Protecting the Coastal Douglas-Fir Zone and Its Associated Ecosystems Benefits Us All

Every single one of us who lives, visits, works and plays on Salt Spring Island depends on the health of our island ecosystems, and the health of these ecosystems depends on all of us. That’s why the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (LTC) has implemented a proactive planning project called “Protecting the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone and Associated Ecosystems.” You are invited to an online community information meeting on Thursday November 5th at 6:30 PM to learn more about this planning project. The meeting will mark the beginning of an extensive community engagement process about how best to maintain the health and rich diversity of the island’s precious forest ecosystems for the benefit of all of us.

At this meeting we will learn about the Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) zone and its associated ecosystems and why it is important to protect them. The Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) zone, which is one of the rarest forest types in B.C., encompasses a unique set of ecosystems found only in a small part of southeastern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and a narrow strip of the lower mainland. Unfortunately, the science geeks who named this bio-geoclimatic zone, opted for “Coastal Douglas-Fir” instead of “The cool combination of rock outcrops and Garry oak savannas, wetlands and Western red cedar, Douglas-fir, estuaries, and lots of other unique communities of plant, animal, and fungi found nowhere else in the world.” They also could have noted that people from across Canada and the world come to see this cool combination of ecosystems.

Protecting these ecosystems goes far beyond merely protecting them for their own sake. They provide our island community not only with environmental benefits, but also with strong economic, social and cultural ones. Everything we love about this island is fundamentally linked to the CDF zone. These natural landscapes sustain our local farmers by providing fodder for their animals, and the soil and water to support apple orchards and all of the abundant, healthy, locally grown food that we value so much. These ecosystems are also a cultural and spiritual refuge for us as we enjoy their moss-covered rock vistas, our favourite swimming spots, stunning hiking trails, streams and tidal pools. It is now scientifically proven that connecting with nature has the power to counter illness, boost our immune systems, and promote well-being. Finally, healthy and resilient forest ecosystems remove carbon dioxide from the air and store carbon, all while buffering against strong winds and preventing erosion of our shorelines and steep slopes.

Our island economy depends on both a healthy community and a healthy environment -- these things are totally intertwined and cannot logically be separated into silos. We need to come together as an island and create a shared vision to plan and protect, and to sustainably manage and restore our precious natural heritage. We can and must enhance biodiversity and our community well-being at the same time. Any policies or regulations that may arise from this planning project need clear goals and objectives, and transparent performance measures, and must be adaptive. We need to hear what you value most about our island landscape and how these values support you, your friends and family, your quality of life, your business, and our community.

This planning project is an important opportunity for the Islands Trust and our island communities to come together and form partnerships to seek solutions to enhance and enrich our island communities. Perhaps the idea of ecosystem-based management (as progressively legislated in BC but not yet applied in the Islands Trust) can be explored and applied? “Ecosystem-Based management is an environmental management approach that recognizes the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including humans, rather than considering single issues, species, or ecosystem services in isolation” (source: coastfunds.ca).

Please join us on November 5 at 6:30 PM - you can get information on how to join the meeting using this link. Guest speakers Kate Emmings and Jemma Green, Island Trust Conservancy, will present information about the CDF zone followed by a Town Hall where you can ask questions about this project to the LTC, staff and our guests.

November 4, 2020 4:18 PM

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