Forested watersheds on Vancouver Island and BC’s South Coast are being heavily logged with negative impacts to water quality and availability, wildlife habitat, carbon stores, local economies, and our collective resilience against climate change. Only approx. 8% of the forested area of Vancouver Island and 6% of the forested area of the South Coast are protected and most of the productive old-growth has been logged. Regulations requiring the forest industry to self-monitor are ineffective at maintaining ecosystem health. Community members have become increasingly disconnected from the state of the forests in their region due to a lack of information and options for meaningful input.
One of the ways to convince provincial decision-makers to implement conservation policy solutions is when they are pressured to do so by a diverse network of citizens; and the public will only get involved when they understand the impacts of forest practices in their backyard. To this end, the social innovation we are testing is to empower communities with localized information on forest health, to motivate people to monitor logging impacts in their watersheds and build support for improved forest practices. Through localized maps, public events, strategic communications, and a ‘gumboots on the ground' strategy to get people out monitoring watersheds, we will raise public awareness of the importance of forest conservation for wildlife habitat, a diverse economy, carbon values, and clean water.