Unprotected  old growth trees in a Teal Jones cutblock area

Unprotected old growth trees in a Teal Jones cutblock area. Some of the trees on Canada’s west coast date back as much as 1,000 years
Photo Credit: Ty Jones via Wilderness Committee

Battle for ancient forests in B.C: blockades again?

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Well over twenty years ago, there was a sometimes bitter struggle on Canada’s west coast.

It pitted conservationists against logging companies, The conservationists, aboriginal groups, and other concerned individuals were blockading access roads and forestry equipment in their efforts to preserve the giant cedars, Douglas fir and redwoods in the ancient forests along the coast of Vancouver Island and the mainland..

On Vancouver Island, protests involved the Clayoquot Sound area near the town of Tofino, and further south around the Walbran River.

Vancouver Island, and Walbran area
Vancouver Island, and Walbran area © google-mm

As a result of that protest, some protection was provided in a region around Clayoquot  (Tofino), and to the south, the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park was created in 1990. The battle there however seems like it might be set to resume.

Measuring the base of the *Tolkien Giant* one of the named trees in the southern area of the Central Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island, B.C., and also in a presently unportected area.
Measuring the base of the *Tolkien Giant* one of the named trees in the southern area of the Central Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island, B.C., and also in a presently unportected area. © Ancient Forest Alliance, TJ Watt/The Canadian Press

A logging company, Teal Jones, has secured rights to log within areas of the Walbran River Valley just outside of the provincial park boundary.

Conservation groups say this is where some of the largest ancient trees are and the clearcut zones proposed would break up the contiguous forest right in the valley area.

detail of Cublock areas outside provincial park in the Wlabran River Valley DARK GREEN=park area; LIGHT GREEN- Wilderness committee propesed boudnaries; YELLOW- areas already clearcut, RED OUTLINES-proposed logging areas
detail of Cublock areas outside provincial park in the Wlabran River Valley DARK GREEN=park area; LIGHT GREEN- Wilderness committee propesed boudnaries; YELLOW- areas already clearcut, RED OUTLINES-proposed logging areas; RED AREA- licence granted in Septemeber © Wilderness Committee

The Surrey B.C. company had applied for eight logging zones in this area just outside the park, and one was in fact approved in September.

Now nearby communities are joining in the request to the British Columbia government to step in and preserve the giant ancient trees, some of which are “named” and remain in the unprotected area.

The city of Tofino and the Chamber of Commerce in Port Renfrew south of the Walbran, have released a statement asking the government to ban logging in the valley.

In an article byTerri Theodore of The Canadian Press , Chamber president Dan Hager said people come from around the world to see the giant forest and the most heavily visited areas are outside the park.  He is quoted saying, “It’s great for business. These trees are spectacular. There’s almost no place in the country where trees like this are accessible to the population.” He says tourism to see the natural beuaty, including the giant trees, has enormously boosted the local economies.

Clearcut area in Walbran Valley
Clearcut area in Walbran Valley © Wilderness Committee

Tofino passed a resolution last week calling on added protection for Walbran and all old growth forest. Mayour Josie Osborne is also quoted saying. “”Tofino is one of the places in British Columbia that really can see the benefit of having protested the government’s plans for logging in an area and we’ve benefited from that”.

In a statement on the Wilderness Committee  website, campaigner Torrance Coste said “This type of old-growth forest is simply too rare to destroy, and the fact that the government isn’t responding to this crisis is shameful:”

The statement also says “We don’t want this to go to a blockade,” Coste said. “The provincial government has the ability to avoid that, and it’s time for them to step up—they need to rescind this permit and start engaging with the company, local First Nations and the public on alternatives.”

In an interview with the Victoria Times Colonist news this summer Teal-Jones Chief Financial Officer, Hanif Karmally said the company gave up 7,000 hectares of its licence in creation of the park, and protected areas leave only 11,080 hectares of its almost 60,000 hectare tree farm licence left available.. Karmally is quoted at the time as saying, further  reductions would be “detrimental” to the company.

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11 comments on “Battle for ancient forests in B.C: blockades again?
  1. Avatar Nicole says:

    What can we, the general public do to stop this? You all post a great informative story, but zero guidance to how we can help. Please elaborate in plain English so all we want to help can help.

    • Marc Montgomery Marc Montgomery says:

      Perhaps contact the environmental groups mentioned in the article and links- Wilderness society, friends of Clayoquot, and other environmental groups like Greenpeace. They could surely offer you advice.

  2. Avatar Laura Zadorozny says:

    The thought of taking down ancient trees is so insane and thoughtless. These trees clean the air that we breath and nurture the forest around them.
    Stop the savage dismantling of our Old Growth Forests and let the Rainforest take care of the earth.

  3. Avatar Marlene E. Simmons says:

    I am a defendant in the Teal Cedar Vs law suit currently before the Supreme Court of British Columbia. I am being sued by this corporation for the costs they estimate incurred due to the slow down of their harvest and shipment process by blockading effectively on various logging roads in the area of their injunction. Our next court date is in Victoria on January 4th 2016 when the terms for the current injunction come up before a judge for review. I have been to court in the Vancouver last Tuesday December 15th in order to answer personally to the suit that they have begun. With me in court that day were several concerned defenders including acting hereditary Chief of the Qwa-Ba-Diwa Peter Knighton. Although I twice asked the judge to allow this important claimant to speak before me my request was twice denied. I appeared in a hand made red dress in solidarity with the murdered and missing indigenous women and children who today represent the effects of our violent, destructive and costly economic system that is the heart of rape culture. My action and statement will soon be available on youtube. I urge all Canadians who care about climate change, climate justice, indigenous and women’s rights to please email me with a submission to bring to court with me of you own about why the old growth in the entirety of BC needs protecting and especially urgently in the case of this Walbran Valley. The Qwa-ba-Diwa have been reduced to six souls since the time of colonization. This is the genocide going on in the woods today. There is no war here – only the fierce determination of an entire community struggling to protect the ancient forest. xo Marlene – msbloodroot@gmail.com Use the subject line “here for you <3" so I know you aren't just digital. LONG LIVE THE ANCIENT FOREST!

  4. Avatar B Sommers says:

    It is well past time for old growth logging to be banned. Squeezing a few quick dollars out of the tiny bit of remaining old growth forest is very short-sighted.
    My children, grandchildren, and I thank you in advance.

  5. Avatar Laura says:

    The BC government is acting COMPLETELY unaccountable for this devastation of our old growth forests. I have not received a reply to the letter I wrote to the Minister of Forests yet. I did however get an automated reply saying he was too busy to respond right now. What option does this leave concerned citizens who are enraged their children may never experience the wonder of old growth forests or those who’s livelihoods depend on intact old growth? What that means is that people will have to resort to civil disobedience because there appears to be no other way to save the little old growth we have left. It’s so disheartening that I actually PAY this criminal BC government to destroy my home. Disgusting.

  6. Avatar Susannah Garrett says:

    This Coastal rainforest known as the Walbran is of world class natural heritage value, and it would be a crime against us all to keep logging here. Teal Jones needs to manage its second growth tree farms better and leave the ancient rainforest alone. We need the this awe inspiring old growth forest for sustainable Eco tourism and the First Nations need this forest to practice their traditional ways such as selective bark harvesting and berry picking. Thank you ?

  7. Avatar Sol Kinnis says:

    Please note that Teal Jones did not “[give] up 7,000 hectares of its licence in creation of the park” as they were not the company that held the TFL at the time the park was created. The current demand of forest protectors is a mere 485ha (of their 11,000ha) to be completely protected and for the area surrounding the park, which is currently designated as a “Special Management Zone” (SMZ), to be managed as per the stated requirements for SMZ’s – including respecting biodiversity, and ecological and recreational value. Currently the SMZ is being logged extensively with a maze of road construction and little apparent regard for erosion, water quality of salmon bearing streams, biodiversity, or maintaining any old growth. What we have witnessed on the ground in the SMZ is a disgrace and is hardly better than what we saw 20 and 30 years ago in the logging industry.

  8. Avatar Jon Cash says:

    Teal Jones did not take over TFL 46 until long after the park was set up. It gave up nothing. Timber West was the original holder of the TFL and was operating at the time of the parks creation as far as I know. Thus when Teal Jones took over the TFL the price it paid was reflective of the park boundary. Further more, they deforestation taking place now is (jokingly) in a Special Old Growth Management Area intended as a buffer zone for the park in the original negotiations. A clear distinction must be made as to how much Old Growth is left on the Vancouver Island. The Ministry will tell you it is 10% but this includes unproductive marsh, bog, mountain top which would likely never be “harvested” and only 3-4% productive (industry term) Valley Bottom Old Growth.
    If BC had but 10% of its salmon stocks left and 6%was chum and 3-4 % Sockeye and Spring what would/should the public do to preserve this depleting resource when the Liberal Government gives its blessing to continue to bow to corporate greed coupled with enviromental destruction?