More than a decade after the war in the woods which divided communities between jobs versus the environment, most residents in the Clayoquot Sound region no longer view jobs as being a top benefit coming from local forest resources.

According to a survey conducted by McAllister Opinion Research and commissioned by Ecotrust Canada, 71 percent of residents of Clayoquot Sound rate clean air and oxygen as the most important benefit of forests, closely followed by forests being part of our life support system (64 percent) and a home for animals (64 percent). Only 14 percent of residents rated forestry jobs as a top benefit.

First Nations (53 percent) are more likely than other residents (37 percent) to rate the cultural and spiritual value of forests as being the top benefit. The tourism and recreational value of local forests is generally rated as lower in importance.

The random sample survey of 303 residents has a margin of error of 5.1 percent, 19 times out of 20. Interviews were conducted with residents in Tofino, Ucluelet, Ahousat, Itatsoo, Hot Springs Cove, Esowista and Opitsat. The survey was conducted between December 2008 and March 2009.

Ecotrust Canada is releasing results of the survey, which focuses on the region’s sustainability and liveability, in a ten-part series of articles and blog postings over the next several weeks. Ecotrust Canada’s purpose is to build the conservation economy in BC’s coastal bioregion. The organization has offices in Tofino and Vancouver, and has been working in Clayoquot Sound for more than a decade.

The Clayoquot Community Survey also asked residents what they thought of sustainable forestry practices. When it comes to an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach to forestry, the majority of Clayoquot residents have either never heard of it (34 percent) or are not sure (22 percent) whether or not they have. Only 45 percent are actually certain that they have heard of EBM.

In 1995, the Clayoquot Sound Scientific Panel submitted a report with 170 recommendations that fundamentally changed forest management as it had been traditionally practiced in the area. The Scientific Panel pioneered an ecosystem-based management approach to forestry. Among other innovations, conventional clear-cutting was banned in favour of small patch-cuts and a variable retention harvesting system.

Tofino residents are the most familiar with this new EBM approach, with 57 percent of people claiming to know what it is. This drops to 47 percent in Ucluelet and then further to around 21 percent among First Nations.

Impressions of ecosystem-based management are also decidedly split. Ucluelet (62 percent) and Tofino (50 percent) have positive views of EBM compared to Ahousat (18 percent) and other First Nations (32 percent).

Since local timber licences are now owned by Nuu-chah-nulth tribes, unsurprisingly, First Nations (89 percent) are more likely to view forestry as somewhat or very important to their economy compared to Ucluelet (81 percent) and Tofino (60 percent). In terms of rating local forestry practices, only 30 percent of Tofino residents think forestry is somewhat or well managed compared to Ucluelet (40 percent) and Ahousat (41 percent).

When asked about forestry eco-certification labels, residents demonstrated a fairly low level of awareness. Less than a third of Clayoquot residents (30 percent) have heard of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which has certified the forestry management of Iisaak Forest Resources, a Nuu-chah-nulth-owned company operating in Clayoquot Sound. Overall awareness of FSC is highest in Tofino (41 percent) and Ucluelet (34 percent).

Ecotrust Canada commissioned the Clayoquot Community Survey to gain a richer understanding of the concerns and issues of local communities regarding the region’s sustainable development. Next week, Ecotrust Canada will be releasing results about the recreational activities of local residents in Clayoquot Sound.

 

Clayoquot Community Survey
Ecotrust Canada commissioned McAllister Opinion Research to conduct a survey of Clayoquot Sound-Pacific Rim residents in late 2008/early 2009. The main purpose of the research is to gain a richer understanding of local communities to better inform our efforts and outreach in the region. The random sample survey of 303  residents has a margin of error of ±5.1%, 19 times out of 20.  Click here to read about the survey’s methodology.

 

 

Survey Contents
Click the links to read other details and results.