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sunshine coast community forest SCCF

forest stewardship

Ecosystem Based Management

Ensuring a resilient forest and community

The Sunshine Coast Community Forest is transitioning to Ecosystem Based Management to answer the call for a paradigm shift in forestry management. This is a voluntary, proactive approach to better manage our local forest, incorporating the best science with community and indigenous values. This methodology aims to sustain healthy ecosystems, to maintain and support biodiversity, to provide economic opportunity and to retain future options both ecological and economic. 

This is a long-term, iterative and holistic planning process which strives to be truly sustainable, to respect and reflect knowledge and understanding, and to be adaptive to changing conditions. 

In the first steps to implementing Ecosystem Based Management, we have started to invest in understanding ecosystems as they currently exist in the Community Forest.  This has been undertaken at both a landscape level and on a per-block basis.  


The latest Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM) and block reports detailing these

analyses and assessments are available in our Research and Reports


We are guided by renowned habitat ecologist Laurie Kremsater, planner and trainer of the Great Bear Rainforest, and our Operations Manager Warren Hansen, RPF.  Scientific knowledge, indigenous traditional knowledge, and community values will be integrated into planning to re-determine our annual allowable cut, deferrals, old growth recruitment, watershed protection, wildlife, cultural, recreational, and other ecological strategies. 

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Wildfire Risk to Forests and Community

The beautiful neighbourhoods peppered with large trees, rustic cabins nestled in forests, and the beautiful beaches that characterize life on the Sunshine Coast, also contribute to its vulnerability to wildfire.  This area where community intermingles with the natural environment is called the wildland urban interface.  It is at a greater risk of catastrophic wildfire, and on the Sunshine Coast makes up a staggering 441 km2.  Mountainous geography and water restrict most areas to one or sometimes two points of access, both on a neighbourhood and on a regional scale, and this challenges emergency response planning.  As our climate changes, our communities are increasingly aware of this risk, and interested in seeing it addressed.  As a community-led organization with a forest stewardship mandate, this is a high priority for the Sunshine Coast Community Forest.

We have some things going for us.

Community leaders: informed, interested, and taking action

The SCRD partnered with the shíshálh Nation, Town of Gibsons, and the District of Sechelt to commission a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) with funding from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Community Resiliency Investment Program.  This work included wildfire risk assessments on public land within the wildland urban interface.  The consultants identified extensive areas at high risk of wildfire including in Egmont, Pender Harbour, Halfmoon Bay, West Sechelt, Sechelt Inlet, Roberts Creek, Port Mellon, and Gambier Island.  The plan included 43 recommendations towards making our communities more resilient to wildfire.  Many of these have been done or are underway. 

Watch the recorded SCRD meeting where the plan was presented.

Want to dig deeper? Read the full Community Wildfire Protection Plan

How to reduce the risk of wildfire spreading through the Community Forest 

Introducing Frontera Forest Solutions

Using the groundwork laid by this Community Wildfire Protection Plan as an information spring board, we engaged the foremost experts in BC to look at the role the Community Forest can play.  Frontera specializes in fuel management, fire risk assessment, fire ecology and restoration, and prescribed fire planning.  They have partnerships with the University of British Columbia which is leading forest fire mitigation research, and have worked with other community-based forest stewards like First Nations and Community Forests around the province.  Locally managed forests like these are at the forefront of implementing wildfire mitigation projects, including the iconic story of the Logan Lake Community Forest’s success.

Read the report from Frontera:

Wildfire Tactical Planning

Tactical Planning Table

Coastal forests see fewer fires than the interior, however the risk of large fires on the coast increases with the longer, drier summers.  Projects that reduce fire risk usually involve removing “Fuel”, such as logs on the forest floor and dead lower branches on trees.  If you read Part 1 of our EBM Series on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation, you’ll recall that such “dead” wood is one of the six measurable attributes of old forest conditions, and an important part of forest habitat.  There will be difficult decisions to be made to balance ecosystem health with reducing known extreme fire risk to those ecosystems, and to our communities.


Community forestry is about local people making local decisions about local forests.  We want people like you to come learn about this with us, and help make informed decisions that strike the right balance for you.  If you are interested in being involved in this discussion, please follow us on social media, in the Coast Reporter, or by signing up for our e-newsletter below for future updates as this work unfolds.


Learn more!

Follow us on Instagram or Facebook and sign up for our newsletter


Fortunately there are many free recorded webinars from leading experts in our province on this topic, and we recommend these:

Escalating Wildfires: Adaptation and mitigation strategies for communities & forests

Prescribed Fire & Adapting for Resilient Futures

Lil'wat Nation-led planned burn case study in 2022

Biodiversity and Ecosystems
in the Community Forest

sunshine coast community forest habitat restoration
Habitat Restoration
with the Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project  
In 2015, a devastating forest fire burned through 400 hectares of forest on the west side of Sechelt Inlet.

The Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project is working to restore wetland ecosystems with our support at the Community Forest, and consent of the shíshálh Nation.  Six wetland restoration sites have been completed and ongoing monitoring of these areas continues, as well as surveys to identify additional suitable sites for future habitat enhancement projects.

Wetlands have an important role in managing our most critical resource: water; providing purification, storage and flood control.  Importantly, wetlands are also extremely efficient at sequestering large amounts of carbon, helping to mitigate climate change impacts.  

Wetland habitats and the wildlife which rely on them are threatened by climate change. As summers get hotter and drier, small wetlands are drying out, and forest fires are destroying large tracts of land including forested wetlands. Species at risk ranking suggests that pond-breeding amphibians have limited ability to adapt to the warming and drying of small ponds, shallow wetlands and forest floors. To ensure the survival of wetland-dependent wildlife species, it is essential to maintain, restore, and enhance wetlands within human-dominated landscapes. 

Species at risk in BC are protected by legislation, including the federal Species at Risk Act, and provincial Wildlife Act and Forest and Range Practices Act.  These laws provide a solid foundation of protections to minimize negative impacts to at-risk plants, animals and ecosystems.  These habitat restoration projects are one of many community-led initiatives reaching above and beyond those minimum legislated protections, and one which we are proud to be able to support with over $40,000 contributed as well as the efforts of our Board and staff. 

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Forest Health
Forest Health
Hemlock Looper Moth
sunshine coast community forest hemlock looper moth

The Western Hemlock Looper moth is a native species that is a natural part of the coastal forest ecosystem.  It feeds on the needles of various tree species, preferring the Western Hemlock.  


When the moths are present in large numbers, this results in the tops of impacted trees turning brown, and eventually fallen brown needles around the base of host trees.  Some trees will recover, and others most susceptible will die from the damage.

  • allowing younger trees to emerge

  • promoting ongoing forest regeneration

  • supporting nutrient cycling

sunshine coast community forest
sunshine coast community forest SCCF
sunshine coast community forest SCCF

In our coastal forests, the Western Hemlock Looper population typically rises and falls over an 11-15 year cycle.  They increase in number over time culminating in an outbreak which may last from 2-4 years.  Large populations become susceptible to parasites which reduce the population to lower baseline levels, restarting the cycle.

Signs of an outbreak were identified on the Sunshine Coast in 2021 including within the Community Forest in the vicinity of Trout Lake and Crowston Lake.  


The Ministry of Forests monitors the situation with their provincial entomologist, and they have observed a population crash with moths dying from parasites.  The impact in terms of tree death within the community forest was extremely low.  Natural environmental factors will influence when the next outbreak occurs, which is expected to be approximately a decade away.

Our coastal forests have co-evolved with the Hemlock Looper moths and other species which humans may consider pests.  The fact that susceptible trees are killed off by the moths is an important component of ecosystem dynamics. This is essential in:​​


Not immediately, as generally the trees were healthy prior to dying. After years of decay the trees may become structurally weaker.  Trees that had pre-existing structural defects and decay, on case by case bases, may have to be removed if they present a risk – for example if they are adjacent to a trail or road.

  • western hemlock

  • western red cedar

  • interior spruce

  • Douglas fir 


In the Community Forest the greatest impact is on western hemlock, which are more likely to succumb to the damage caused by the moths.  Douglas Fir are also infested with moths to a lesser degree, and are generally able to recover from the damage.

sunshine coast community forest hemlock looper moth

There are no measures we’re prepared to take at this time. Traditionally here on the coast, best practice is to let the outbreak naturally run its course, usually within three years. The only known treatment is to use a bacterium naturally found in the soil. It is grown and applied in a more concentrated form.

The summer of 2021 saw extreme heat and drought widely attributed to climate change while the current Hemlock Looper outbreak was well underway.  It is not yet clear what impact this will have on the survival of the impacted trees.  Some experts expect that the drought and heat stress will make the trees vulnerable to other infestations, such as by bark beetles.  Others expect that the trees may be better able to withstand drought conditions as the loss of needles reduces water loss through transpiration and that healthy trees could fully recover after 1-2 years.  This has been likened to the effect of desert plants shedding their leaves during the dry season.  In either case, for the next two years the browning and dropped needles will be apparent in the impacted areas.

Get involved!

Learn about local biodiversity and contribute to meaningful wildlife research by joining iNaturalist or WildCam.


These networks allow you to document your observations of wildlife, make them available to researchers, and connect with like-minded people to learn and collaborate. 

sunshine coast community forest Wildcam
sunshine coast community forest get involved

Sign up to stay informed of opportunities to get involved with the Community Forest & its partners

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sunshine coast community forest SCCF
More information:

BC Government:

Western Hemlock Looper 

Natural Resources Canada: Western Hemlock Looper

BC Government:

Species at risk in Canada

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