[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?
Where will it work the best?The Living Forest Communities business model will work best in municipalities and regional districts with large tracts of privately owned forestland. This model is particularly suited to forests with high conservation value that are close to already built-up areas, adjacent to existing parks or conservation areas, or parcels that feature prominently in highly public view corridors.
Recently, in the face of deteriorating conditions for commodity harvested timber, many of the forestry companies in BC have been selling their re-forested land rather than waiting for the normal growth rotation for harvest. Many of these properties are in close proximity to lakes, rivers, the ocean and other amenities that make them attractive lands for rural residential development. While municipalities have control over the zoning of these lands, they are unable to regulate the harvesting regimes of forestry companies. Clear-cut logging cannot be controlled at a local level and, frequently, the harvested land is left as a poor resource for communities.
Although faced with the need to reconcile ecological costs with budgetary constraints, municipal and regional governments have realized that the transfer of large tracts of forestland into large-scale residential development is unsustainable on multiple levels. A reduced resource base limits future economic opportunity for the community and takes jobs away from local residents. As the effects of Climate Change become more prominent, the need to maintain our natural systems for the ecosystem services they provide is becoming more urgent. Protecting our water sources, nourishing our soils and adopting sound carbon stewardship practices are necessary.
Under the Local Government (Green Communities) Statutes Amendment Act (Bill 27), 2008, the BC government has created enabling legislation that will assist local government to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The legislative amendments provide governments with a variety of tools and mechanisms to help them assess and reward developments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water and energy, and create more compact and sustainable communities.
Our model, with its Community Land Stewardship land use designation and the associated Development Permit Guidelines process, is a framework mechanism that is entirely consistent with the policy of the above statute. The model will assist any local government and regional district to meet the requirements under the above legislation to assess and reward positive development projects .Our model economically and socially benefits communities and creates a positive impact on the ecology through conservation and preservation, and minimizes greenhouse gas emissions
Increasingly there is pressure from the surrounding property owners for public bodies to finance the preservation of forested lands. While Land Trust organizations are sometimes able to mount campaigns to acquire the most valuable properties, frequently the land is too expensive and it is ultimately sold for development. With the Living Forest Community model, no local government expenditure is required to conserve the forests.