Deal reached to buy Wildwood Ecoforest

NANAIMO – Ownership of Wildwood Ecoforest in Cedar could be transferred to the Ecoforestry Institute Society.

A deal has been reached that could see ownership of Wildwood Ecoforest in Cedar transferred from the Land Conservancy of B.C. to the Ecoforestry Institute Society.

The non-profit conservancy holds the 31-hectare forested site in trust, but wants to sell due to multimillion-dollar debt. The society has eyed the property since fall 2013, and recently upped its offer to $900,000 from $600,000, said Kathy Code, society spokeswoman.

The deal will need B.C. Supreme Court approval. In addition, an ecoforestry management plan must be approved by Herb Hammond, an ecoforester and impartial third party, according to Code, in order to make certain Wildwood continues to adhere to principles of Merve Wilkinson, former owner and sustainable logging pioneer.

The plan will detail how the society will manage the forest. Wilkinson did it on a five-year basis and Code said it’s done through selective logging.

“Our ecoforesters will go through the [31 hectares], they’ll identify those trees then, looking at soil conditions, the light, the density, the other species that are around those trees, they’ll decide which ones can come out then to make room for new growth, or depending on other conditions in the forest, which ones they can afford to harvest without destroying the integrity of the rest of the forest,” said Code.

Cathy Armstrong, land conservancy acting director of operations, said her group is happy Wildwood will remain in a non-profit’s hands.

“Obviously this is a group that have looked after the property for us from the beginning, so it’s a known entity, it’s a non-profit entity that showed willingness to work with us to develop the covenant and management plan and that’s been the sticking point and why it took a little bit longer to get to a final resolution,” Armstrong said.

Code said the $900,000 is from private donations – $110,000 will go toward conservancy creditor debt forgiveness, while the remaining $790,000 is in direct money.

The deal calls for the land transfer to be completed by Dec. 11.

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