The lush forests surrounding the Village of Cumberland are enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year who come to the area for both recreation and relaxation. Beautiful walking and hiking paths and renowned mountain biking trails zigzag through a thriving coastal forest filled with wetlands, streams, historic landmarks and diverse flora and fauna.

Some interesting fauna in the forest…This trail is already in the Community Forest owned portion, many more trails are not!

This forest also provides a beautiful green backdrop to a community that defines itself by its proximity to the woods – a Village in the Forest.

What many residents and visitors don’t know is that significant parts of this privately owned forest are slated to be logged as early as 2016. The Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS) is launching a new campaign to ensure that doesn’t happen.

“Our next purchase is critical to preserving key trails and protecting the southern view scape of the Village”, says CCFS President, Andrew Nicoll. “The first piece is a large parcel to the left of the yellow gate at the bottom of Sutton Rd. It contains some of the first mountain biking trails built in the area including Black Hole and Space Nugget. This area is also a huge part of the south facing viewscape of the community.”

This picture was shot above Cumberland on a trail that is not currently in the Community Forest!

“The second piece, also scheduled to be logged in 2016, is the beautiful forest just beyond #1 Japanese Town along Comox Lake Rd. This historically important area was used by the Japanese community and is home to the Perseverance Creek wetlands. It is a stunning natural area and we’re also exploring the possibility of a multi-use board walk project as part of this purchase. This could create accessibility for visitors of diverse ability while at the same time protecting a fragile natural area”.

All of the forests surrounding Cumberland are privately owned as part of the legacy of the E&N Land Transfer in the late 1800’s that saw over 2 million acres of land along the eastern side of Vancouver Island transfer into private hands in exchange for building a railway.

The CCFS began to purchase privately owned forest lands back in 2000 working cooperatively with land owners and timber companies.  To date the CCFS has raised over $1.2 million and purchased over 150 acres. The purchased lands are connected to the Coal Creek Heritage Park. Together these protected lands are part of an important natural corridor along the south side of the Village called the Cumberland Forest. A vibrant mountain biking community, naturalists, herbalists, hikers, families, artists, photographers, runners and many others consider the Cumberland Forest to be an integral part of the community.

“Our purchases have been funded solely by individuals and organizations committed to forest preservation, without any taxpayer dollars. Our next purchase will increase this protected area by 50% but that is still just a small part of a big forest.  The CCFS is committed to continuing its work to acquire all forest lands available in this area to further establish the Cumberland Forest as a protected space for generations to come”, says Nicoll. “Monthly donors are how we make these purchases possible and already new donors are signing on to make sure we save these forests in time!”

Young people need forest too!

Big plans are underway to kick off this new campaign in October with a special celebration and big launch event. A fundraising raffle is also underway featuring great prizes including Canucks VIP Package Tickets, a Cruiser Bike, Whale Watching Adventures, Tofino Accommodations, Corre Alice original artwork, gift certificates and much more! Tickets are on sale now at City Centre Spirits in Courtenay and Dodge City Cycles, The Waverley Beer and Wine Store and Alley Cuts in Cumberland or from CCFS volunteers. Check out or their facebook page Cumberland Forest for new locations and details on how to support the efforts of the CCFS

-Cumberland Community Forest Society

-Photo’s from the citizenclass archives.