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 What is a Living Forest Community?
   Where will it work best?
   Why is the Living Forest Communities model important for regional and municipal     governments to consider?
   How do we work with municipalities, regional districts and community members     to implement this approach?

 ]

Why is the Living Forest Communities model important for regional and municipal governments to consider?

Sustainable Development includes environmental protection, economic development and social development.

Environmental Protection

Global Scale

This is simply the right thing to do. Global Climate Change is no longer a threat; it is a reality. Community and land planning decisions that are made now must address current and future climate conditions and local resource supplies.

Worldwide deforestation contributes to 25% of global annual carbon dioxide (CO2) release. CO2 is released when trees are either decaying or being burned. A healthy forest removes and stores carbon. It is only when trees are actively growing that they are removing carbon, but they continue to store carbon after being cut, as long as the wood is used for long-term use products such as timber for homes, wood siding, cabinetry, furniture, and other value-added manufacturing products.

Living Forest Communities protect large tracts of forest land through conservation and sustainable timber harvesting. By developing a forestry management plan, which is monitored through an ecoforestry covenant registered with a reputable third party, Conservation Communities practice carbon stewardship by assisting the forest in its maturation, harvesting timber in a sustainable fashion, and using the timber resource for carbon storing products.

Local

Good stewardship of a local community’s natural resources is the foundational building block to move towards local sustainability. Local municipalities and regional governments recognize that we need to change the way we build and re-think our land use planning in order to build stronger, healthier, more sustainable communities.

The Living Forest Communities development model begins with a comprehensive ecological baseline assessment of the land. Through a registered protective covenant held by reputable third parties such as the Land Conservancy of Canada, we protect the most sensitive habitats, watercourses and wildlife corridors from interruption by development.

While the BC Government continues to introduce forest stewardship mandates for Crown lands, privately owned forest lands continue to be managed with much less regulation. The forest stewardship mandated in the Living Forest Communities model takes the BC Government’s sustainability initiative to a whole new level. Healthy forests maintain and enhance the ecological functioning of our watersheds and counter the negative ecological impacts of conventional rural sprawl and suburban development.

Living Forest Communities clusters residential dwellings in order to decrease the development footprint. Low-impact infrastructure, LEED rated buildings, and narrow roads that follow the contours of the land make these light-on-the-land communities ecologically sound. Design guidelines and architectural controls prescribe the quality, form and character of the homes. The buildings are built according to the most sustainable methods and practices. Using integrated water resource management techniques such as constructed wetlands, we are able to reduce erosion by slowing down runoff and permitting rainfall to recharge the underground aquifers. Proper design of buildings, roads and communal spaces means stream protection, prevention of erosion and proper preservation of ecosystems, habitats and wildlife corridors.

Our communities will be designed to provide allotment gardens, community orchards and greenhouses to enhance local food production, and contribute to a greater sense of food security.

Where appropriate, within the community we will help to establish car-share co-ops, car and van pools, park and ride opportunities, and grocery delivery services. Wells, water pumps, hydroelectricity and other services will be buried underground as much as possible to prevent visual blight. Our sewage treatment utilizes advanced technology that minimizes any impact on the land and its environs.

We recognize the potential for wildfire and forest fire in the forests where our communities lie. Our communities are accompanied by strict fire suppression and protection measures and enforced regulations.

Economic Development

Many British Columbian communities are dependent on the logging industry and associated industries for their economic viability. Current practices of short-term rotation timber harvesting, the export of raw logs, and the sale of our timber in the commodity market are causing mill closures, job losses and an inevitable decrease in the tax base of these communities. The loss of forest resources such as wood fibre and non-timber products makes it difficult for these communities to maintain a steady growth rate in an industry dependent on finite resources.

Living Forest Communities create new employment opportunities for workers in the forest and help diversify the local economy. Conservation communities offer employment in: the ecoforestry industry and related value-added manufacturing enterprises; non-timber forest product harvesting; agroforestry operations; eco-tourism ventures; and any number of associated opportunities.

Living Forest Communities also increase the tax base by incorporating new residential assessments into the conservation forest. By building light-on-the-land infrastructure, the operational expenses that are incurred by municipal and regional districts are minimized.

Social Development

Depending on the scale of the community, the size of the site, and the identified municipal need for affordability in a particular area, we work with local municipalities to provide attainable housing. By designing a mix of housing types and different sizes of tenures in Living Forest Communities, we hope to provide purchasing opportunities for a wide range of income levels. Our communities are flexible in allowing a variety of employment and business opportunities such as home offices, studios, workshops, bed and breakfast operations and ecotourism enterprises.

Living Forest Communities are designed to promote social interaction among neighbours. Our communities are modeled on historical precedents where scale, proportion and pattern encourage face-to-face contact. Building strong communities who work together to protect the land around them is very important to success of the Living Forest Communities model.