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  • (2023) Visual Quality Objectives for the Discovery Islands

    Project Staff

    See the official map of the latest approved Visual Quality Objectives for the Discovery Islands area


    What are “Visual quality objectives”?

    According to the Ministry of Forests, “BC’s reputation as an international tourism destination depends on its spectacular natural beauty. However, tourism and forestry can coexist through innovative forest-management practices. The visual resource management program has a suite of tools to support this coexistence. As well, the Forest and Range Practices Act explicitly identifies the management of scenic values. Visual quality objectives (VQO) guide forest management activities on a landscape. A poster shows examples of each VQO.”

    Another way of seeing VQOs, however, is as an indicator of how concerned government and business are about revealing to the public the true extent of the degradation of nature caused by logging. The greater the number of potential witnesses, the greater the concern for hiding what’s happening (“Preservation”). The smaller the number of people that will witness BC’s war on nature, the less concerned government and industry are (“Maximum Modification”).


    Click on the image to enlarge



    THE 3 MAPS BELOW show the visual quality objectives determined for the Discovery Islands area by the Ministry of Forests in consultation with local stakeholders. The Discovery Islands area is bisected by 2 different natural resource districts, so there are two different sets of maps.

    Quadra, Sonora, East Thurlow, West Thurlow and Hardwicke Island are located in the North Island Natural Resources District. The first map shows VQOs for those islands.

    Cortes, the Redondas, Read, Maurelle, Raza and Stuart Island are all located in the Sunshine Coast Natural Resources District. The second map shows VQOs for those islands.

    Note that the colours used in the legend for each Natural Resources Districts map of VQOs are different for each district.

    VQOs for the North Island Natural Resources District (click image to enlarge)



    VQOs for the Sunshine Coast Natural Resources District (2023):



    VQOs for the Sunshine Coast Natural Resources District (previous to 2023):


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    In the map below the gray-coloured private land areas are NOT protected since government has no policy or authority to regulate how private land is managed.

    During public review of the Draft VQO there were requests for this “misrepresentation” to be corrected; however, the Ministry’s final maps (still) show private waterfront coloured with “protection”—which makes government’s “protected-area” appear much larger than in reality. Private land protections are only what the landowner chooses to implement.




    The new VQO does offer additional visual protection for a number of areas, which is a welcome improvement. It’s noteworthy that both sides of Hole-In-The-Wall are now better protected, and Bute Inlet up to Orford River has been elevated from Modification to Partial Retention. 

     However, there is one serious omission: The west side of Maurelle Island has had its protection downgraded! This Okisollo shoreline has been a matter of community concern and discussion for many years, and there have been deliberate community requests for the Maurelle shoreline to be upgraded to “Retention” due to its high tourism values and proximity to the Octopus Islands Marine Park. Except for the big trees that BCTS wants to log, there is no rationale for degrading this viewshed that has in recent years been elsewise prioritized through public and government investments of time and energy and millions of tax dollars.

    Please note: there is discussion underway about how to respond—and information will be circulated when there is a plan for how to make our community response(s) most effective.

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