Whistler is now an official Landscape Unit, thanks to a change ushered in by the province that will make it easier to plan logging and other resources within the Cheakamus Community Forest and region surrounding Whistler.
Peter Ackhurst, the chair of the Cheakamus Community Forest, said that the new Whistler Landscape Unit would make it easier to plan in the future.
"The Province of B.C. is divided into landscape units and the B.C. Forest Service and Ministry of the Environment use those to manage the land. They have a plan for each unit, and what's new is they've just created a landscape unit for Whistler because of the community forest," he said.
"I think before we were working in four different landscape units, or bits of them, and the government said if you want to measure your activities with an Ecosystem-based Management (EBM) plan you really should have your own landscape unit - so they actually did that, much to our surprise."
Ackhurst explained that the Cheakamus Community Forest is roughly 33,000 hectares in size, while the overall landscape unit will measure about 90,000 hectares. The rest of the land is in parks, tenures or zoned for purposes other than resource extraction.
The annual allowable cut for the community forest, which was established for the 2010 forestry season, is roughly 20,000 cubic metres per year.
The EBM approach ensures that any forestry operations will take into account the health of the surrounding ecosystem. Some of the strategies for achieving EBM and the highest rating for wood that comes from the region include increasing streamside riparian protection, increasing forest retention within areas in Whistler's viewscapes and developing management strategies to protect red - and blue-listed ecosystems and any rare or unique ecosystems - such as old growth areas that are unique in the landscape unit.
Ackhurst said the community forest would be hosting a public open house to explain EBM and the Whistler Landscape Unit, as well as to present their Old Forest Plan for public feedback. They will also talk about the year's forestry operations and future plans.
That open house will take place on Thursday, Nov. 3 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Whistler Public Library's common room. Everyone is welcome to attend.