Inner Workings of the Community Forest
By Kelly Kitsch, Registered Forest Technologist
Last Forestry Friday we explored the origins of how Mission acquired Tree Farm Licence #26. This week we look inside to see how it operates.
At 10,500 hectares, or about 26 times the size of Stanley Park, it takes a lot of planning to manage the economic, social and environmental values in the community forest.
Each year Mission is allowed to harvest our Annual Allowable Cut, or AAC. The Province sets the AAC every 10 years based on the total forest inventory minus areas that need to be protected like habitat for species at risk, riparian management areas, environmentally sensitive areas, old growth management areas and more.
Currently our AAR is 45,000 m3, or about 64 hectares of logging each year. This is about 0.6% of the land base.
The amount is set for sustainability, just like the name “Tree Farm” suggests. It’s set so that if one “farmed” or harvested 64 hectares each year from the very first year the TFL was established it would take 80 years to harvest all available hectares. Then, one could return to the first 64 hectares logged 80.
Mission’s Forestry Department isn’t taxpayer funded. It is set up to run under its own budget with revenues balanced against operating costs with the surplus passed to the Municipality in a Forestry Reserve account.The account is used to balance the Forestry operating budget if there’s a decline in markets, and surplus money is invested into community amenities and infrastructures based on Council priorities.
All activities within the community forest are regulated by the Province through the Forest and Range Practices Act. There are 11 values that must be managed: biodiversity, cultural heritage resources, fish and riparian areas, forage and plant communities, recreation, soils, timber, visual quality, water quality, wildlife and other resource values such as karst features.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources are responsible for approving the Forest Stewardship Plans, Cutting Permit and Road Permit applications and conducting inspections. The planning for forest development applications take months to prepare to carefully consider all environmental factors. This is why you may notice ribbons and markings on trees in the forest many years in advance of any forest management activities occurring.