Easing the Forestry Footprint on Vancouver Island’s Tourism Industry
British Columbia’s steadily-growing tourism industry competes for equal say in the management of forested lands in a province dominated by forestry since the early 20th Century. A key point of friction between these two vital industries stems from the negative public perception of landscapes altered by timber harvesting. On Vancouver Island in particular, lands valued for forestry are often the same scenic environments promoted by the province and tourism operators as holding great wilderness value for travelers and outdoor adventurers. Tourism operators feel their products are devalued when public satisfaction with nature experiences is impacted by deforestation and visually unattractive surroundings.
To better understand the conflicts between forestry and tourism on Vancouver Island, researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta interviewed professionals from both industries. Researchers found that individuals on both sides saw flaws in current forest management practices, but the primary challenge is a persistent view that forestry remains the province’s single most important industry – despite increasing economic contributions from tourism. Several respondents criticized stakeholder consultations for failing to hear enough from the public and some noted situations where forestry companies did not fully adhere to regulatory visual quality standards for landscape alterations. This study suggests that the province could adopt a set of forestry management guidelines and formal agreements specifically for popular tourism areas, such as Vancouver Island, to protect the natural landscapes that are vital to our mountain tourism initiatives and revenues.
This is a summary article authored by Kelly Fowler and edited by Charlie Loewen. For further information, please see the original published research:
Kyle W. Hilsendager, Howard W. Harshaw & Robert A. Kozak (2016) Reducing the Impact of Forest Harvesting on the Vancouver Island Tourism Industry. The Forestry Chronicle, 92:101–111 (doi:10.5558/tfc2016-022).