Heritage Forest Management
History of Forest Acquisition and Protection
In 1995 the Brown family considered developing a part of their property consisting of about 20 hectares (50 acres) of forested lands (the Lands). The Brown Property Preservation Society (BPPS) was formed to raise funds through public donations for the purchase of the Lands and to prevent the Lands from being developed as 110 building lots. From 1996 to 2004, hundreds of volunteers worked on events to raise funds and to stimulate donations for the purchase of the Lands. The Town of Qualicum Beach contributed the balance from their Parks budget and this Forest was saved from development. This unique struggle to save the Forest shows what a small community can do when they work together to achieve a collective vision. Local residents had decided to keep a distinctive piece of urban forest intact and did so, thereby preserving one of Qualicum Beach’s special places. This massive volunteer effort culminated in the purchase of these Lands and afforded protection forever.
After the Lands were purchased, the ‘Brown Property’ became known as the ‘Heritage Forest’ and the Heritage Forest Commission was formed in 2005. Membership consists of 2 members of the BPPS, 1 Town Council member and 2 members of the general public. Initially, the role of the Heritage Forest Commission (HFC) was to formulate a registered Conservation Covenant to protect and manage the Heritage Forest in perpetuity. The covenant was eventually agreed upon and signed on July 15, 2008, forming a legal partnership between the Town of Qualicum Beach, the Brown Property Preservation Society and The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC). The HFC now meets quarterly. The BPPS has a group of elected Directors who meet periodically as the need arises, to discuss Forest issues and to make management recommendations to Town Council through the HFC. Our BPPS membership annual general meeting is held usually in February or March. Come provide your input.
The protective Conservation Covenant states that Lands are to be used for the ‘quiet enjoyment of Nature’ by present and future generations. To be protected, preserved and maintained in a Natural State to provide wildlife habitat. Low impact uses such as plant and wildlife viewing are encouraged. Natural processes are permitted. Any occupation or use that diminishes or interferes with the Natural State is not allowed.
To allow the Heritage Forest to evolve in a Natural State and to manage the Lands in accordance with the following management objectives.
(a) To protect, preserve, conserve, maintain, enhance and restore the Lands and the Amenities in a Natural State for ecological and environmental reasons;
(b) To protect, preserve and maintain the capacity of the Lands as birthing, rearing, and refuge habitat for wildlife;
(c) To protect, preserve and maintain native vegetation;
(d) To protect, preserve and maintain the quality and quantity of water that flows from the Lands into Beach Creek;
(e) To permit low impact, passive recreational uses, such as walking, jogging, plant and wildlife viewing;
(f) To permit natural processes to occur which may disturb the Lands and Amenities including windthrow, flooding, channel changes and slope failure;
(g) To prevent any occupation or use of the Lands that will diminish or interfere with the Natural State of the Lands or Amenities therein.
(h) To encourage public education and appreciation of the Lands and Amenities.
The Heritage Forest supports a diverse array of flora, fauna, natural features and ecological processes (the Amenities). It is dominated by Douglas fir, as well as grand fir and western red cedar, with minor amounts of hemlock, bigleaf maple, lodgepole pine, dogwood, Sitka spruce, Garry oak and arbutus. The understory is dominated by salal, Oregon grape and oceanspray. Less prominent species include huckleberry, baldhip rose, snowberry, western trumpet honeysuckle, vanilla-leaf, sword fem, bracken fern, three-leafed foamflower and western trillium. Moist sites support salmonberry, elderberry, lady fern, skunk cabbage and false lily-of-thevalley. The most notable wildlife includes native aquatic species such as coho salmon and cutthroat trout, barred owls, pileated, hairy and downy woodpeckers, ravens, bald eagles, black-tailed deer, raccoons, red squirrels plus many species of songbirds. Beach Creek deeply incises the Heritage Forest as it meanders along to the nearby Salish Sea.
You are encouraged to walk the mulch trails, enjoy nature and perhaps learn from the interpretive signage. Please though, butt out, stay on the trails, leave the plants and fungi for others to enjoy, and be respectful of others by picking up after your dog and by keeping your dog on a leash. Thank you!