Visual quality is an important aspect when TimberWest is managing the working forest in areas with higher visual sensitivity, Professional Foresters aim to minimize visual impacts of forest management activities by using various field and technical methods. Computer generated models called Digital Terrain Models (DTM’s) accurately show what the planned cutblocks will look like (see below DTM). Field techniques such as dispersal of harvest areas,retention of habitat and riparian features, prompt replanting, and minimizing road construction can also be employed. Harvest activity is not expected to be invisible but is designed to fit into the landscape and be less noticeable. TimberWest has made significant changes to company harvest plans to accommodate tourism operators, often at a high expense and loss of revenue. But these accommodations are done in an effort to be cooperative and respect other operators on the land base. For more information on Visual Quality management at TimberWest please see our Information Sheet.
TimberWest is mindful of visual quality on all of our managed forest lands and some areas have specific, legally required, objectives for visual quality. Visual Quality Objectives (VQO’s) are established by government and enforced by law. Establishing VQO’s is about multiple users in an area working together cooperatively, respecting each other’s business and interests and,developing solutions suitable to a diverse group of users sharing the land base. The result is objectives that meet a variety of economic and ecological needs as well as cooperative development of plans.
Boat Bay on West Cracroft Island is an example of an area where there is an increased degree of management for visuals through VQO’s. Here, TimberWest has significantly reduced harvest activity to accommodate tourism operators in the area. Our planned harvest is voluntarily designed to have much less visual impact than allowed by the government established VQO. The harvest will take place over a period of three years. This allows us to ensure we are achieving the results expected from the model.We have committed to cease logging during the tourism season, will leave more trees near shore to screen active harvest areas and have ensured that harvesting will not be visible from the operator’s campsite on West Cracroft Island. TimberWest developed this plan as the result of many meetings and extensive communications with local tourism operators. The Digital Terrain Model and Orthographic Map illustrate the harvest plans and how they have been minimized to maintain visual quality.
While proactive approaches are taken to manage on West Cracroft, it is important to note that this area is a part of a working forest which TimberWest has had a license to harvest for 30 years. Tourism companies who recently started operating in the area were notified of the forestry activity on receipt of their license. As a condition of the license, they were advised -and acknowledged – that forest activities occur presently and in the mid-long term future near the areas they would be using. They were made aware that these activities could include industrial noise, logging road traffic,heli-logging, booming activities, towing/barging and log dumps and through the license issuance, an expectation set that the tourism operator would cooperate with other users of the land base. Overlapping licenses such as these require mutual recognition of business needs and existing uses of the land base when assessing business opportunity.
TimberWest maintains regular and ongoing communications with local stakeholders for whom visual quality attributes are of interest and the company strives for respectful working relationships. TimberWest is also keen to support local tourism operators with education for tourists on the BC forest industry, its sustainable practices, and its contribution to the community. The West Coast of BC is unique – guests and residents can enjoy pristine wilderness, the working forest, and other activities that make up our diverse identity.
More information on tourism and forestry can be found in the May-June 2014 issue of the BC Forest Professional Magazine.