Coastal Douglas-Fir Toolkit

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What are the key policies in the Islands’ Trust Coastal Douglas-Fir Toolkit?

The Islands Trust’s “Protecting the Coastal Douglas-Fir Zone” toolkit (2018) describes the CDF zone and its threats, and explores the various regulatory tools that Local Trust Committees can use to preserve and protect the zone.

A key message of the Toolkit is that:

“The Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) Biogeoclimatic Zone is found nowhere else in Canada. It includes a unique set of ecosystems that occur along the edge of south-east Vancouver Island, across the Gulf Islands, and along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The Islands Trust Area is entirely within the CDF zone.” (p.8)

The Toolkit describes the importance of CDF conservation:

“There is significant concern for the conservation of the CDF zone. The Coastal Douglas-fir Conservation Partnership has emphasized the importance of the CDF zone as being biologically rich and containing globally imperiled and provincially identified species at risk, as well as containing ecosystems at risk. CDF ecosystems clean our air and water, absorb carbon from the atmosphere, provide climate change mitigation and adaptation, and contribute to food resilience by providing habitat for pollinators and insectivores. CDF forests are important for people’s mental health and wellbeing, and provide recreational and educational opportunities for people to learn about the significance, ecology, and cultural importance of these special coastal rainforests.The CDF zone can also add to property values. Individual properties that are in the vicinity of natural areas and parkland can increase property values by 3–6% (or more).” (p.8)

The Toolkit describes the threat to the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone in this way (p.12):

“Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems are under threat from human pressures. Of all the zones in the province, the CDF has been most altered by human activities:

  • Almost half of the CDF lands have been converted for human use (urban, roads, agriculture, mining, industrial, etc.).
  • 75% of the human population of BC lives in the CDF, including the major centres of Vancouver, Victoria, and Nanaimo where population growth is expected to continue.
  • The CDF has the highest road density of any biogeoclimatic zone in BC. The trend of deforestation and residential sprawl continues. Even in the Islands Trust Area, many local trust committees have not reduced the subdivision potential inherited by the zoning that was already in place when the Islands Trust was created in 1974. The continued parcelization and subdivision of land causes fragmentation and perpetuates the incremental loss of contiguous forest cover, threatening the remaining natural systems.”

The Toolkit includes a map of priority conservation areas on Gabriola, Mudge and DeCourcy (p.10):

The Toolkit also provides the following summary of the key regulatory tools that Local Trust Committees can use to protect the CDF zone in their jurisdiction:

“To advance protection of the Coastal Douglas-fir zone, official community plans should specifically set goals, objectives, and policies that support CDF retention and protection. Each OCP (Official Community Plan) should also be amended to:

  • Include strong language directing protection of the CDF zone.
  • Implement the Islands Trust Conservancy Regional Conservation Plan.
  • Include specific policies supporting park dedication that protects CDF forests (see the section on park dedication to follow LINK).
  • Include Development Permit Areas for the protection of the environment, specifically the Coastal Douglas-fir zone and associated ecosystems.
  • Include “urban” containment boundaries achieved through Land designations and land use policies that preserve large lot areas outside of the villages, and that direct density to specific areas of the islands zoned for mixed use commercial/residential, smaller lots, and areas that can be serviced by adequate water supplies.
  • Identify protection of the CDF zone as an amenity that can be provided at the time of rezoning. Establish the nexus between development impacts and ecological services.
  • Include enabling policies for conservation subdivisions, amenity zoning, density transfers, and density bonusing.
  • Include language and policies that reference and honour the cultural heritage of Coast Salish stewardship, including the protection of culturally important places, and archaeological sites.” (p.17-18)

The CDF Toolkit is available here:

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