted by logging.”

Muirhead said ELF supports protection of all remaining old-growth across the Province and thus “while we support having any old-growth stand set aside, the OGMA program does not go far enough in preserving diminishing biodiversity in this current age of human induced species extinction.”

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, are available for review at ministry offices in Surrey (200-10428 153 St.), Campbell River (370 S. Dogwood St.) and Powell River (7077 Duncan St.) or online at: proposed objectives