Forest stewardship advocates are gathering in Nelson this weekend for the first annual Forest Summit & Convergence, where they hope to establish a baseline for their advocacy efforts to protect and sustainably maintain forests across B.C.
Grand Forks resident Jennifer Houghton, one of the organizers of the event, said that more than 50 people have registered for the two-day event, including advocates from communities like Glade, Ymir and Peachland.
“They have all been trying to get the government to reduce the logging activity in their watersheds because the logging activity is negatively affecting their water,” Houghton said. “I’ve discovered over the past year and a half that there are many communities across B.C. that have serious concerns about the [impacts] of forestry legislation and forestry activity in our province.”
In June, for example, the District of Peachland wrote a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations that said that residents were “concerned that the cumulative effects of harvesting, droughts, fires, and climate change are having negative effects on our water quality and quantity of flow in our watersheds.”
In a September report regarding a complaint from 2017, the Forests Practices Board did not conclude that forestry practices were directly to blame for some issues in the watershed.
Rather, the report determined that “[The Board] found that these watersheds are actively used for many different activities and by different industries, which creates the potential for unmanaged or undetected cumulative effects,” adding that “the absence of watershed-specific monitoring data makes it difficult to determine if cumulative effects are happening, given the inherent natural variability in the watersheds.”
The Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance responded by noting that some of the local practices may be legal, but they leave much to be desired in terms of stewardship.
Nevertheless, the Forest Summit in Nelson will offer a platform for groups to share resources and information.
“There’s a lot of small community groups and individual scientists and environmentalists around the province who’ve been fighting the battles on their own,” Houghton said. “This forest summit is aimed at bringing together our voices voices, unifying our message and building a movement that will allow people to take unified action […].”
More information is available at boundaryforest.org.