Protesting forestry workers block road, claiming their jobs are threatened by old-growth deferrals
I RECENTLY CHECKED the Association of BC Forest Professionals job listings and while I didn’t count them all, there are approximately 100 listed. Likely several more that aren’t listed!
And ditto for jobs in most any profession. Employers can’t find enough people to fill all the jobs available. In the Boundary area, the local nurseries—who have a variety of jobs available—must bring in many temporary foreign workers every year because no local people want the available jobs. So the Mexicans return year after year and are happy to be well-employed.
The forestry industry’s pathetic mantra is that they must be allowed to continue extirpating BC’s remaining old-growth forests or the industry will lose another 20,000 jobs—or whatever number is their favourite for that day. So what happens when the old growth is gone? No forests and no jobs for sure! That doesn’t sound like a very good deal for anyone.
A close acquaintance of mine is a woods foreman for a lower mainland logging company; he absolutely cannot find employees to do any work and he has several job openings all the time.
If any forestry-related jobs are lost, they are easily replaced as there are many jobs available in the market place; the government has already dedicated millions of dollars to retrain anybody who wants to remain gainfully employed so they can do so. And there are similarly many dollars available for those who wish to take advantage of the early-retirement opportunities.
Fred Marshall is a forester and Woodlot Licence tenure holder in the Boundary region.
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
As more than 90 scientists working at the intersection of ecosystems and climate change, we are deeply concerned by the evidence of continued deforestation and degradation of primary forests globally and in Canada because of the resulting impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the biodiversity crisisi. Canada’s primary boreal and temperate forests have a vital role to play as natural climate solutions, and it is important that their protection is central to Canada’s climate and biodiversity policies.
The climate and biodiversity crises are inextricably linked and require solutions that address them in tandemii. Among the most urgent, critical solutions at the intersection of these crises is the protection of the world’s primary forests (those that have never been industrially disturbed and where natural processes prevail) and older forests, which have unique and irreplaceable ecological values and provide among the most effective, large-scale climate mitigation benefitsiii. Addressing the threat of climate change requires both the elimination of our dependence on fossil fuels and the preservation of the world’s primary and older (old growth and mature) forestsiv. In short, these forests are a critical lifeline to a safe climate as they sequester and store massive amounts of carbon, provide essential habitats, and often have high levels of biodiversity that provide unique natural solutions to both crises.
With the release of Canada’s 2030 Emission Reduction Plan this spring, we strongly recommend the Government of Canada use this opportunity to advance measures to protect primary forests and older forests, and to make their protection a key pillar of its natural climate solutions commitments. We further recommend that the Government of Canada commit to improve the accuracy and transparency of its national greenhouse gas emissions accounting for and reporting of emissions from its logging sectorv.
Primary forests have unique values and provide significant benefits for addressing the climate and biodiversity crises. These increasingly rare forests, which account for between approximately one- quartervi and one-thirdvii of forests globally, hold 30-50% more carbon per hectare than logged forests, and provide a continuing sink for carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasesviii, while also providing critical habitat for at-risk speciesix. Canada is the steward of a substantial proportion (~16%x) of the world’s remaining primary forests, with some of the last large stretches of these irreplaceable ecosystems found in its boreal forest, which contains globally significant stocks of ecosystem carbon.
When primary forests, whether in Canada or elsewhere, are logged they release significant amounts of carbon dioxide, exacerbating climate changexi. Because primary forest ecosystems store more carbon than secondary forests, replacing primary forests with younger stands, as Canada is doing, ultimately reduces the forest ecosystem’s overall carbon stocks, contributing to atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.
Even if a clearcut forest eventually regrows, it can take over a decade to return to being a net absorber of carbonxii, and the overall carbon debt in carbon stocks that were removed from older forests can take centuries to repay, a luxury we simply no longer havexiii. Recent studies also indicate that soil disturbance associated with logging results in large emissions of methane (CH4)xiv, a powerful greenhouse gas second only to CO2 in its climate forcing effects. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently concluded, we have under a decade to significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid exceeding 1.5 degrees C of warming, meaning any continued loss of primary forests erodes our remaining atmospheric carbon budget. Responding to the latest climate projections, UN Secretary General António Guterres’ issued a “code red emergency”xv. Importantly, the Glasgow Climate Pact (paragraph 38) emphasizes the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring nature and ecosystems to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goal, including through forests acting as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and by protecting biodiversityxvi.
Primary forests are also generally more resilient than logged forests to wildfiresxvii and other natural disturbances likely to worsen with the climate crisis. Notably, clearcutting and other intensive logging practices are often associated with more intense wildfiresxviii. Thus, achieving the most stable, resilient possible forest carbon stores requires protecting primary forests from industrial logging.
While we commend Canada for its commitment to natural climate solutions as a climate priority, we are concerned by the rate of continued industrial logging in primary forests from the boreal to coastal rainforests and the absence of a comprehensive primary forest protection policy. Replacement of these carbon-dense, biodiverse forests with lower-carbon, less biodiverse secondary forests is undermining global climate progress and contributing to the biodiversity crisis. In Canada, only 15 of 51 boreal caribou herds, which rely on primary and older forests, have sufficient habitat left to survive long-termxix. Additionally, only about a quarter of forests in British Columbia are old-growth and of these, only about 3% are highly productive with large treesxx.
We strongly encourage Canada to adopt policies that will incentivize protection of primary and older forests, particularly under the leadership of Indigenous Peoples and in accordance with Indigenous Peoples’ internationally recognized rights. Where Indigenous land rights are strong, ecosystems’ climate and biodiversity values tend to be better protected, and Indigenous Peoples’ meaningful participation and leadership is foundational to equitable and effective forest protection policies. We also encourage Canada to undertake a comprehensive review of its forest carbon accounting and quantification practices. Recent global studies have shown significant disparities between national greenhouse gas inventories and actual atmospheric emissions, most egregiously in the land sectorxxi. Given Canada’s large forest area and high logging rates, accurate forest emissions accounting is essential to ensuring the integrity of Canada’s overall climate goals. More accurate accounting and reporting will help ensure that Canada is properly valuing the climate benefit of its primary forests and the environmental costs of industrial logging.
The decisions Canada makes regarding its primary forests over the next few years will have profound ramifications for the global climate and biodiversity crises. Canada’s primary and older forests have a key role to play in preserving a safe and livable world, and the Government can make a significant contribution by prioritizing keeping these vital and irreplaceable ecosystems standing.
Note: Institutional affiliations listed for identification purposes only.
Dr. William Anderson
Professor Emeritus, College of Charleston
Dr. William L. Baker
Professor Emeritus of Geography, Program in Ecology, University of Wyoming
Dr. Bruce Baldwin
Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California - Berkeley
Dr. Jennifer Baltzer
Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change, Department of Biology, Wilfred Laurier University
Shannon Barber-Meyer, PhD
Linda Sue Barnes
Professor Emeritus, Methodist University
Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger Independent Scientist
Executive Director, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
Dr. Mary S. Booth
Director, Partnership for Policy Integrity
Dr. Richard Bradley
Associate Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
National Park Ranger (retired), Methow Conservancy
Dr. Philip Cafaro
Professor, Colorado State University
Director, Conservation Biology Institute
Director of Field Research, Conservation Biology Institute
Dr. Kai Chan
Professor and Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia
Dr. Terry Chapin
Professor Emeritus of Ecology, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Dr. Donald Charles
Senior Scientist, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Director, Conservation North
Dr. Kieran Cox
Liber Ero and NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow, Simon Fraser University
Dave Daust Independent Forester
Dr. Catherine de Rivera
Professor, Portland State University
Dr. Dominick Della Sala Chief Scientist, Wild Heritage
Wildlife Ecologist, Andean Tapir Fund
Jérôme Dupras Titulaire, Chaire de recherche du Canada en économie écologique, Université de Québec en Outaouais
Research Coordinator (retired), National Park Service
Dr. Lee Frelich
Director of the Center for Forest Ecology, University of Minnesota
Research Curator - Ornithology, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Professor Emeritus (Biology), University of Miami
Dr. Jon Grinnell
Uhler Chair in Biology, Gustavus Adolphus College
Dr. Charles Halpern
Research Professor, Emeritus, University of Washington
Dr. Kenneth Helms
Research Associate, University of Vermont
Director, Policy and Research, Wildlands League
Dr. Eric Higgs
Professor at the School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria
Dr. Bill Hilton Jr
Executive Director, Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History
Dr. Rachel F. Holt
Director, Veridian Ecological Consulting
Dr. Elizabeth Horvath
Associate Professor, Biology, Westmont College
Participatory Action Research Scientist, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Professor Emeritus of Soil and Plant Science, California State University - Chico
Dr. Jay Jones
Professor Emeritus of Biology and Biochemistry, University of La Verne
Dr. James R. Karr
Professor Emertius, University of Washington
Dr. Keith Kisselle
Associate Professor of Biology & Environmental Science, Austin College
Dr. Richard Kool
Professor at the School of Environment and Sustainability, Royal Roads University
Dr. Brian Linkhart
Professor of Biology, Colorado College
Dr. Brendan Mackey
Director - Climate Action Beacon, Griffith University
Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Jay Malcolm
Associate Professor, University of Toronto
Professor of Botany and Curator, STAR Herbarium, Arkansas State University
Dr. Tara Martin
Professor and Liber Ero Conservation Chair, University of British Columbia
Dr. Faisal Moola
Associate Professor - Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Guelph
Senior Scientist (retired)
Professor of Zoology, Weber State University
Research Curator, Natural History Museum of Utah, University of Utah
Dr. Katarzyna Nowak
Assistant Professor, Białowieża Geobotanical Station
Dr. Sarah Otto
Professor, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia
Dr. Paul Paquet
Senior Scientist, Raincoast Conservation Foundation
Dr. Timothy Pearce
Curator of Collections, Mollusks, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Dr. Stuart Pimm
Professor of Conservation Biology, Duke University
Dr. Jim Pojar
Trustee, Skeena Wild Conservation Trust
Dr. Roger Powell
Professor Emeritus, North Carolina State University
Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Montana
Dr. Karen Price
Member of BC Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel
Robert Pyle, Ph.D. and Hon. FRES Independent Scholar
Dr. Peter Quinby
Chair and Chief Scientist, Ancient Forest Exploration & Research
Dr. James Quinn
Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University
Dr. Jennifer Riddell University of California
Dr. George Robinson
Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences, University at Albany-SUNY
Dr. Holmes Rolston
Professor of Philosophy, University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University
Research Scholar, North Carolina State University
Nicanor Saliendra Ecologist, USDA ARS
Dr. Melissa Savage
Emerita Associate Professor, University of California Los Angeles
Dr. Hanno Schaefer
Professor, Technical University of Munich
Associate Professor, Miami University
Dr. Paula Schiffman
Professor of Biology, California State University – Northridge
Peter C. Schulze, PhD
Professor of Biology & Environmental Science, Austin College Center for Environmental Studies Director, Center for Environmental Studies
Director, Sneed Prairie Restoration
Dr. Suzanne Simard
Professor, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia
Dr. Tom Sisk
Professor Emeritus, Northern Arizona University
Dr. Risa Smith
Co-Chair, Protected Areas Climate Change Specialist Group at the World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Dr. Oliver Sonnentag
Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, Université de Montréal
Dan Spencer, PhD
Professor, Environmental Studies, The University of Montana
Dr. Timothy Spira
Emeritus Professor of Ecology/Botany, Clemson University
Dr. James Strittholt
President and Executive Director, Conservation Biology Institute
Dr. Michael Swift
Assistant Professor Emeritus, St. Olaf College
John Talberth, PhD
President and Senior Economist, Center for Sustainable Economy Co-Director, Forest Carbon Coalition
Dr. Sean Thomas
Professor and Canada Research Chair, Forests and Environmental Change at the University of Toronto
Dr. Edward Thornton University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Mathilde Tissier
Liber Ero Fellow, Bishop's University
Ornithologist (retired), US Fish and Wildlife Service
Dr. Vicki Tripoli
Science Advisory Board, Geos Institute
Dr. Walter Tschinkel
Professor Emeritus of Biological Science, Florida State University
Rick Van de Poll
Principal, Ecosystem Management Consultants
Professor Emeritus, University of California, Riverside
J.T. Curtis Professor (retired), University of Wisconsin - Madison
Dr. Glenn Walsberg
Professor Emeritus, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Dr. Vicki Watson
Professor Emeritus , University of Montana
Dr. Judith Weis
Professor Emerita, Rutgers University
Jeffrey Wells, PhD
Vice-President of Boreal Conservation, National Audubon Society
Peter Wood, PhD
Senior Corporate Campaigner, Canopy
CC: Minister Jonathan Wilkinson & Minister Steven Guilbeault
i Purvis, Andy., “A Million Threatened Species? Thirteen Questions and Answers,” IPBES, https://ipbes.net/news/million-threatened-species-thirteen-questions-answers.
ii W. Ripple et al., “The Climate Emergency: 2020 In Review,” Scientific American, 2021, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-climate-emergency-2020-in-review/. C.V. Barber et al., The Nexus Report: Nature Based Solutions to the Biodiversity and Climate Crisis, F20 Foundations, Campaign for Nature and SEE Foundation, https://www.foundations-20.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/The-Nexus-Report.pdf.
iii B. Mackey et al., “Policy Options for the World’s Primary Forests in Multilateral Environmental Agreements,” Conservation Letters, 8, 139-147, 2014, https://primaryforest.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Mackey-et-al-2014- Policy-Options-for-Worlds-Primary-Forests.pdf.
iv D.A. DellaSala et al. “Primary forests are undervalued in the climate emergency.” Bioscience 70, no. 6, 2020, https://scientists.forestry.oregonstate.edu/sites/sw/files/biaa030.pdf.
v T.W. Hudiburg et al., “Meeting GHG Reduction Targets Requires Accounting for All Forest Sector Emissions,” Enviro. Res. Letters, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab28bb.
vi D. Morales-Hidalgo et al., “Status and Trends in Global Primary Forest, Protected Areas, and Areas Designated for Conservation of Biodiversity from the Global Forest Resources Assessment,” Forest Ecology and Management, 352, 68-77, 2015, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112715003370.
vii B. Mackey et al., “Policy Options for the World’s Primary Forests in Multilateral Environmental Agreements,” Conservation Letters, 8, 139-147, 2014, https://primaryforest.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Mackey-et-al-2014-Policy-Options-for-Worlds-Primary-Forests.pdf.
viii S. Luyssaert et al. “Old-growth forests as global carbon sinks,” Nature, 455(7210), 213-215, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07276
ix D.A. DellaSala et al., “Primary Forests Are Undervalued in the Climate Emergency,” BioScience 70, no. 6, 2020, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341277924_Primary_Forests_Are_Undervalued_in_the_Climate_Emergency.
x Morales-Hidalgo, et al., “Status and Trends in Global Primary Forest, Protected Areas, and Areas Designated for Conservation of Biodiversity from the Global Forest Resources Assessment,” Forest Ecology and Management, 352, 68-77, 2015, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112715003370.
xi T.W. Hudiburg et al., “Meeting GHG Reduction Targets Requires Accounting for All Forest Sector Emissions,” Enviro. Res. Letters, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab28bb.
xii C. Coursolle et al., “Influence of stand age on the magnitude and seasonality of carbon fluxes in Canadian forests,” Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 165, no 15, 2012, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168192312002109; W.A. Kurz et al., “Carbon in Canada’s Boreal Forest—A Synthesis, ” Environmental Review 21, no. 4, 2013, https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/er- 2013-0041.
xiii B. Mackey et al., “Untangling the Confusion Around Land Carbon Science and Climate Change Mitigation Policy,” Nature Climate Change, June 2013, www.nature.com/natureclimatechange.
xiv J. Vantellingen and S.C. Thomas. “Skid trail effects on soil methane and carbon dioxide flux in a selection- managed northern hardwood forest”. Ecosystems, 24, 1402-1421, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-020-00591- 8. J. Vantellingen and S.C. Thomas, S.C. “Log Landings Are Methane Emission Hotspots in Managed Forests,” Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 51, 1916-1925, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2021-0109.
xv United Nations, “Secretary-General Calls Latest IPCC Climate Report ‘Code Red for Humanity’, Stressing ‘Irrefutable’ Evidence of Human Influence, press release, Aug. 9, 2021, https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sgsm20847.doc.htm.
xvi Glasgow Climate Pact https://unfccc.int/documents/310497.
xvii C.M. Bradley et al., “Does Increased Forest Protection Correspond to Higher Fire Severity in Frequent-Fire Forests of the Western United States?” Ecosphere 7:1-13, 2016, https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ecs2.1492#:~:text=We%20found%20no%20evidence% 20to,linear%20mixed%2Deffects%20modeling%20approaches.
xviii C. Stone et al, “Forest Harvest Can Increase Subsequent Forest Fire Severity,” Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Fire Economics, Planning, and Policy: A Global View, 2004,
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1198&context=usdafsfacpub. J.R. Thompson, et al,, “Reburn Severity in Managed and Unmanaged Vegetation in a Large Wildfire,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104, no. 25, 20746, June 19, 2007, https://www.pnas.org/content/104/25/10743.
xix ECCC, Amended Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal Population, in Canada 2020, Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series, 2020, https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk- registry/virtual_sara/files/plans/Rs-CaribouBorealeAmdMod-v01- 2020Dec-Eng.pdf.
xx K. Price et al., “Conflicting Portrayals of Remaining Old Growth: The British Columbia Case,” Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 2021, https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/full/10.1139/cjfr-2020-0453.
xxi G. Grassi et al., “Critical Adjustment of Land Mitigation Pathways for Assessing Countries’ Climate Progress,” Nature 11, 2021, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01033-6. C. Mooney et al., “Countries’ Climate Pledges Built on Flawed Data, Post Investigation Finds,” The Washington Post, Nov. 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/interactive/2021/greenhouse-gas-emissions-pledges-data/.
TODAY’S THRONE SPEECH started by acknowledging the heatwave, fires and floods of 2021 but didn’t offer assurances that this BC government is ready to do its part to prevent even worse disasters in the future.
In the speech, the province claimed it has set strong climate targets and that it has a plan that builds on progress towards meeting said targets. Both claims are not true. BC’s targets are not consistent with what is needed if we are to have a chance at meeting the Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming below 1.5 to 2 degrees. To make matters worse, BC’s emissions have increased every single year for the last five years that we have records for, from 2015 to 2019. And by subsidizing and welcoming the construction of LNG Canada and the Coastal GasLink pipeline, it is almost certain that BC. will not be able to meet its 2025, 2030, 2040 or 2050 targets. To protect future generations, these projects must be stopped.
The Throne speech acknowledged the role of protecting forests as another key to tackling climate change but fell short on concrete steps to deliver the implementation of all recommendations made by the Old Growth Panel, a key election promise made by Premier Horgan in the fall of 2020. Close to 18 months later, most at-risk old-growth forests in BC remain without temporary or permanent protection.
Indigenous Nations and forestry dependent communities remain uncertain as to whether the province will provide adequate funding to support them through the necessary transition. It is not too late for the province to include much needed funding to enable Indigenous-led conservation solutions and support forestry workers in the 2022 budget announcement later this month.
The throne speech also announced the launch of a new ministry in the coming months to improve stewardship of lands and make the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act a reality. A new ministry may well serve these goals, but nothing will change without the political will to respect the rights of all Indigenous Nations, including those that oppose new fossil fuel pipeline projects through their territory like the Wet’suwet’en.
The province can demonstrate its commitment to responsible stewardship by enacting Species-At-Risk or Biodiversity legislation, by addressing the missing recommendations on professional reliance reform, by implementing all of the recommendations from the Old-Growth Panel and following through on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, with or without a new ministry.
Jens Wieting is Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner for Sierra Club BC.
An open letter to John Horgan, Katrine Conroy and Nathan Cullen
AS WE EMBARK ON A NEW YEAR the following items should be at the top of your forestry-related agenda. What we (actually you, as our representatives) do during 2022 relative to our forests, will have profound and likely irreversible affects on the status and future well-being of our forests and related resources. I therefore hope you will approach several items that need addressing in a logical, timely and somewhat sequential manner that ensures all aspects will be appropriately dealt with.
1. Formally protecting additional areas
The overall goal for BC’s formally dedicated protected areas should be in line with, and complement, the federal goal of having 30 percent of Canada formally protected by 2030. As BC is, by far, the most ecologically diverse province in Canada, the protected area goal for it should be at least 40 percent and preferably 50 percent.
The federal government has made available $2.3 billion to enable the attainment of the 30-30 goal. BC should apply for at least $1 billion, and likely more, to assist them in reaching their 40-50 percent goal. Such funds can be used, at least in part, to compensate those forest licensees who lose allowable annual cut (AAC) via the tenure take-back process.
All areas to be protected must be selected and designated as being formally protected before the other items listed below can be addressed.
In this regard, a formal protected area strategy should be developed for BC to ensure the areas to be protected meet the appropriate criteria for same (i.e. old-growth areas—or those with other high values such as being a rare or endangered ecosystem, etc).
The upper Argonaut Valley (Photo: Eddie Petryshen)
2. Taking back AAC from forest licensees
The province should determine how much area and associated AAC should be taken back from the forest licensees based on the areas required (i.e. timber harvesting land base (THLB) or non-THLB areas) to achieve the 40-50 percent protected area goal and the new provincial AAC reallocations.
The provincial government should use an incentive-based system, at least in part, to determine who should contribute what amount of AAC to the take-back volume.
For example, the major forest companies and the BC government have long promised to “add value” to the logs they harvest. However, with few exceptions, the large forest companies have done nothing meaningful in this respect. Rather, they have used their profits made in BC to “add-value” to their profit statements and to purchase sawmills elsewhere. For example, Interfor, one of the largest forest companies in BC, has only 18 percent of its total forestry-related investments located in BC, while 82 percent are located elsewhere. And it derives its BC profits solely via manufacturing dimensional lumber. This is not a value-added product.
However, several of the smaller BC forest companies have spent millions of dollars to truly add value to the logs they harvest. For example, Gorman Brothers of Westbank have long produced 1-inch lumber and use finger-jointing to manufacture regular boards out of very short pieces of lumber which would otherwise be wasted. Kalesnikoff Lumber, located in the south Slocan, recently built a new structure-lam plant which is now in full production. Atco Forest Products, located in Fruitvale, recently added a small-log peeler line to their large-log peeler line and hence add significant value to very low-value logs. All three of these companies are relatively small with both Gorman’s and Kalesnikoff’s being family-owned.
Gorman, Kalesnikoff, Atco and other companies in BC that have similarly added value to their sawlog inventory should be appropriately recognized for doing so by being exempt from any AAC take-back obligations.
Those who have not should bear the full brunt of the AAC take-back process.
Laminated beams produced by Kalesnikoff Lumber (Photo: Kalesnikoff Lumber)
3. Reallocating the AAC take-back volumes
Once the areas designated to be formally protected have been removed from the THLB, then the remaining AAC volumes should be allocated as per the following, or some permutation or combination thereof:
Indigenous Allocations: 20 percent
Community Forests & Woodlots: 20 percent
BCTS (preferably via TFLs): 20 percent
Forest Licensees (preferably TFLs): 40 percent
All should be area-based tenures; non-area-based forest licences should be phased out as they do not support the sustainability principle. The AAC reallocation should facilitate and hasten the end of the US countervail duties.
4. New landscape-level planning
The ministry needs to commit to and implement, in a timely manner, a new landscape-level planning regime across BC that is inherently designed to be truly sustainable.
As this is a relatively new undertaking, due care must be taken to develop the parameters (i.e. the size of the planning areas, criteria for boundary locations, regulations relevant to the various areas and the associated objectives for each, etc., must all be determined ahead of time).
Criteria for how existing tenures may—or should be—modified (boundaries, obligations, names, AAC, etc.) also need to be developed. Perhaps only three main tenure forms should exist—i.e. TFLs, Woodland Licences and Community Forest Licences.
As new forest stewardship plans and TFL management plans etc. are being developed, the approval of them for a five-year or longer term complicates the transition process that will enable these existing tenures to transition into the new landscape-level planning regime.
5. Revise the timber supply review (TSR) AAC determination process
The TSR AAC determination process must be revised to support the above and ensure that all future AAC’s in BC are truly sustainable. This process has long been outdated and is unsuitable for current and future conditions. A three-person panel should be appointed to review this process and make recommendations for change so that it is responsive to rapidly changing conditions and to the new forest tenure and landscape-planning regimes.
In the interim, any TSR AAC determinations completed should only be approved if the new indicated AAC remains the same or less than that as per the previous AAC. It is well known that the current TSR process is designed and utilized to keep the cut as high as possible for as long as possible. This is via the several growth and yield curves and associated algorithms used within the process which focus the harvest on the mature and over-mature (i.e. old growth) stands. As these stands are harvested (liquidated) the AAC automatically drops. Obviously the TSR process in BC does not result in any semblance of forest sustainability; rather, an increasingly unstainable one.
These trends are further enabled by the chief forester’s refusal to use the Precautionary Principle in the TSR process to allow for expected future changes i.e. those caused by or related to climatic factors such as floods, fires and/or disease and/or insect outbreaks. And this even though we know the future circumstances will be much different than the present or recent past. As soon as reasonably possible after the new process has been developed, any AACs completed via the interim process which involves no AAC increases, will be redone via the new process.
Flooding in Princeton BC in November 2021
6. Zero Net Deforestation policy
The long-standing, proposed Zero Net Deforestation policy for BC must be implemented. This policy has been held in limbo and in-the-queue waiting for several years to be made legal and this must now be done.
Implementing such legislation fully supports and strengthens the concept and commitment to manage our forests in a sustainable manner. Without such legislation BC’s forest lands, and specifically the THLB, will continue to shrink at an unacceptable rate. This is obviously not in concert with the principles of sustainability.
7. Consultation and collaboration with all relevant indigenous groups
Appropriate consultation and collaboration with all relevant Indigenous groups must be undertaken. This is self evident; however an acceptable process to facilitate respectful engagement by all parties still needs to be developed.
As you develop regulations to complement your new forestry-related legislation, you must ensure that such regulations duly consider all of the above so all are appropriately addressed and subsequently implemented in a logical, progressive manner.
As we well know, everything in nature is connected; hence all policies related to any aspect of nature are also intricately linked and therefore must be well coordinated.
Professional forester Fred Marshall was one of the founders of both the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations and the Wood Product Development Council (WPDC). He has also served as federation president and was president of the Boundary Woodlot Association. Fred holds a master’s degree in forestry from Yale, has taught at both Malaspina and Selkirk Colleges and has developed four university-level courses accredited by the ABCFP. He and wife Jane operate a ranch and woodlot near Midway.
The NDP government's tinkering with forest legislation is designed solely for the benefit of the logging industry.
BC Premier John Horgan is reinforcing privatization and overuse of forests on BC Crown land
IN NOVEMBER 2021, the BC government passed Bill 23, the “Forests Statutes Amendment Act,” claiming to revamp forest policy by putting “environment” and “people” first. Considering the wretched condition of BC forests, damaged by disease, fire, and the abusive practices of industrial logging, nothing could be more welcome than a change of policy in line with current ecological realities. For years, in fact for decades, those who love BC forests have longed for such an awakening. But does Bill 23 get us what we longed for?
The greatest part of the amendments refer to the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), involving scrupulous tweaking of vocabulary and protocols around landscape planning, permitting and roading – all in the interest of timber extraction. The Bill neither updates nor consolidates the current patchwork of BC forestry laws in the Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) portfolio, nor does it make any clear, effective statutory statement in favour of the public interest.
Overall, the issues that BC citizens most care about are not addressed in Bill 23.
There is no mention of tenure reform. Crown lands, our provincial commons, remain de facto privatized by logging companies whose only goal is profit.
No innovative logging practices are required of industry. The antiquated and devastating method of clearcutting remains firmly in place (the cheapest method), as well as monoculture for replanting and chemical spraying, rather than an enlightened eco-forestry approach.
No protection of old growth from further logging and from BC Timber Sales affecting old growth areas.
No change regarding raw log exports.
No changes to prevailing allowable annual cut (AAC) determinations; no concern about actual sustainability of forest resources.
No mention of carbon emissions from industrial logging or obligations regarding effects on climate change, i.e., no mitigation, no restoration-strategies, no decarbonisation.
No reference to the input of science; no concern for biodiversity; no protection of species-at-risk; no reference to habitat loss caused by clearcutting (couldn’t anywhere locate the word habitat, as forests contain nothing but timber).
No protection of watersheds; no protection of water itself; no concern for flooding, drought, soil erosion or pollution of water caused by inept logging.
Continued adherence to the much-criticized and morally compromised Profession Reliance Model that empowers RPFs employed by logging companies to make site choices and draw up cutting-plans.
No legislated process for community input before cutting plans are approved and no legal right of challenge by local residents directly impacted by such plans.
NOTE: In Bill 23, there is a significant expansion of executive powers devoid of opportunity to comment on new regulations or orders before they are issued. Also, with all the fine talk about Indigenous participation in forest planning, final decisions are firmly in the grip of the chief forester. Indigenous parties are welcome to take their objections to court.
The expanded governmental executive power will impinge on the fundamental rights of all BC citizens, First Nations, and members of the press, who are no longer free (without permission from the Ministry) to set foot on roads located on Crown land in order to monitor the activities of industry, whether pipelines, transmission lines, road builders, or police enforcement operations.
Considering the above review, are we to believe that Bill 23 revamps forest policy so as to put “environment” and “people” first?
On the contrary, Bill 23 is a set of amendments designed solely for the benefit of the timber industry. Its saccharine promises, directed at a naïve public, is meant to say: “Now go back to sleep, honey, we’ll take care of everything.”
Van Andruss is a Bioregionalist who lives with his family in the Yalakom Valley. He is co-author of Home: A Bioregional Reader, The Life of Fred Brown, and a series of BC place-oriented anthologies called Lived Experience.
The massive project to replace BC's primary forests with plantations and managed forests has great costs associated with it. Who should pay for the damage being done?
Merritt flooded in November after heavy—but not record-breaking—rains. Widespread clearcutting in the Coldwater watershed was likely a major contributor to the flooding.
THE FOREST LICENSEES—including BC Timber Sales—who created the extensive network of clearcuts across BC should be held liable for the major portion of the ensuing flood damage experienced. The same ought to apply to late-summer droughts with their associated damage and related costs. And an assessment of liability for the growing number of large forest fires in BC’s southern Interior needs to be made as well.
It is a basic moral and ethical tenet that one who creates chaos with subsequent damage occurring, is responsible, and can and should be held accountable for it.
Unfortunately the current governments, at all levels, don’t subscribe to this tenet. So far, the forest licensees refuse to acknowledge that there is any, let alone a definitive, link between the extensive clearcuts dominating BC’s forested landscape and the subsequent floods and summer droughts. And the provincial government blithely accepts this and does the same. Many credible studies show otherwise.
As most people are likely aware, a small group of Grand Forks residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against the major forest licensees in the Boundary area, claiming restitution for flood damages incurred in 2018. (See document at end of story). Hopefully, the outcome of this lawsuit will correct the forest licensee oversight and claims of innocence. Perhaps the residents and communities of Princeton and Merritt and the agriculture producers located nearby should file a similar lawsuit. There is strength in numbers.
And, because of this very irresponsible and untenable stance by the forest licensees, the process of creating such clearcuts continues unabated across BC today, and will continue tomorrow and into the future at virtually the same rate, or very closes thereto, as it has in the past. At least until all the old growth is gone. And this process is strongly supported by the government.
All credible predictions indicate that there will be more episodic weather events accompanied by, or followed closely by, extreme winds, flood and drought events in the near future. Very likely these events will be even more intense than those recently experienced.
We all need to convince the BC Government to reduce the allowable annual cut with the attendant extensive clearcuts created also being reduced. In spite of the fact that—as we all know—we subsidize the forest industry (e.g. via the Forest Enhancement funds etc. etc.) as the provincial government continues to pay out millions to billions of dollars to repair all the damage caused by the floods and subsequent droughts. One might call these “hidden” or “indirect” subsidies but, nonetheless, they are still subsidies. A recent estimate put the costs of the damage caused by the recent floods and those to replace and/or repair the losses and damages to be ~ $30 billion dollars! That basically bankrupts BC. If there’s no money in the bank, how will any future such events be “handled”?
A information bulletin (see attached document at end of story) on how to make damage claims for flood damage was recently sent out to all ranchers and agriculture producers experiencing flood damage. This form directs them on how to get government to pay them for the damages experienced. This represents an obvious form of subsidies to the forestry and agriculture industries, of whom the cattle ranchers have always been favoured recipients.
Ditto for the dikes, roads and bridges being fixed, for which the taxpayers of BC will pay. However, a good part of the costs incurred should be paid for by the forest licensees. Yet they claim innocence and the provincial government blithely agrees with them. More willful blindness!
I and several other people have long been asking the government to conduct a formal review of the TSR process as it is seriously flawed and needs mega changes.
There are four major issues that the results of this process inherently legitimize and hence enable. These are:
The creation of the extensive clearcuts that dominate BC’s landscape today—and which are increasing every day.
The construction of an extensive and ever expanding road system to enable the harvesting/clearcutting. There are already close to 700,000 km of resource roads in BC today with more being added daily.
The focusing of harvesting on old-growth stands, which results in their rapid extirpation. However, doing so keeps BC’s allowable annual cut at an unsustainable level, albeit for a relatively short time. Certainly a zero-sum game.
All of the above are enabled by the timber supply review process. This enabling, as long as it is in play, will determine the future status of BC’s forests and all related resources. Based on past and current experiences, with no meaningful changes in the timber supply review process, the future of BC’s forests is extremely bleak. BC’s forests will, in the future, undoubtedly not be near as healthy, as resilient or as productive as they were or are, even at present. Their present status is obviously not good.
As per Einstein’s famous saying: “We cannot keep doing what we have been doing and expect to get different results.”
Clearcuts and plantations upstream from Grand Forks in the Kettle River Valley
This obviously applies to the timber supply review process (1). Nonetheless, the several requests made to the premier, the relevant deputy and assistant deputy ministers related to forests to conduct a formal review of this process and subsequently change it, have all been denied.
If we continue harvesting our forests and building ever more roads to enable this harvesting there is no question that we will experience the following:
Increased frequency of abnormal climatic events: Wind storms, rain storms with attendant flood damage, fall droughts with extensive damage to aquatic ecosystems and loss of agriculture crops due to flooding and irrigation restrictions and increasing tree mortality due to insects, diseases and drought stress etc.
Loss of transportation infrastructure causing undue harm to everyone in BC due to inability to reach medical facilities, attend to emergencies, to feed and care for livestock, to reduce shortages of food and other essential items.
Enormous costs, in the billions of dollars—and rising, required to repair the flood damage and to cover the costs of goods (homes, buildings, fences etc.) damaged or destroyed. We don’t have the financial capability to properly attend to the above.
Continued conflict with the Indigenous groups across BC
A general breakdown in society due to all of the above.
Even if we significantly reduce our allowable annual cut immediately, because of the already degraded state of our forests and impending climatic events, we will continue to experience many of the above effects well into the future. Nonetheless, undertaking a formal review of the timber supply review process and subsequently making significant changes to it is far better done sooner than later. Such undertaking is already, and very obviously, far overdue.
Professional forester Fred Marshall was one of the founders of both the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations and the Wood Product Development Council (WPDC). He has also served as federation president and was president of the Boundary Woodlot Association. Fred holds a master’s degree in forestry from Yale, has taught at both Malaspina and Selkirk Colleges and has developed four university-level courses accredited by the ABCFP. He and wife Jane operate a ranch and woodlot near Midway.
1. For example. The just released (Dec. 14, 2021) TSR AAC Determination for TFL 33 indicated an increase in the AAC from 21,000M3 to 23,160M3, a 10% increase. An increase that is largely attributable to the inherent focus of the TSR process to maintain or increase the AAC and, the Chief Forester’s refusal to appropriately use the Precautionary Principle which ignores expected and imminent climatic events.
Notice of Civil Claim - FILED Interfor BCTS lawsuit in Boundary TSA.pdf
The logging industry's "solution" to forest fires will make them worse
The growing extent of clearcuts and plantations in BC is resulting in larger forest fires (BC Wildfire Service photo)
IN ADVOCATING FASTER CLEARCUT LOGGING to deal with out-of-control wildfires, the forest industry and its advocates ignore the fundamental reasons for the Okanagan region turning into a tinderbox. The industry’s prescription of “chainsaw medicine” to remedy the situation will only make matters worse.
Three key reasons that have turned the Okanagan into a tinderbox fueling the megafires of today are: fire suppression, the rate of clearcutting and global warming.
Decades of fire suppression and prohibition of indigenous, traditional “cold burns” have allowed dead fuel to accumulate.
The rate of clearcutting results in ever-increasing expanses of dry soil and woody debris and in vast areas of young plantations less than 25 years old. Scientists Meg Krawchuk and Steve Cumming tell us that fire ignition by lightning is more likely to occur in a clearcut than it would in the forest that the clearcut replaced.
Young plantations are highly flammable and contribute to the rate of spread of recent large fires. Together, clearcuts and young plantations are the driver of recent megafires made worse by global heating.
Scattered parks, a few protected areas, and remaining old-growth forests are not the problem. In fact, they are part of the solution, being relatively fire-resistant and storing large amounts of carbon when compared to the flammability of clearcuts and young plantations.
The forest industry would have us increase the rate of clearcutting under its fear-mongering mantra of “cut it down or let it burn.” This reasoning is bewildering because, if true, all BC’s magnificent forests would have burned millennia ago.
The forest industry uses every crisis—whether it be insect infestations, tree diseases, or wildfire—to advance its agenda of increasing the rate of clearcutting (profit) with no regard for the social, economic and environmental consequences of its self-serving actions.
Those consequences include, among many others: An increase in the frequency, magnitude and duration of major floods, severe droughts and mega-fires, contaminated drinking water, biodiversity loss, destruction of property, smoke-induced health issues, and death of domestic animals—all directly or indirectly related to clearcutting, and made worse by global heating.
But global heating itself is made worse by clearcutting. In fact, wildfires in BC have increased in size, frequency, duration, and intensity so dramatically that they, together with clearcut logging, now exceed fossil fuels as the province’s major source of climate-destabilizing carbon.
So industrial forestry is feeding a deadly cycle: clearcut logging worsens wildfire, which in turn exacerbates global heating, which intensifies wildfire. We need to break this cycle of destruction and death.
Climate change is the defining issue of our times. Within a societal context, our choice is between life and money. Within the context of BC forestry, the choice is between profit (driven by clearcutting) and community safety and health driven by a new paradigm of forest management based on ecology and conservation.
Taryn Skalbania is a farmer in the Okanagan valley. Severe wildfires forced Taryn to evacuate her farm in 2017, 2018 and 2021. She spent much of the 2021 fire season providing a safe haven for animals from neighbouring farms threatened by megafire. Many farm animals were not so fortunate and had to be shot. Taryn is a co-founder of the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance with which she is presently the director of outreach.
BC logging practices are increasing fire hazard and destabilizing our climate
A forest fire in a clearcut on Vancouver Island. It’s going to get much worse unless the rate of logging is reduced in BC. (BC Wildfire Service photo)
ANTHONY BRITNEFF’S astounding statements in “There’s an urgent need to reduce BC’s logging industry,” should be shouted from the rooftops: “wildfires … together with logging, now exceed fossil fuels as the province’s major source of climate-destabilizing carbon.” He also points out that the British Columbia government’s carbon accounting ignores “carbon emissions from logging and wildfire.”
During the record-shattering late June heat dome, Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver said, “We ain’t seen nothing yet. This is chump change compared to where we are heading.”
Had the world’s governments heeded climate change warnings in the 1980s and 1990s, we wouldn’t be in our present dire predicament, which makes the next few years critical if we are to have a chance to prevent runaway global warming.
In the words of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the August 2021 Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) constitutes a “code red for humanity.” Since the first IPCC report in 1990, “annual global emissions have nearly doubled, and the amount of carbon in the atmosphere put there by humans has more than doubled,” according to The New Yorker. That magazine also described one of five possible futures considered by the IPCC’s most recent report as “a not-at-all-implausible scenario [in which] temperatures will rise by 3.6 degrees Celsius –or 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit—by around 2090.”
But other voices are expressing concern that the report is too conservative in its projections. Greta Thunberg calls it a “solid (but cautious) summary of the current best available science.” Based, in part, on the Job One for Humanity website, psychotherapist, author, and activist Jonathan Gustin maintains that temperatures will rise 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 and 14 or more degrees by 2100. He also says IPCC projections don’t include feedback loops such as methane “burbs.”
In December 2004, the Baltimore Sun reported, “There are enormous quantities of naturally occurring greenhouse gasses trapped in ice-like structures in the cold northern muds and at the bottom of the seas. These ices, called clathrates, contain 3,000 times as much methane as is in the atmosphere…. A temperature increase of merely a few degrees would cause these gases to volatilize and ‘burp’ into the atmosphere, which would further raise temperatures, which would release yet more methane, heating the Earth and seas further, and so on…. Once triggered, this cycle could result in runaway global warming the likes of which even the most pessimistic doomsayers aren’t talking about.” As a greenhouse gas, methane is many times stronger than carbon dioxide; Gustin says it’s 86 times more potent. He adds that “a full summer arctic ice melt” could trigger a massive methane release and that such an arctic ice melt could occur as soon as five years from now.
Given how acutely imperilled human civilization is, the answers to the questions Britneff poses should be a resounding “yes” in both cases.
Yes, it is “in the public interest to ban clearcutting and substantially lower the allowable annual cut, thereby reducing the export of raw logs and forest products and cutting back the labour force in the forest sector.”
Yes, we should transition “40,000 forestry jobs into non-destructive forest and value-added enterprises, and into other economic sectors in order to mitigate a global climate emergency.”
A mid-August forest fire in a clearcut spreads to nearby forest in BC’s Interior (BC Wildfire Service photo)
In an earlier commentary, “How to protect forest-dependent communities”, Britneff advocated revamping the current working forest or tenure system, taking control of public forests away from “an oligopoly of multinational corporations,” and placing it instead “in the hands of local forest trusts.”
Will the BC government act or will it, like so many governments, persist in dragging its feet as it bows down to the status quo? Refusing to seriously engage with the consequences of climate change is like refusing to vote or get vaccinated, all of which are passive ways “of empowering the status quo.” Such refusals are increasing the likelihood of unimaginable catastrophe.
Inspired by the urgent example of Greta Thunberg, Patrick Wolfe has been writing about climate change since January 2019. He is the author of the forthcoming book, A Snake on the Heart – History, Mystery, and Truth: The Entangled Journeys of a Biographer and His Nazi Subject.
Report card raises alarm about predatory delay contributing to climate and extinction crises, lack of support for First Nations and forestry reforms, fuelling Canada’s biggest act of civil disobedience.
Click the report card to enlarge:
Press release from Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and Wilderness Committee:
VICTORIA (Unceded Lekwungen Territories) — One year after the B.C. government shared its Old-Growth Strategic Review (OGSR) report and Premier John Horgan committed to implementing all of the panel’s recommendations, Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and Wilderness Committee have released a report card assessing the province’s progress on their promise to protect old-growth forests.
The OGSR’s report, made public on September 11, 2020, called on the province to work with Indigenous governments to transform forest management within three years.
The panel recommendations include taking immediate action to protect at-risk old-growth forests and a paradigm shift away from a focus on timber value and towards safeguarding biodiversity and the ecological integrity of all forests in B.C. However, old-growth-related headlines in recent months have been dominated by police violence and arrests of forest defenders, rather than protection. As of this week, with at least 866 arrests, the fight to save what is left is now Canada's biggest ever act of civil disobedience.
“The tough reality is that thousands of hectares of the endangered forests that Premier Horgan promised to save a year ago have been cut down since then,” said Torrance Coste, national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee. “We’ve seen pitifully little concrete action to protect threatened old-growth, and ecosystems and communities are paying the price for the BC NDP government’s heel-dragging.”
In their report card, the organizations issued new grades on the B.C. government’s progress in five key areas, crucial for the implementation of the panel recommendations: immediate action for at-risk forests (F), the development of a three-year work plan with milestone dates (D), progress on changing course and prioritizing ecosystem integrity and biodiversity (F), funding for implementation, First Nations and forestry transition (D), and transparency and communication (F).
“Our assessment is as devastating as a fresh old-growth clearcut. The ongoing ‘talk and log’ situation combined with police violence and the escalating climate and extinction crisis can only be described as predatory delay,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “Premier Horgan’s failure to keep his promise has now fuelled the largest act of civil disobedience in Canada’s history, larger than Clayoquot Sound, with no end in sight. People know that clearcutting the last old-growth is unforgivable”
“In the last six months, the B.C. government has failed to allocate any funding toward protecting old-growth, instead funnelling millions into police enforcement to clear a path for old-growth logging,” said Andrea Inness, forest campaigner for the Ancient Forest Alliance. “Without funding to support old-growth protection, the BC NDP government is forcing communities to make the impossible choice between revenue and conservation. They’re choosing inaction while the conflict in B.C.’s forests worsens.”
In July, the province created a technical expert panel to inform the next announcement of old-growth deferral areas. Repeated government remarks about new deferrals in the summer, that are yet to be announced, have sparked a glimmer of hope for science-based interim protection for all at-risk old-growth forests in B.C. in the near future.
Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee will continue to mobilize their tens of thousands of supporters and hold the government accountable for its old-growth promises. The next report card will be issued on March 11, 2022.
Edited September 9 by admin
Logging in BC releases immense quantities of carbon emissions, degrades needed ecosystem services, destroys habitat for at-risk wildlife and creates conditions that allow larger and more intense forest fires. It’s time to downsize the industry to a level that meets BC’s own needs and no more.
All large forest fires in BC involve many thousands of acres of clearcuts and plantations, both of which have a higher fire hazard rating than primary and mature forest (Photo: BC Wildfire Service)
JOBS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA’S FOREST SECTOR have become a talisman exploited by the forest industry and its associations in persuading politicians of the importance of the sector to the provincial economy.
As forestry jobs have steadily declined, industry lobbyists like the Council of Forest Industries, Resource Works and the Truck Loggers’ Association have become increasingly creative in overstating the contribution of the forest sector to the provincial economy by, for example, inflating job numbers with indirect jobs. If Statistics Canada were to count jobs this way, we would have many more jobs than there are residents in the province.
Between the years 2000 and 2019, the forest sector of British Columbia shed 50,000 direct jobs largely due to mechanization and depletion of old growth forests. About the same number—50,000—remain, mostly in manufacturing.
So let’s question the talisman. Is it that ridiculous to shed the remaining number of direct forestry jobs in the woods and manufacturing by, say, 40,000? Perhaps not. Let’s examine some of the compelling reasons for a reduced workforce in forestry:
Tree cover loss expressed as area per capita is greater in BC than in most forested countries of the world; greater than in Brazil, Indonesia and Russia. This rate and extent of clearcut logging has a large carbon footprint. The prevalence of highly flammable clearcuts and young plantations (less than 25 years) has become a significant driver of the size of wildfires…the mega fires of recent years that destroy homes and impact air quality so badly that our health is endangered, including the spread of COVID.
In fact, wildfires in BC have increased in size and intensity so dramatically that they, together with logging, now exceed fossil fuels as the province’s major source of climate-destabilizing carbon. You won’t find this in the provincial government’s carbon accounting because it has deftly chosen to ignore carbon emissions from logging and wildfire.
Consequences of clearcut logging more familiar to the reader include: the loss of the little remaining old-growth forests growing in ecosystems rich in biodiversity; the destruction of fish and wildlife habitat (salmon, caribou and grizzlies); and the relentless extermination and extirpation of animals, plants and fungi.
In many ways, climate change in BC is all about water. Here, clearcutting is instrumental in contaminating the drinking water for many rural communities; in depleting groundwater causing more frequent and prolonged drought events; and, of huge concern to the residents of Grand Forks and the Okanagan Valley, in increasing the frequency, magnitude and duration of major flood events.
The excessive rate of clearcutting is permitted by a grossly inflated allowable annual cut (AAC). But the question is: to what end? Only 20 percent of the forest products derived from clearcutting are destined for our domestic market. The remaining 80 percent satisfies export markets mostly in the United States, China and Japan—all of which have higher standards for the conservation and protection of old-growth forests than does BC. This means that those three countries are conserving their ecosystems at the expense of the degradation and loss of our ecosystems.
In spite of the high level of exports of forest products, the forest sector contributes a meagre two per cent to the provincial gross domestic product (GDP) and only two per cent to the provincial labour force. In other words, our provincial economy is sufficiently robust and resilient to absorb further job losses in forestry and reduced exports of raw logs and forest products.
Accordingly, would it not be in the public interest to ban clearcutting and substantially lower the allowable annual cut thereby reducing the export of raw logs and forest products and cutting back the labour force in the forest sector?
If we as a society in BC can shed 400,000 jobs in two months of 2020 to deal with a global pandemic, is it that ridiculous to transition, say, 40,000 forestry jobs into non-destructive forest and value-added enterprises and into other economic sectors in order to mitigate a global climate emergency already having such profound consequences for BC's environment and residents?
Anthony Britneff worked for the BC Forest Service for 40 years holding senior professional positions in inventory, silviculture and forest health.
Professional forester calls for an end to clearcutting in BC and a reduction of the allowable annual cut to less than half its current level.
A clearcut in the Prince George area (Photo by Sean O’Rourke, Conservation North)
AS A REGISTERED PROFESSIONAL FORESTER, I have received many email invitations from the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) promoting a “Free E-course” which purportedly will explain my profession’s Code of Ethical and Professional Conduct. Ethical behaviour and professionalism are not taught. They are inherent values of honest, compassionate, and thoughtful individuals. The ABCFP would do better to address the endemic problems of forestry that are exacerbating both the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis than to give the illusion of ethical professionalism.
The Code of Ethical & Professional Conduct states, in part under Section 2, Independence: “Registrants exhibit objectivity and are professionally independent in fact and appearance, and must: a. uphold the public interest and professional principles above the demands of employment or personal gain…”
Nothing could be more important and essential to upholding the public interest than acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and to slow loss of biodiversity. Yet, standard industrial forestry practices of clearcuts and short-rotation tree plantations do the exact opposite.
Industrial forestry degrades water and watersheds through the destruction of old, intact primary forests that produce the highest quality water in moderate flows, and the destruction or removal of fallen trees that store and filter water. These same old, primary forests are necessary to conserve water, particularly under the stresses of heat and moisture loss that get progressively worse with global heating. The fallen trees build future moisture- and nutrient-sufficient soils.
Old-growth forests are critical storehouses of carbon, sequester the most carbon compared to other forest phases, produce the highest quality water, and harbour the highest levels of biological diversity, including specialist species found nowhere else. Not to mention the vital cultural importance of these forests to Indigenous people, and to a growing number of non-Indigenous people.
Yet, driven by its commitment to a short-term, timber-extraction bias, the forestry profession consistently discounts the importance of old-growth forests for other than required timber supplies. This bias for timber extraction at the expense of all other forest values has been supported by spokespeople for the ABCFP and even by forestry academics who proclaim, in the face of scientific studies showing the opposite, that there is plenty of old-growth already protected in parks and other protected areas. These false claims expose a willful ignorance of the difference between old-growth forests that grow on deep, moist soils, compared to old-growth forests that develop in bogs, on shallow moisture-deficient soils, and at high elevations.
The Fairy Creek rainforest is but one example of the endemic problems with professional forestry. Who are the forest professionals that designed clearcuts in old-growth forests that contain the blue-listed specklebelly lichen? In another example, what about the ongoing decline of woodland caribou that depend upon old-growth forest habitat? This dependence of woodland caribou has been known for decades. Yet, during that time forest professionals have continued to authorize logging plans that destroy caribou habitat.
We will never know how many threatened and endangered species have been wiped out by “professional” forestry, because no one bothered to ask if they existed before exploiting the forest for timber in the first place. If you don’t ask the question, you don’t need to worry about the answer. Does that approach uphold the public interest? Is that approach an example of ethical professionalism?
Forestry is a significant player in the shift of British Columbia’s, and Canada’s forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources. While wildfires may make up the largest part of that shift, logging, slash burning, and the production of short-lived wood products are significant contributors to forests being the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions of any economic sector in BC. Also, important to note is that clearcuts and tree plantations are highly flammable, increase wildfire risk and cause large, intense wildfires.
When it comes to the public interest, foresters have a professional obligation to recognize that, among “the multiple values that society has assigned to BC’s forests,” protection of a livable climate and the biodiversity that sustains all life on Earth are paramount values, without which the other values will cease to exist. As a first measure towards climate correction, the provincial government needs to stop clearcutting all forests, particularly old primary forests on Crown land and reduce the provincial allowable annual cut by more than half.
Herb Hammond is a Registered Professional Forester and forest ecologist with over 40 years of experience in research, industry, teaching and consulting. Currently his work is carried out through Silva Ecosystem Consultants and the Silva Forest Foundation.
The Canadian Standards Association's "sustainable forest management" certification of old-growth logging is dishonest greenwashing and needs to be removed.
PERHAPS NO ORGANIZATION IS BEHAVING MORE DISGRACEFULLY in promoting the logging of the last vestiges of old-growth forest in our country than is the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The CSA has developed standard Z809-16, which is used to certify forestry firms as practicing “sustainable forest management,” in spite of their logging old-growth forest. Last week, Ecojustice, on behalf of six individuals and supported by two organizations, submitted a request to the federal Competition Bureau to investigate this certification, claiming it is false and misleading, effectively a dishonest marketing ploy. And they’re right, once old-growth forests are gone, they are gone forever. CSA’s certification is like claiming that the wiping out of the cod fishery off the Maritimes was sustainable.
Opposition to the logging of these ancient matriarchs is widespread in the Interior and on the Coast. For over a year in the Fairy Creek Valley on Vancouver Island, protesters have been blockading roads, chaining themselves to trees and sitting in the canopy to stop Teal Cedar Ltd from felling majestic old-growth trees. The blockade continues in spite of arrests—and occasional brutality—by the RCMP. The protests are not the actions of a few hippies, but instead are part of a broad public-based movement. Even on far-away Pender Island where I live, for example, there are about 70 people who are contributing money and supplies, going frequently to Fairy Creek and planning creative methods to save the old matriarchs. Furthermore, public surveys clearly show that British Columbians want the few remaining old-growth trees to survive. Horgan should pay attention.
The Ecojustice complaint comes on the heels of my submission of January 18, 2021, when, together with 13 individuals/organizations, I formally requested the CSA to remove the word “sustainable” from its standard and to revoke the certification from those companies who log old-growth trees. Many of those who joined me also made independent submissions. On June 29, 2021, the CSA rejected all our submissions stating that our comments “are outside the scope and intent of the CSA Z809 SFM Standard.” We are striving to appeal this decision.
The old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek Rainforest took thousands of years to develop. How can logging of this forest and then converting it to a planation be “sustainable”? (Photo by TJ Watt)
Recently, I visited Avatar Grove, near Port Renfrew, one of the most beautiful places in western Canada with enormous cedars and Douglas firs towering overhead. Shafts of golden light angled down to the dusky forest floor. The shadowy forest was rich with sword ferns, moss-covered logs and witch’s hair dangling from branches. There was a spirituality; a deep closeness with nature. I was in awe of the vast knowledge these matriarchs have accumulated during a long, long lifetime. Why would we murder these national treasures?
The main reason is that no politician wants to antagonize the communities who depend on the lumber industry. Thanks to vast forestlands, forestry was once one of the largest industries in the province. But since about 1990 the situation has turned bleak and in response to declining profits and market share, BC forestry companies have cut large, old trees, claiming they must do so to remain financially viable. At the same time, they receive CSA certification. After all, being endorsed as “sustainable” can only boost their environmental image and help sales.
Communities who have seen forestry jobs diminish should understand that preservation of old-growth trees will help the industry recover. Environmentalists want the forest industry to be healthy, and a significant part of BC’s economy, but they want this to happen responsibly. These goals are achievable because the remaining productive old-growth ecosystems only constitute a tiny fraction of the forestland in the province. There are masses of younger trees to supply wood to sawmills and the wood-working industry. Yes, sawmills will need to be re-fitted, but that’s doable. Furthermore, old-growth trees have more value left standing, rather than being chopped into small pieces to be used as shingles and other products.
Dan Hager, the president of the local Chamber of Commerce has watched tourism take off since Port Renfrew labelled itself as the Tall Tree Capital of Canada. “Simple logic,” he said, “it’s more economical to preserve grand old trees than cut them down.” Since then, the BC Chambers of Commerce, the largest business-advocacy organization in the province, agreed, passing a motion to protect old-growth forests.
Quantitative evidence comes from a recent study conducted by ESSA Technologies in which revenue from logging old growth was compared to that from retaining old growth. The latter included benefits from carbon storage/sequestration, recreation, tourism, salmon habitat, non-timber forest products like floral greenery and mushrooms, and research/education opportunities. The study concluded that society is better off when old-growth forests are protected rather than logged.
Thus, forestry-dependent communities should welcome those wanting to protect old growth, and not consider them as enemies who want to destroy forestry jobs. Like Port Renfrew, communities will benefit from retaining old growth, and those benefits will be truly sustainable over the long term.
But the forestry industry in its mad pursuit of profits does not listen. Furthermore, it yields immense power so that Premier Horgan and his NDP party refuse to take any meaningful action, in spite of campaign promises to the contrary. His (in)actions are being labelled as “Horganized Crime.” Another label is ecocide.
The CSA, which usually deals with consumer product safety and quality control, and claims to be an independent body, has become a disgrace. As longtime conservationist Vicky Husband remarked in Ecojustice’s press release for the complaint to the Competition Bureau, “What serious standards organization would certify the logging of the remaining 3 per cent of our most valuable, big-tree forests as “sustainable”. To which Anthony Britneff, another complainant, adds, “Only one backed and supported by the Forest Products Association of Canada”.
The CSA and the forestry industry are worrisome signs that society is heading for a cliff, shepherded along by neoliberalism and the immense power and size of international corporations.
Permanently destroying ancient trees cannot be certified as sustainable. It’s time for the CSA to speak proper English … and for a ban on old-growth logging.
Hans Tammemagi is an award-winning journalist and photographer living on Pender Island.
I AM 70 YEARS OLD and have a small farm outside of Victoria. I was a logger at Port Renfrew, a log scaler and a highschool teacher. I helped persuade the Harcourt government to protect the Sooke Hills Wilderness Park.
Jim Pine with a cabbage grown on his farm outside Victoria
I began working in the forest industry because I lost a bet in a bar. My buddy and I were in need of some cash and there was one opening for a chokerman. I lost the bet and had to work. I made more money than I had ever seen in my life. I worked a few months a year and went traveling for the rest. Then it paid for my university. Over 15 years I worked as a logger, a data processor of forestry reports, and as a log scaler measuring trees to determine the royalty payment from each one.
I was shocked even back then at the waste. Clearcutting sacrifices all the young trees so that the industry can cream off the highest value. A sustainable forest, selectively logged, has a life cycle of about 250 years. Our approach is much shorter. We are converting thousand-year-old forests that produce tight-grain lumber into “fibre farms” with 75-year rotations, resulting in inferior lumber. With the current trajectory we will have logged all the old growth within 3-5 years.
We take no account of the damage to the soil and the rivers from erosion and compaction. As far as I know no studies have been done by the BC government of the impact of clearcutting on ecosystems. But we do know that old-growth trees clean water and nurture salmon as well as sink carbon. We know that they are havens for the biodiversity recipes that allow new regenerative forests to grow.
Allowing multinational corporations to continue with their rapacious practices means we are impoverished economically and environmentally and the remaining jobs will support far fewer people with much lower wages. One man on a feller buncher can take out as much wood as it took eight people when I started.
The government and industry philosophy is based on the belief that there are no moral constraints against domination and perpetual growth, and that competition is the basis of success. But there is so much evidence that cooperation, reciprocity and respect are at least as important for resilience and survival. As elders it is our responsibility to tell a different story, one which reflects a 1,000 year ecosystem-wide view.
Premier John Horgan is duplicitous when he tells us he cares about the rights of the Pacheedaht elected council, but can’t find $347,000 to replace the money they might receive over the next 3 years in the revenue-sharing agreement with Teal Jones, who say they will make $20 million although other estimates are much higher. He didn’t listen to the West Moberly Nation and stop Site C, or the Blueberry Nation and stop fracking, or the Squamish or Kwakiutl people and conserve their old growth. And what has it cost to have the RCMP, with heavy equipment operators, helicopter surveillance and the Canadian military to arrest the protestors?
I care so much about this that I am willing to get arrested, breaking the unjust law that says the logging can continue. Recently retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalie Abella reminded us that the rule of justice is at least as important as the rule of law, which has given us apartheid, slavery and colonization. It is really unfair that the RCMP do not hesitate to arrest Indigenous youth but I have engaged in obvious civil disobedience five times within plain sight of police and have yet to be arrested. Bad press to arrest old white men I guess.
After requesting a meeting with my MLA, Lana Popham, her constituency assistant wrote: “In terms of the Old Growth Panel Review, Minister Popham is not currently taking meetings with individual constituents on the matter.” What happened to representative democracy?
To the young people at Fairy Creek I say, “Bravo! Thank you! I am proud to be on your side”.
To the rest of us I ask, “What kind of ancestor do you want to be?”
Jim Pine is a member of Elders for Ancient Forests in Victoria
July 22, 2021
Remember the letter the Rainforest Flying Squad sent you back in mid-May just as the RCMP enforcement at our camps began? Remember how we asked you to mind the lessons of your past, at both Wet’suwet’en and TMX, and how we pledged ourselves to uphold our commitment to non-violence? How we asked you not to target Indigenous members and to respect our right to peaceful protest?
We kept our promise. You didn’t. Here we are now into our third month of enforcement still face to face with your paramilitary CIRG unit and the list of your infractions is long. In an astoundingly short period of time, you have amassed quite the rap sheet that includes, but is not limited to:
Deliberate targeting of Indigenous youth in exclusion zones and subjecting them to rough treatment and intimidation during arrests.
The use of exclusion zones despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these zones are illegal.
The use of personal searches despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these practices are illegal.
The use of access checkpoints despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these practices are illegal.
Denial of media access to enforcement zones.
Refusal to allow RFS legal observers and police liaisons to do their jobs.
Catch and release programs designed to intimidate people for such offences as refusing to abide by your imaginary exclusion zones.
The use of threats of rubber bullets, tear gas and arrest to intimidate Indigenous and non-Indigenous defenders.
Dangerous use of excavators while extracting human beings from sleeping dragons, causing one head injury and putting people’s lives at extreme risk.
Refusal to provide safety helmets to defenders during these dangerous extraction practices.
Dangerous use of grinders, cutting a woman’s finger.
Illegal towing of private citizens’ vehicles on public roads far from the camps.
Illegal practices of giving personal vehicles to Teal Jones to be held for unreasonable towing fees, along with personal items.
Illegal stoppage of buses and legitimate tour operators.
Deliberate failure to heed the enforcement order of Justice Verhoeven that allows public protest in the enforcement area.
Confiscation of donations meant for camp defenders.
And perhaps one of the worst offences: dragging a man by a bandana around his neck until he lost consciousness and kicking him in the head – this after the BC Supreme Court rendered the decision about your illegal actions. Surely, inflicting harm or death on peaceful protesters is against the law and your ethics.
We thought your purpose is to serve and protect Canadians. Instead, you have used your paramilitary force of trained personnel, helicopters, tracking dogs, threats and intimidation with increasing brutality and harshness. We have noted the presence of officers previously engaged in harmful practices. We remind you that we are Canadian citizens, entitled to conduct peaceful acts of civil disobedience and bound by a Code of Conduct we take to heart and employ every day to protect our forests.
On July 20, 2021, the BC Supreme Court confirmed the illegality of some of your actions, stating that the public has the right to access the Fairy Creek area, and that your geographically extensive exclusion zones and checkpoints are not justified. Also on this day, the BC Supreme Court ruled you cannot deny media the right to access the enforcement areas. To deny the media is to deny their ability to bear witness and document events in an impartial manner, one of the very foundational rights of our democracy.
And just so we are perfectly clear, we will continue our peaceful protests as citizens, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, of this country. In this time of increasing government and corporate partnerships that fail the public interest, we, as Canadian citizens, have a duty and a right to defend our forests.
We remind you that we are standing for the old-growth forests on your behalf as well as that of your children.
We ask you to think about how you wish to be remembered in the coming years.
The Rainforest Flying Squad
Comment from the former Dean of the UBC Faculty of Forestry, published on UBC's website.
MUCH HAS BEEN MADE about the future of old-growth forests in British Columbia. Global media interest is intense, partly because of the coverage of protestors being arrested while demonstrating against the logging of old-growth on southern Vancouver Island. These arrests were made not for demonstrating, which in British Columbia is generally a lawful activity, but for violating an injunction issued by the British Columbia legal system.
I have been asked by those on one side of the argument why I have not added my voice to those demanding an immediate stop to old-growth logging. Conversely, I’ve also been asked by those on the other side why I don’t condemn the people who are making those demands. Here, I will express my opinion as Dean of the Faculty of Forestry at UBC. This is not the Faculty’s opinion – there is no such thing, as we are a community of individuals, each with their own opinion. While very occasionally we all agree on something, the more normal situation is for a variety of views to be held on any particular subject. As I indicate below, what I can and cannot say is influenced by my position as Dean, and if I was writing this as a faculty member and researcher, I would express myself differently.
As with many issues and causes reported in the media, the situation with old-growth conservation in British Columbia is a lot more complex than most people suppose. There has been a great deal of obfuscation, to the extent that the facts are quite difficult to ascertain. For example, it has been stated that that there is only 3% of old-growth left in the province of British Columbia. This is untrue. As defined by the provincial government (and there should be questions being asked about the scientific validity of this definition), there is somewhere between 13 and 14 million hectares of old-growth left in British Columbia. About 10 million ha of this is either protected or excluded from the Timber Harvesting Land Base (THLB) because it is not considered to be economically feasible to harvest. Much of this forest (an estimated 80%) consists of relatively small, low-productivity forest, but which nevertheless provides many environmental benefits, including important habitat for many species and a significant carbon store.
Many concerns centre on the remaining areas of so-called “productive old-growth forest”. This is a misnomer, since virtually all forests are productive, but some are more productive than others. The area of this that is left is subject to dispute, and it very much depends on how it is calculated. The truth is, there has been no complete survey of old-growth in British Columbia, and all estimates are ultimately based on models, developed from several forms of sometimes conflicting inventory data. The claims that there are only 3% left are based on estimates calculated using methods based on the Vegetation Resources Inventory site index. However, this has long been known to underestimate the productive area in mature and old stands. More reliable estimates of the area of mature and old stands can be gained from the Provincial Site Productivity Layer, but this also has serious shortcomings. On 24 June, the provincial government announced the creation of Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel. “The purpose of the Panel is to provide maps, analysis, and detailed status of old-growth ecosystems in British Columbia in order to improve public information, consistent with recommendation #5 from the Old Growth Strategic Review. The Panel will also provide recommendations on priority areas for implementation of deferrals, consistent with recommendation #6 from the Old Growth Strategic Review.” This is a critical step, and I am pleased that it has finally been taken. However, it will not be able to address the problem of the poor state of forest inventory in British Columbia.
It is clear, especially on Vancouver Island, that many of the magnificent stands of valley-bottom old growth have been logged. The surviving forest in the valley bottom at Carmanah provides an indication of what these forests were once like. These stands were not only some of the most valuable in British Columbia, but also some of the most readily accessible. These were generally located in Coastal Western Hemlock forests. In drier areas, Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems predominated, and many of these have been lost due to land-use change and fires. Already the smallest and rarest of the ecological zones in BC, old-growth CDF forests are believed to have been reduced to less than 1% of their former extent, and any unprotected remaining stand warrant immediate protection.
Should this protection be extended to all old-growth forests in British Columbia? I am reminded of a report produced by the Joint Australian and New Zealand Conservation Council and the Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture National Forest Policy Statement Implementation Sub-Committee (JANIS for short) back in 1997. This argued for the establishment of a comprehensive, adequate, and representative reserve system for old-growth forests. Their recommendations were quite specific:
15% of the pre-1750 distribution of each forest type
60% of existing distributions of each forest type, if vulnerable
60% of existing old-growth forest
90% or more of high-quality wilderness forest
All remaining occurrences of rare and endangered forest ecosystems
They were dealing with very different types of forests to those found in British Columbia, but something similar could be imagined for prioritizing the conservation of old-growth forests in BC. We would also want to make sure that any conservation policy addressed the vexed question of “how much is enough?”
So why won’t I specifically attempt to discredit some of the claims that are being made by either side? The Faculty of Forestry is a community of researchers with a broad diversity of opinions, something that we both value and encourage. Every person is entitled to their opinion, and is entitled to express it. As Dean, it is my role to protect those rights. That is what academic freedom is all about. As a scientist myself, I could question some of what is being said, but I have to be extremely careful in doing so because of my position as Dean. Ultimately, I have to maintain impartiality, as there is a significant power imbalance between myself and the people who work in my Faculty, and university discussions are increasingly being viewed through such a lens. Faculty members are becoming increasingly astute at using the media to convey their opinions. Some have crossed an invisible line between science and advocacy, but that is both their choice, and their right. If they are wrong, it may affect their credibility in the future, but that again is their choice. When they have had a major success in their efforts, we can, and should, congratulate individuals for their achievements, even if we don’t agree with what they are saying.
I have been misquoted in the media as being critical of the Old Growth Strategy Review produced by Garry Merkel and Al Gorley. I have never been critical of this report, and I am pleased that the provincial government has agreed to follow through on its recommendations. However, I have read these recommendations very carefully, and I believe that they are more thoughtful than many people realize. The report recommends a way forward that takes into account the requirement to meet the needs of truth and reconciliation. The BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act has not simply shifted the goalposts. It has changed everything. Everyone is going to have to get used to that. The report does not recommend the immediate implementation of all recommendations, but instead indicates that they will take time, as all paradigm shifts do. They do, however, recommend that as an immediate strategy, the province should: “Until a new strategy is implemented, defer development in old forests where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss”. This is not a recommendation to immediately defer all old-growth logging in BC.
The management of old-growth in British Columbia is inadequate, as pointed out by the Forest Practices Board in their 2012 investigation. In their submission to the Old Growth Review Panel, they pointed out that little has changed since their 2012 report. The designation, enforcement, and subsequent monitoring of Old Growth Management Areas in BC is deeply deficient. This needs to change.
However, this is not the only area of forest management policy in need of substantial change. The provincial government’s recent Intentions paper signals a willingness to address some of the issues, including a much-needed overhaul of the outdated BC Forests Act. The question remains as to how much the government will actually be able to achieve, especially given the lack of capacity in the relevant Ministries. Garry Merkel, one of the authors of the Old Growth Strategy Review, and a member of the new Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel, has repeatedly emphasized in the media that British Columbia must go through a paradigm change in the way that we manage our forests, and this is the area that is least well-reflected in the Intentions paper.
Getting more involved with some issues is problematic. For example, I have been criticized for not showing more “leadership” during the Fairy Creek protests. That was an interesting statement and made me think. Should I have been supporting Teal Jones, who have a license issued by the provincial government to log in the area and the agreement of the First Nation leadership whose traditional territory it lies within? Should I have been supporting the RCMP in their efforts to enforce the law? Should I have been supporting the Pacheedaht First Nation? If so, should I have been supporting those in agreement with the logging, or those standing against it? Should I have been supporting the protestors, convinced of the justice of their cause, but acting in defiance of an injunction and against the expressed wishes of the elected leadership of the Pacheedaht? Maybe I should have been trying to broker a solution, but that was already happening behind closed doors on a government-to-government basis.
Rather than jumping in uninvited, there are other ways to show leadership, and I think we are doing that. For the past seven years, we have been building a proposal for an Indigenous Land Stewardship Centre. We’re still working on this; although the proposal is complete, permission to start has not been granted. In developing this, we have faced indifference, intransigence, and the occasional outburst of outright racism, but this concept, co-developed between the Faculty and Indigenous partners, and with a similarly co-designed undergraduate program, is exactly what is needed today. It is no coincidence that the Squamish Nation have listed lack of capacity as one of the difficulties facing the resource management planning that is needed to resolve some of the old-growth questions.
What about the forest industry, and the people dependent on it? 27% of British Columbia’s annual cut consists of old-growth. That rises to more than 50% on Vancouver Island. Stopping that harvest immediately would cause major hardship for many individuals, communities, and companies. Many working in the forest sector are highly leveraged, and even a temporary loss of income could have disastrous consequences for their ability to service debt. For others, it would mean job losses, and all the problems and distress that that entails. This is why Garry Merkel and Al Gorley talked about a transition period, giving time to adjust to the new reality. Of course, that would mean continued cutting of old-growth, but this could be directed away from the areas most in need of conservation, potentially reducing (but not eliminating) the impacts.
Just before Easter this year, we submitted a report to the BC Premier’s Office and several BC Ministries recommending major changes to the BC forest sector, including changes in the way forestry is planned, practiced, and regulated, changes to the tenure system, involvement of carbon conservation, and changes towards a future bioeconomy. While receipt of the report was not acknowledged, and there has been no discussion of its contents with government, I was pleased that many of the recommendations we made were the same as appeared in the recent Intentions paper. I, and I hope the rest of the Faculty, remain open to working with government to help design some of the much-needed change that is so clearly needed.
“Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb, across my head...”
Day in the Life– Lennon/McCartney
I SLEEP IN MY CAR when I’m in Ada-Itsx/Fairy Creek, wedged into a slot between boxes of supplies, so falling out of bed isn’t an option. I greet the dawn by wiggling the door latch with my toes, and sliding out onto the dusty road like a sardine out of a tin.
“The things we do...” a woman smiled, walking by.
A few nights ago, an angry mob of loggers stoned three cars parked at the side of the road, showering their sleeping occupants with broken glass. I was so upset, I wrote Diary 5 at 3 am. By 8 am I had filed it by satellite, and began to round up a small herd of biologists documenting endangered species like Marbled Murrelets and Western Screech-Owls in Tree Farm Licence 46 (TFL 46), as well as the Juggernaut Pictures film crew.
Streaming their work on The Green Channel, Juggernaut makes investigative films like The Pristine Coast, which revealed for the first time that disease from open pen fish farming, and not commercial fishing, likely caused the East Coast cod collapse.
Scientist/sleuth/director Scott Renyard has chosen deforestation and forest mismanagement for his next project. He’s sure in the right province for that! Fairy Creek has drawn him in with irresistible images.
Scene 1: Unlawful Police Action. Location: A Public Road
“A band of bird-watching biologists are barred entry from an eco-reserve by an RCMP squad enforcing a bogus ‘Provincial Emergency’ declared by John Horgan on behalf of a billionaire corporation.”
Jim Cuthbert is the leader of this dangerous gang. They’ll stop at nothing to listen to birds. The RCMP told them they couldn’t enter their “exclusion zone” around TFL 46 without a physical copy of their diplomas and a letter of accreditation from the organizations they belong to.
Biologist Jim Cuthbert (top left in the truck) and his dangerous gang (YC photo)
By doing so, RCMP officers broke several Canadian laws.
An exclusion zone is a discretionary privilege police use to create room to work and protect citizens at disaster sites. Justice Verhoeven and the Pacheedaht Council welcomed us to peacefully exercise our Charter Rights of free assembly and protest anywhere outside 50 metres from active logging. A reasonable exclusion zone would be 10 metres beyond that 50 metres.
The RCMP exclusion zones here stretch up to 10 kilometres from active logging.
The RCMP have set these illegal roadblocks up all over TFL 46 to keep media and our lawyers from witnessing abusive RCMP tactics: like shining klieg lights on defenders all night to rob them of sleep, dropping excavator blades three inches from defenders’ faces while they are fastened to roads, and inflicting beatings on First Nations youth.
The roadblocks also stop the 85 percent of BC’s population that wants to protect old growth from participating. If we could bus 10,000 citizens in to block the loggers, what would the police do? Put us all in jail?
Biologist Loys Maingon MA, PhD, MSc (RPBio) drove from Courtenay to research an article for the Bulletin of the Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists. The RCMP sent him back, telling him he would, quote: “need a court order to access Crown Land in TFL 46.” On hearing that, Jim and his merry band of scientists clad themselves in Lincoln green and melted through the illegal RCMP blockade into the woods.
Scene 2: Our Intrepid Journalist Finds His Heart’s Desire. Location: Secret
To interview the biologists, as well as forest defenders “Screech” and “Owl,” cinematographer Athan Merrick felt the best location would be at the feet of Titania, a 2,000-year-old yellow cedar.
Titania was Queen of the Fairies in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Our 7-year-old guide showed us to the trail head, but I asked a man up ahead if he knew the trail. He said he had made the trail, under the guidance of Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones. What are the odds?
“Ask and ye shall receive” is the way things happen in Fairy Creek. You ask the forest for a guide, and you get the guide.
We’ve been suspecting the trees are orchestrating the defence of our shared ecosystem. I was about to find out just how.
I’ve spent my whole life dancing with trees—I’ve planted 300,000, from clearcuts to cities. I’ve horse-logged them with love, sawn them into timber, crafted them into furniture, and carved them into public sculpture. Of all my favourite tree species, my Holy of Holies is yellow cedar.
I turned a corner, and there she was, Titania.
Titania, a 2,000-year old yellow cedar (YC photo)
As I came into her presence, my heart trembling with joy, I suddenly knew that the Queen of the Fairies was not going anywhere. She looks great, for 2,000. Yellow cedars have a special, soft, fluffy beauty at the edges. I told her so.
I walked up to reassure her that she was not coming down, but when my hands touched her bark, I was flooded with her voice, telling me that she was glad I also knew she is not going anywhere.
I had found the Mother Tree.
As Bill Jones says: “You do not go up to the forest to cut it down, you go to ask the Great Mother what she would like you to do.”
Steady as you go seemed to be the instructions.
As we filmed a biologist talking about how serious a crime cutting Old Growth is, RCMP choppers circled overhead: $2,500 an hour spent to bully citizens, kilometres from active logging. The audio intrusion will remain in the soundtrack. Very Apocalypse Now.
Scene 3: A Moment of Reconciliation. Location: Ada-Itsx
The days are long and sweet in Fairy Creek, with many chance meetings, and moments of sorrow and joy. On the way back, we attended a Red Dress ceremony led by Granny Rose to honour the 1,000+ indigenous women missing in Canada, many along BC’s Highway of Tears. Then, with true reconciliation in our hearts, we staggered back into camp at sunset to plan the next day’s shoot—a hard blockade.
Red Dress Ceremony (YC photo)
Scene 4: Hard Times at a Hard Blockade. Location: Road to 2,000 Camp and Waterfall Camp
A hard blockade is where defenders dig holes in an access road, and glue their legs in with concrete. We use them because the exclusion zones prevent us from bussing in thousands of citizens. While our government spews out weekly “talk and log” announcements, and NGOs gather signatures for petitions no one will read, the hard blockaders are saving trees.
At 4 in the morning the arrestee group and film crew gathered to begin the 9-kilometre bushwhack through dark forest to evade the exclusion zone. But something snapped inside each of us. We decided to stop playing their game, and start taking back our Charter rights of free assembly. We snatched a few hours of sleep, and drove to the police road block around 9:00 am.
Script Change: “We decide to break the illegal exclusion line instead.”
Led by Indigenous defenders Rainbow Eyes and Lady Chainsaw, 20 citizens advanced on the RCMP’s “thin blue line,” like a lapping tide, in waves. The officers looked at each other, in growing doubt. The RCMP line broke like a bad dream.
Mist, in red, with Lady Chainsaw (RFS photo)
Pushing Lady Chainsaw’s wheelchair around the police vehicles, we hiked five kilometres in to the next zone, where a group of reinforcements stood lined up like tin soldiers.
Undeterred, Christoph, whom you met in Diary 4, stepped forward. In all, 13 were carted off into paddy wagons, held for four hours, and released without charge. We call this “Catch and Release.”
Catch and release is another unreasonable abuse of discretionary police privilege; in this case to apprehend a suspect, and release them if charges will not stick. Deliberate catch and release takes away our Charter right to talk to a judge and go to jail for our beliefs.
None of us got charged, but we got footage for Scott’s film, and best of all, later on, a hard blockader from nearby Waterfall Camp told me: “They were slamming us, dropping out of choppers with quads, using diamond grinders on our wrist chains, and all of a sudden half of them disappeared. We knew something was up. Thanks.”
Title Suggestion: The Death and Rebirth of Civil Liberties in Canada
We’re losing this War to Save the Woods because false arrest and illegal exclusion zones have made traditional civil disobedience obsolete. The RCMP tactics are clever, but they are totally illegal. Forest defenders describe TFL 46 as a police state. In a few short weeks, our purpose has changed from saving trees, to saving democracy.
The mainstream media are just recycling Orwellian press releases. The plan to stop cutting old growth is to cut it all down, so there’s none left to cut. No wonder the public are confused.
Rainforest Flying Squad (R4FS), and an angry ecosystem of citizen’s groups including Elders For Ancient Trees, are launching multiple legal actions to challenge false arrest and the illegal exclusion zones. Please keep giving to the R4FS Go Fund Me page, because class action civil liberties suits are expensive.
We’re taking our Premier to court, so he will give us back our Charter rights to go to jail.
When civil disobedience is restored, hopefully there will still be some old growth trees left to save, and we’ll be able to go in front of Justice Verhoeven again. I’m suggesting we use the following defence:
“Please sentence me to 100 hours of community service, like they got at Clayoquot. I’d like to do my community service with an organization that is actively working to reduce the 65 million tonnes a year of CO2 emissions caused by clearcutting! They’re protecting biodiversity and democracy! They’re called The Rainforest Flying Squad.”
People ask me where I get these ideas. Credit where due. It came to me standing in a rainforest, with a chopper idling in the background. Titania, the Mother Tree, whispered it in my ear.
Yellow Cedar is a Vancouver Island-based writer.
Correspondent "Yellow Cedar" reports from inside the old-growth blockades
June 26, 2021
LAST NIGHT I RETURNED TO FAIRY CREEK from my home “outside,” where I am blessed to live in a forest. A friend had come to visit on his birthday, and we walked the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island. “Outside” I swam back upstream here like a salmon through a river of tourists eager to soak up some sun and unwind after a year of COVID.
And then I headed back to Ada-Itsx/Fairy Creek.
Not 30 minutes after I drove my car a quarter mile up Granite Main, past the sign “You are entering TFL 46,” parked at the gate to “HQ,” and was sitting around the watch fire, the soft summer night was shattered by screams and broken glass. I was back “inside.”
On my way in, I had passed three cars, pulled to the side of the road, people bedding down for the night, walking their dogs, exchanging a few words. A half-hour later, an angry mob swept up and destroyed the rustic intake booth, and stoned their cars, with them inside.
The occupants came running and driving up the road for shelter, windshields and faith in humanity shattered.
Smashed windows of forest defender’s car.
I couldn’t help but think of Kristallnacht. You on the outside will surely say “tut tut, that was different.” Nobody was killed last night, but here on the inside, it doesn’t feel very different.
We live in a province with a leader consolidating his power by exterminating an ecosystem, using a paramilitary tactical squad to enforce “law and order,” and benefitting from mob violence.
And the fear in the eyes of the victims is the same. Come down here and look in their eyes. The vulnerability, the violation, are exactly the same.
On the outside, you can wake up this morning with a reasonable expectation of a cup of coffee, greeting your friends and family, and doing your job. The police will not rappel down from helicopters into your back yard and threaten to punch you in the face. You won’t awake to find your car towed down a logging road and have its tires slashed. You can sleep in peace.
On the inside, it’s different. If you think I’m overreacting, what do you want me to say to this young man, in his bare feet and pyjamas, voice trembling—“and they threw stones right into my car,” broken glass all around his feet? He came here to protect some trees. Who will protect him?
How far is this going to go? Who are we as a people?
This will go unnoticed. Mainstream media won’t print this story. Here on the inside, we’ll pick up the pieces, and get on with our day. We’ll try and comfort the afflicted, and pass the hat to help them fix their cars.
We reported three assaults with property damage, and were routed to North Island dispatch, who said we’d get a call. No call came. We won’t waste our time on the RCMP. We know they’ll say it was a “random act of violence,” and that “they don’t have the resources.”
Germania with her damaged vehicle, Ada-Itsx/Fairy Creek
How do we deal with this?
All I can think of is to ask groups of people from the city who feel protected by whatever privilege they have to come down every night and camp at the junction of Granite Main, and when the mob shows up next time, use your connections to see that justice is done.
For me, I’ll carry on believing that John Horgan has a lot to answer for here.
Hopefully my next post will be a bit more cheerful. I meant to tell you about a group of biologists walking a sacred valley to find endangered birds, by coaxing them with their own calls. I meant to tell you how I walked amongst some 2,000 year old yellow cedars on my own little pilgrimage.
We’ll see how it goes.
Yellow Cedar is a Vancouver Island-based writer. Read his earlier entries about getting back to the garden (thank you Joni M), his arrest (“Six Hours in Paddy Wagon”), the targeting of First Nations youths by the RCMP, and why he is willing to be arrested (“25 Species Will Go Extinct Today”).
Correspondent "Yellow Cedar" reports from inside the old-growth blockades
June 15, 2021
I CAME UPON A CHILD OF GOD, he was walking along the road
And I asked him, “Where are you going?” and this he told me
I’m going on down to Fairy Creek, I’m gonna try and save some trees
I’m gonna camp out on the land, I’m gonna try and get my soul free
(Stanzas in italics are from Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” about the 1969 Woodstock Festival.)
MY VANCOUVER FRIEND Christoph wants to bring some of his friends up to (Ada-Itsx) Fairy Creek. Could I give him the lay of the land?
“How can I contribute? What should I bring?”
He likes to cook warm meals in the woods, so I suggested he pack his cooking gear, and hike a few hours past the headwaters, through the 2,000-year-old yellow cedars, to Ridge Camp, which blocks the logging road from punching into Fairy Creek watershed.
If our old growth is protected, what’s the road for?
While politicians chatter, the RCMP showed up yesterday with 37 SWAT team commandoes, using diamond saws to cut chains, and a backhoe to dig people out of concrete and rebar reinforced “sleeping dragons.”
Imagine a backhoe blade smacking the earth three inches from your face! Yet every night, new blockaders slip back in from the forest and chain themselves back in.
They’re living on ramen and granola bars, so I suggested if Chris made them a warm, savoury stew, it would go down very well. His cookware and skills will be appreciated. But he could show up empty handed and still be welcome.
The only thing you need to bring is your self.
We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden
The Pacheedaht Council, by the way, encourages peaceful protest, outside the injunction zone of 50 metres from active logging. The Council’s statement was required to fulfill their obligations under a colonial “hush money” contract they signed to get at least $300,000 for the destruction of their ancestral forest.
That’s all they’ll receive from the conservatively-estimated $400,000,000 street value of TFL 46. A bag of beads and a keg of whiskey all over again. If you want to know more about colonialism at Fairy Creek, please read this.
Indigenous leaders invite you to stand by them and the trees at Ada-Itsx.
Meanwhile, at Ada-itsx people are building true reconciliation with our bare hands and our hearts, inspired by the leadership of Pacheedahts Kati George-Jim, Granny Rose, and elder Bill Jones. Bill was the first to invite us to come up to the woods. I love Bill. In my life, he has become my father, and my grandfather. He is a quiet man, but people ask him to talk, because he comes out with wisdom like this:
“You don’t go up to the forest to cut it down, you go up to ask the Great Mother what she wants you to do.”
“Camping on the land” is back on. And getting our souls free.
Then can I walk beside you? I have come here to lose the smog,
and I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year, or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am, but you know life is for learning
Walking to Waterfall Camp in June (photo by Alex Harris)
“Walking beside each other” is my favourite part of Fairy Creek. Eyes sparkle. Stories tumble out. Friendships are made and sealed in a moment.
Although you can, you don’t need to come to Fairy Creek to spend a week in a tree like Panda and Hummingbird, who were inspired by Julia Butterfly Hill, who sat for two years in a California Redwood she named “Luna.”
Just come to Fairy Creek Blockade HQ, now on Google Maps, at Pacific Marine Road and Granite Main, near Port Renfrew, and it will all start for you.
Yesterday I met Toucan and her family. Toucan is a “camp name.” Toucan’s sister couldn’t think of another rainforest bird, so she called herself “One-Can.” That, of course, left Mom with “Three-Can.” This lovely family have flocked to Fairy Creek, like planetary T-cells, to help heal a wound.
We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden
They were mulling over getting arrested. I set them at ease. The RCMP will inform you if you are breaking a law, and give you the opportunity to step back. They actually don’t want to arrest people, because if 1,000 people go to jail, the trees win.
The only place you risk arrest is within 50 metres of active logging, or machinery, which would place you in violation of Justice Verhoeven’s injunction.
And that’s a choice you can make when you get here. You don’t need to get arrested to stand with the forest defenders and trees. “Cookie” is a beautiful soul in her 70s, who came to camp for three days. She says “I like feeding people.” That was 5 months ago.
Toucan was feeling pretty courageous about the whole arrest thing. “I’m nine years old, what can they do to me?” No one knows yet, but I think we’re about to find out! One-Can, at 14, was a little more cautious. Could she get her first job with a criminal record?
Filmmaker “Egg” reminded her that committing civil disobedience is a civil offence, not criminal, and suggested “it will look good on your resume for Harvard.”
“The RCMP might tack on a criminal “public mischief” charge, but Justice Verhoeven will dismiss that as mischievous. Always practice non-violence. Satyagraha is “holding firmly to the power of truth.” If you get in a situation, just think, what would Gandhi do? You’ll be fine.
Three-Can was quietly mulling all this over in her own way. I think she was wondering why her government would send an RCMP SWAT team to chuck her children in jail for hugging a tree. The situation is pretty weird! A lot to think about.
Western Trillium in Fairy Creek area forest, early June (photo by Alex Harris)
And that, to me, is the gift waiting for us at Fairy Creek, the soul searching. What is our relationship with our planet? What is our relationship with our government? How can we help? What am I ready to do, today?
As we think these thoughts, and make our choices, we change inside. In fact, we start to become the change that we want to see. And we are not alone!
By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers, riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies, above our nation
Human history lurches forward in fits and starts, as good ideas percolate up into people’s consciousness. Bruce Cockburn lamented “Why does history take such a long long time?” But when a threshold number of us catch fire, change just suddenly happens overnight, like bamboo shooting up 90 feet in five weeks after germinating underground for five years.
Today, we are ready. Today, in our time, at Fairy Creek, Ada-itsx, the dam is breaking. The arrow is leaving the bow.
Fairy Creek is no longer just a watershed of Old Growth trees, it is our moment to build reconciliation between forests, oceans, the clouds that join them, First Nations, their land, and all the people from around the world who have settled here.
Bill Jones says “when you go into nature, let her enter you.” At Fairy Creek, we’re settling into the land, and she into us.
The most difficult reconciliation is that with our government. Our democracy has lost its way, and we are taking it by the hand and leading it back to wisdom.
We are stardust, billion year old carbon.
We are golden, caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden
Joni is so amazing. If Bill is my father, she is my mother. In 1969, she intuitively grasped the significance of carbon, and that we are carbon. Then she rhymed it with garden.
Maybe it was a coincidence, but I don’t think so.
And even if you can’t come to Fairy Creek right now, imagine this—Joni Mitchell didn’t actually get to Woodstock, she wrote the song after chatting with her boyfriend Graham Nash, who sang there.
Even if you can’t make it physically, you can be here, now.
Fairy Creek valley, June 2021 (photo by Alex Harris)
Yellow Cedar is a Vancouver Island-based writer. Read his earlier entries about his arrest ("Six Hours in Paddy Wagon"), the targeting of First Nations youths by the RCMP, and why he is willing to be arrested ("25 Species Will Go Extinct Today").
THE FAIRY CREEK AREA, with its old growth and unique ecosystems, needs our protection. Thousands of people, not just from BC, but from all over the World know about old-growth logging in BC, and we want that logging to be stopped.
There is only three percent of old-growth forests left in BC and this is a shame for all governments which allowed it.
I am an independent 69-year-old professional, who has devoted all my life to respect and protect nature in every country, every place I lived.
I am a Landscape Architect with great 6 years of European University education about role of nature in our lives. I have 2 years of plant physiology courses, which taught me about the biochemistry of plant cells.
I know how they produce oxygen, without which no life on our planet can exist. Trees, shrubs and flowers are not only for esthetic purposes in our life, they give us Life, for free.
I am also a nature interpreter for schools and the general public at Nanaimo’s Morrell Nature Sanctuary.
As an independent citizen of Canada, I chose to start a hunger strike on June 2, 2021 without definite end. I devote this hunger strike to draw even more attention of the media, governments and public to the mindless devastation of the best gifts nature could give us: our forests, and particularly, old growth.
On June 13, another group of concerned citizens will start their hunger strike in Vancouver. I hope we can make a difference.
As is made clear by renowned scientists, among them our own Suzanne Simard (recent book: Finding the Mother Tree) and Germany’s Peter Wohlleben (book: Secret Life of Trees), trees create their own environment, ecosystems which allow millions of species, including humans, to live on our planet.
Thousands or hundreds year-old trees are even more valuable for that ecosystem, but only when they are standing, growing, doing their job for the rest of nature.
Young trees can’t survive very well without these Mother Trees. All these trees interact and connect through mycelium, a fungi connection that supports all forests’ life. We only started to learn about this recently.
If old growth at Fairy Creek is destroyed, logged within a few months, there will be no return, no possibility to learn about it, to support our lives, to continue BC’s economy based on natural resources.
Old growth is worth much more standing than cut down and changed to pellets or chips to send to Sweden—so they can pretend that they are reducing their climate pollution by burning them to produce electricity.
Why are there so many trees in BC, yet so few businesses producing value-added wood products?
Why do we export raw lumber ignoring the income to be earned and jobs to be generated by turning lumber to high quality products?
Someone in the BC Ministry of Raw Log Exports needs to give their head a shake and craft whatever policies or tax regimes are needed to build a much stronger value-added wood products sector. Now, not in 100 years.
We need a new framework to support a new sustainable economy. The old framework based on free market economics is one of the causes of our many problems. It ignores nature, ignores homelessness, poverty and the realities of power. The free market in housing has created spiralling housing price inflation alongside homelessness, lack of proper mental health care, and unaffordable rents. That has to be changed.
We need a socially responsible market economy, not a selfish market economy, in which the only assumed purpose of business is to make money, regardless of the social and ecological costs.
A vibrant, green economy should be constantly generating new businesses, both private and cooperative. The failure rate for new businesses is high, but when start-ups are supported by community economic organizations that provide training and peer-support, the survival rate increases. At the same time, government at all levels should encourage new businesses to become part of a circular economy of reusing, generating zero landfill waste and recycling wastes into new materials for reuse in the economy. That includes sustainable forest management like selective logging.
There is a great place near Nanaimo to learn about it from professionals: Wildwood Ecoforest. So there is no excuse for governments and logging companies: there they could learn and transfer to sustainable logging, creating even more jobs.
Kate Raworth is a British economist, whose book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a Twenty-First Century Economist is well known already, causing a stir around the World. Her framework for economic development is like a doughnut, where the outer edge is the ecological ceiling, beyond which lie all sorts of ecological dangers, and the inner edge is the social boundary, beyond which people live in a world of poverty and injustice. “The safe and just space for humanity” lies within the doughnut.
The City of Nanaimo has recently adopted this framework to guide all its development, joining Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Brussels, Portland, Philadelphia and many other fantastic cities.
City of Nanaimo and City of Lantzville bravely joined recently the protest against logging old growth in the Fairy Creek area by voting yes to Councillor Ben Geselbracht's motion to formally oppose logging of at-risk old growth forest.
The motion calls on the BC government to defer logging “in all high-productivity, rare, oldest and most intact” old growth forest including at Fairy Creek, to fund an “economically just” transition from unsustainable logging, and forward the resolution for debate at the next Union of BC Municipalities convention.
“This is an unacceptable level of protection for the little that is left of such a globally valuable natural asset,” Geselbracht said. He said that his motion “is not against logging in general, but a request to preserve a small percentage of BC forests”.
Now is the time for change, for shifting to sustainable, green economies, to protect as much precious land and old growth, so future generations can have a healthy living.
Please note: I didn’t even mention “ornamental, esthetic” value of preserved forests for the touristic economy, which is also great in BC. People from over the world come here to enjoy pristine forests, old growth, waterfalls, and wildlife of our land and ocean. Because we professionals and scientists see the real value of standing old growth: for ecosystem, for diversity, for life-giving forces.
This planet and nature do not belong to us. We humans belong to the planet and to nature. It is time to change our thinking and respect our nature.
See Dispatches for more information on Helena Kreowska's hunger strike.
Twin Western red cedar trees in the Caycuse area, before logging and after (Photos by TJ Watts)
WHEN A PROVINCE’S MOTTO motto is invoked ironically, it may be time to reconsider that motto.
British Columbia’s provincial motto is Splendor sine occasu, a Latin phrase usually translated as “Splendour without diminishment.” Narrowly defined, it was intended to refer to the sun on the provincial shield that “although setting, never decreases.”
But the “Splendour” applies equally well to the entire province. BC has more topography than any other province or territory—more mountain ranges, more coastlines. It has more climatic zones, more ecosystems and species than anywhere else in Canada. Or perhaps anywhere else in the world at temperate latitudes.
And that “Splendour”—BC’s natural heritage—has been greatly diminished by our activities. This applies to our oceans and our freshwater as well, but today I’d like to focus on BC’s old-growth forests.
More than 80 percent of BC is covered with forest—we are truly a forested province. There are more types of forest in BC than anywhere else in Canada, from our northern boreal forests to our coastal rainforests. For thousands of years these forests have provided the essentials of life for BC’s First Nations. And they’ve provided habitat for our province’s plants, animals and fungi.
But today we find our rich forest endowment greatly diminished. BC logs considerably more forest each year than any other province. Except where we’ve built large cities, however, we haven’t deforested our province. We’ve simply clearcut our original (old-growth) forests, and regenerated second-growth forests. But these second-growth forests are profoundly different from the forests that were logged, in just about any way you can imagine. They are different structurally and functionally, and they provide little in the way of habitat for the many species that have adapted over millennia to life in old-growth forests. And so perhaps it’s not surprising that BC leads Canada in another category—we have more threatened and endangered species than any other province or territory.
One area that BC doesn’t lead Canada is in protecting old-growth forests and species at risk. We remain one of the few provinces without endangered species legislation. For old-growth forests with very big old trees, only about three percent (approximately 35,000 hectares) remains today outside of protected areas. That’s certainly splendour diminished.
The NDP government’s own Old Growth Panel called for a deferral on logging on BC’s most at-risk old-growth forests within six months of publication of its report. It’s been more than a year now, a year during which the rate of old-growth logging has accelerated considerably. The NDP government promised endangered species legislation for our province, but has subsequently changed their mind. While independent scientists (using provincial government inventory data) have clearly documented and mapped how little high productivity old-growth forest remains, the provincial government and industry continue to assure us that there is lots left, and they’re developing a plan. Talk and log.
There’s an urgency to this issue—every week fewer of these iconic forests remain.
Fortunately, more and more people are rejecting the “relax, we’re on it” message of the provincial government and industry. Instead, they’re listening to what independent scientists are saying, or they’re paying attention to what air photos and satellite images are making abundantly clear. Or perhaps they simply appreciate what they see when they drive the backroads of our province.
For old-growth forests and species-at-risk, there is no objective on-the-ground difference between Christy Clark’s Liberals and John Horgan’s NDP. They share the same legislation and policies. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the NDP promised to be a champion for forests and species, and the Liberals never did. That certainly makes the inaction of the NDP seem all the more appallingly cynical. Activists frustrated at the inaction of our provincial government are beginning to take direct nonviolent action at roadblocks in Fairy Creek and elsewhere.
BC’s natural splendour is certainly diminished. But there are clear opportunities for our governments to protect some of what’s left. For old-growth forests, the recommendations of the government’s own Old Growth Panel report provide an excellent path forward. The NDP have promised to implement these recommendations. Now all that’s required is the political will to keep their promises.
Andy MacKinnon is a forest ecologist who, until his retirement in 2015, worked for the BC Forest Service for three decades. He was responsible for ecosystem classification and mapping and a program of forest ecology research focused on old growth structure and composition, effects of climate change, and BC’s native plants and fungi. He is the co-author of six best-selling books about plants of western North America. He lives in Metchosin and serves as a municipal councillor there.
The February 2021 agreement compensates Pacheedaht for something the Province wanted to do—allow industry to cut down ancient trees. It is not about self-determination.
June 6, 2021
Logging and road building close to the ridge line above pristine Fairy Creek Valley, which can be seen immediately behind the recent clearcut. This is occurring on unceded Pacheedaht traditional territories. (TJ Watt photo)
THIS WEEK PREMIER JOHN HORGAN and Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy released their intentions paper to reform the forestry sector in British Columbia.
During the announcement Premier Horgan talked about Indigenous sovereignty and pointed to the threat of repeating British Columbia’s colonial past. In doing so, the premier illustrated how his government is dragging our colonial past into the present and further entrenching it in the future.
It is shameful for Premier Horgan to invoke the legacy of residential schools to justify his government’s lack of action to protect endangered old growth ecosystems. He said, “If we were to arbitrarily put deferrals in place [at Fairy Creek], that would be a return to the colonialism that we have so graphically been brought back to this week by the discovery in Kamloops.”
It was disturbing to watch Premier Horgan as he proposed reforms for the forestry sector that he knew would place Indigenous people at the centre of protests and further entrench an economic reliance on old growth logging in these communities.
To be clear, a premier who is talking about sovereignty and pointing to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), which refers to the right to self-determination, should not be using the same transactional agreements as the former BC Liberal government that expressly did not believe in Indigenous sovereignty. But this is what the government continues to do.
The agreement that the Province of British Columbia signed with Pacheedaht First Nation on February 17, 2021, is a Forest and Range Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreement. This is the same model of agreement that the BC Liberals created and used.
For years, the BC NDP loudly criticized the BC Liberals for these transactional forestry agreements. The BC NDP of the past were correct to criticize this approach because it epitomizes the colonial approach Premier Horgan claims he moved away from by passing DRIPA.
Nowhere in these take it or leave it agreements is United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or DRIPA mentioned. Given what the Courts have said about Aboriginal title—that it is real, meaningful, and territorial in nature—such minimal agreements that provide limited benefits, do not affirm the human rights of Indigenous peoples, or recognize their rights, is a continuing expression of the legacy of colonialism.
This approach is just as reprehensible and unprincipled today as it was in the past.
There is nothing in the agreement that demonstrates this government is embracing Indigenous sovereignty.
This agreement clearly benefits the Province of British Columbia “to assist in achieving stability and greater certainty for forest and range resource development on Crown lands within the Traditional Territory.”
It’s not about self-determination. These agreements compensate Indigenous Nations for activities that the Province desires to undertake—not the other way around.
There are clauses in the agreement that commit Pacheedaht to “not support or participate in any acts that frustrate, delay, stop or otherwise physically impede or interfere with provincially authorized forest activities.”
Further, the contract commits Pacheedaht to “promptly and fully cooperate with and provide its support to British Columbia in seeking to resolve any action that might be taken by a member of First Nation that is inconsistent with this Agreement.” Does that sound like self-determination to you?
I find section eight of the agreement particularly hard to read. The First Nation must provide the Province with a list of socio-economic priorities, it must keep the list current, and each year the community must provide an annual report to the province “identifying all the expenditures made from the “Payment Account.” They must make these priorities publicly available, and finally, “British Columbia may, at its sole discretion and at the sole expense of Pacheedaht First Nation, require an audit of the expenditures made from the Payment Account to determine that all such expenditures were made in furtherance of the purposes and objectives.”
This section plays on an old stereotype that Indigenous people cannot be trusted with land or money. How can Premier Horgan say he is advancing sovereignty and self-determination and have such a clause in an agreement, especially one that was just signed in 2021—18 months after DRIPA was passed?
For decades Pacheedaht and other Indigenous Nations toiled, negotiating modern treaties in good faith with the Provincial and Federal Crown governments. Those negotiations went nowhere, as was the intention of the Crowns. So Indigenous leaders, struggling to lift their people and communities out of poverty, can hardly be criticized for signing these revenue sharing agreements when the Crown offers them.
When Premier Horgan invokes words like sovereignty to free up a little space as he feels increasing heat for his lack of action on protecting old growth, he does Indigenous people and all British Columbians a great disservice.
If Premier Horgan truly believed in sovereignty, he would not advance these BC Liberal-era agreements. Instead, he would be referencing the Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in decision from June 2014. The decision would feature prominently in his forest sector intentions paper, and it would form the core of forest and range agreements with Indigenous Nations.
To repeat it again—the agreement with Pacheedaht was signed in February 2021. So instead of negotiating an agreement that provides economic alternatives to logging, provides real choice to the nation, and enables the conservation of the endangered old growth in Pacheedaht traditional territory, the Provincial government negotiated an agreement that almost assured that those ancient trees would be cut.
This situation illustrates how deeply disingenuous the government has been as the tension in our forests continues to grow. Rather than offer conservation solutions, the BC NDP are effectively using BC Liberal policy to put Indigenous Nations in the centre of conflicts and use the language of reconciliation to cover for their inaction.
Clearly, colonialism is alive and well in Premier Horgan’s government.
Adam Olsen (SȾHENEP) is Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, and a member of Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP).
Correspondent "Yellow Cedar" reports from inside the old-growth blockades
June 2, 2021
UP AT FAIRY CREEK, known to the Pacheedaht as Ada’itsx, while trying to protect the forest, I find myself bearing witness to the current relationship between Indigenous peoples and our mainstream society. I would like to put some thoughts on your table to help us toward reconciliation.
As I file this story, news of the discovered bodies of 215 First Nations children at the residential school in Kamloops is breaking hearts across our nation. If we wish to make peace, we have a long way to go, and must acknowledge that racism in Canada is not all in the past.
I hear many of my white middle class family saying: “I feel constrained to come to Fairy Creek because Indigenous people don’t want us there.”
I celebrate the soul searching, but people’s good intentions are being manipulated by a “divide and conquer” strategy, an example of which is a letter published by the elected Pacheedaht Council saying we are unwelcome. This letter has been traced back to a request from the Premier’s office for the Council to fulfill their contractual obligations not to interfere with the destruction of their forest heritage, for some cash. Why were they placed in this position?
True reconciliation will begin when First Nations get what they have never had in BC: a percentage of the profits from resource extraction, veto power over projects in their territories, and first dibs on the jobs in their communities.
Instead, Premier John Horgan, in his new “Modernizing Forest Policy” document, inverts reality by using First Nations as a human shield and blaming them for his job-killing, ecosystem-killing forest policies; by saying he can’t protect old growth or stop clearcutting without consulting First Nations. Sierra Club BC summarized it as “Orwellian” and “talk and log.” Horgan’s “Old Growth Protection Strategy” is a bald lie, as bald as the hillsides of BC.
John Horgan’s Old Growth Protection Plan at work near Caycuse (photo by Dawna Mueller)
The issues confuse most people, because most Canadians don’t know that hereditary chiefs have traditional control over what happens in their territories, but elected chiefs—a construct of the Indian Act of 1876—have control over what happens on reserves and the cash flow from government.
Industry and government throw money at the elected chiefs to get them to sign off on mines, pipelines and clearcutting, but these activities generally take place outside the reserves, in the territories, which should require sign-off from hereditary chiefs.
When the Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs signed off on the pipeline, and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs blockaded it, John Horgan refused to dialogue, and used the RCMP to smash their resistance.
First Nations are not a couple of elected chiefs. First Nations are a people. And with all his talk about consultation, the premier has rejected calls to sit down and talk with Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones at Fairy Creek.
So, on Saturday, May 29, at Waterfall Camp, Pacheedaht leaders Grannie Rose, Kati George-Jim, and Bill Jones brought Victor Peters, whom Jones says is the true hereditary chief of Pacheedaht First Nation, to the police line which denies Pacheedaht citizens access to Waterfall Camp, and declared:
“I ask you, police man, to escort my chief to where he needs to go—these territories. He needs access to his lands to care for the old growth. You’ve been draining this territory for 200 years. You have cut all our timber with no remorse. You are invaders. I say to you: Clear the way, to escort my chief.”
Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones speaks with RCMP near Waterfall Camp
Jones was calling out the RCMP, and John Horgan who sent them, but all around him in the forest, and down in River Camp, 1,500 people, mostly settlers, had come to Fairy Creek in support, to stand with the “tall standing ones” and our First Nations.
Bill wrote this invitation, which you can read here. Please read it. It is short, eloquent, and moving. It begins with an exhortation to walk in the woods, and it ends with an exhortation to walk in the woods. You are invited. If you come down to Fairy Creek, you don’t need to get arrested. Come to build relationships with First Nations people, support them, and listen to their teachings.
That evening at the 7:00 pm welcome circle at HQ below River Camp, Rueben George (grandson of Chief Dan George), spoke. He is Sacred Trust Manager of the Tsleil Waututh Nation. He urged us to build relationships between ourselves and the land. He told us how he buried the placenta that nourished each of his children in the womb, near their home, and planted a tree over it, so they could come home any time in their lives, to find their roots.
Rueben George of Tsleil Waututh Nation
I was born in Toronto, raised my children in Guelph, and my daughter lives in the Yukon. Rueben’s words uncovered for me a great sense of loss—that I have no generational connection to place. Our bodies have settled here, but not our souls.
But Rueben invited us to join with the land wherever we live, and shared his traditional knowledge of how trees talk to each other and support each other in times of need. He called this a reciprocal relationship. He pointed up to the ridge line of Fairy Creek, and told us that every gift of love we give the land, will give us so much love and strength back.
I know this is true, because I have felt it at Fairy Creek.
One night around the camp fire I observed how committed everyone was to non-violence. “This has gone up a level from just non-violence—everyone’s hearts are full of Peace.” We puzzled over the mystery of this, until someone said: “I think it is seeping up out of the ground, from the trees.”
LIKE MANY, I CRIED TEARS OF JOY watching the BC Legislature sign UNDRIP into law. Maybe humanity was moving forward!
A month later, Premier John Horgan’s government created the RCMP Community Industry Response Group (CIRG), a tactical squad, who are authorized to use “lethal oversight” to crush community resistance to industrial resource extraction. UNDRIP was just a photo-op for Mr Horgan.
Regular detachment RCMP officers are required to enforce laws as neutrals, without interference from politicians. That is why the civil disobedience at Clayoquot Summer was a relatively “civil” affair.
When officers are collected from all over the province into a CIRG, by declaration of a “provincial emergency,” their mandate pits them against communities, on the side of industry. The RCMP have enough trouble with systemic racism, but initiatives like CIRG destroy any credibility they have left.
Because where do we do all our resource extraction? First Nations unceded territories.
RCMP officers face Indigenous warrior matriarchs at Caycuse (photo by Arvin Singh Dang/ @arvinoutside)
This same CIRG group is now at Fairy Creek, using illegal “exclusion zones” that are being challenged by the Canadian Association of Journalists, and false arrest practices that have outraged the BC Civil Liberties Association. They are even turning away biologists documenting endangered species at Fairy Creek, claiming “public safety” as an excuse.
While a small minority of the logging community have slashed tires and assaulted First Nations youth, the constant stream of violent, racially-fuelled behaviour from the RCMP is more appalling.
I went to Fairy Creek to save trees, but I’ve spent most of my time intervening between First Nations youth and cops.
I watched a peaceful young woman, a minor, manhandled so harshly that her shirt ripped open, exposing her breasts to 30 armed male police. Her arrest was unlawful, and the assault on her dignity unnecessary. When she asked “Who are you serving?” they slammed the steel paddy wagon door in her face.
I have dug deep to try and understand this behaviour. It is tactically foolish and morally wrong. As a sports coach, I am good at uncovering motivation, but I simply couldn’t understand it until I sat down to write this column.
The police didn’t touch the 100 white elders who came down last week. And they were civil while they arrested me. Yet they are repeatedly singling out First Nations for violence. Why?
Because they know they can get away with it.
First Nations and other marginalized youth don’t have the resources to shadow box with some “complaint commission,” which they know will side with police. Their experience is grounded in the knowledge that Chantel Moore was one of three Tla-o-qui-aht youth from her small village who have been shot to death by police or died in police custody in the last year. Less than 200 population, 3 children dead in separate incidents, one year. This is not random.
After the arrests, I said to one young man with quite dark skin, “This is why the RCMP have lost everyone’s faith.” He replied calmly, “This is why they are so hated.” There was no hatred in his voice, just an acceptance of the reality of his life: “Don’t let the cops get you alone.”
But reconciliation is being practised at Fairy Creek, by the forest defenders.
The Rainforest Flying Squad Legal Support Team is painstakingly documenting dozens of police violations, including “racist, trans or queer-phobic, or misogynistic incidents.” These will be presented to Justice Verhoeven to ask for his help in restraining police while they enforce his injunction, and used to support legal challenges and official complaint procedures.
As well, realizing Indigenous peoples need to have control over their own resources, the forest defenders have started a separate GoFundMe page to prioritize protection of First Nation youth from targeted RCMP activity, and give First Nations resources to free them from what Bill Jones describes as “predatory lending and predatory agreements that have shackled his people with unsupportable debt, impoverished his people, and destroyed the forest they consider to be their mother.”
The rest of us can accept their invitation and that of Elder Bill Jones to come to Fairy Creek to try and shield the forest and our youth from violence.
Myself, I have chosen to go to jail because our leadership has failed us and we have no time to waste. When elected leaders make mistakes, we must listen instead to the voice inside us which knows right from wrong. We are all Indigenous to this planet. We are all family.
One more thought on building healthy relationships between our cultures.
Some people are uncomfortable with the term “settler.” Being uncomfortable with a term is a good sign. It means we are learning something new. “Settler” is not meant as a pejorative, but simply as an identifier, to bring clarity, to enable dialogue. Here is why the term makes sense to me.
Indigenous peoples live for a long time in fixed territories. To regulate their relationships with their neighbours, they greet each other at the boundary. Let me demonstrate, with my own statement.
“Hi, my name is Yellow Cedar. My Scottish ancestors came here when the English banned our culture and language, massacred us with superior technology, burned our crofts, and put the survivors on boats for Canada. Needing a place to live, we settled in your territories, for which we are grateful.
“In this time of emergency, I respectfully enter Pacheedaht Territory, invited by Elder Bill Jones, to help protect both the forest and people, whom I consider my family, from irreparable harm done by corporations and governments beyond both of our control.”
Bringing a gift is a traditional greeting when entering a territory. At Fairy Creek, the gift to bring is your self. True reconciliation is born in people’s hearts, one by one. How can we build this if we are isolated from each other?
Rainbow Eyes, the first on the Fairy Creek blockades to be arrested (photo by Dawna Mueller)
Rainbow Eyes was the first to be arrested. You can see in her eyes that she knows what she is up against, but also the depth of her resolve. Will you come down to Fairy Creek to stand with her, laugh and cry with her, learn from her leadership, and help protect her from violence?
Yellow Cedar is a writer based on Canada’s West Coast. See his earlier entries, including about his first arrest, here and here.
Rainforest Flying Squad statement in response to violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples, civil liberties, and human rights by RCMP in the Caycuse forest area, on Ditidaht First Nation Territory
May 27, 2021
ARRESTS IN THE CAYCUSE EXCLUSION ZONE on Tuesday May 25 2021 and the various restrictions that have been placed on media, legal observers, local Indigenous peoples and the general public during RCMP enforcement actions are an illegal and extrajudicial use of force, according to legal representatives for the Rainforest Flying Squad.
Lawyer Noah Ross, who represents the Rainforest Flying Squad says that “The RCMP enforcement zone actions arguably violate the civil rights—including the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression—of those seeking to protect old-growth forests.
“This is further exacerbated by the fact that the lion’s share of the arrests in question were dropped, and led to no charges.
“When the underlying issue is one of ecological health and colonial injustice, the RCMP and government should approach civil liberties violations cautiously, or they will be seen to stand on the side of industry and frontier colonialism,” Ross added.
The so-called “exclusion zone” was enforced by armed checkpoints on public roads located on the traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation.
On May 25th, about 45 people arrived at Caycuse to peacefully protest the wide and arbitrary exclusion zone established there by the RCMP, and to hold a vigil for the Ancient Forests.
They included RFS members as well as many public supporters. Among these were a group of Indigenous youth from various nations, elders, and an individual who wanted to show her support for a few hours before returning to the bedside of a dying relative.
One RCMP vehicle arrived on site and officers requested that the road be cleared or civil disobedience charges would be laid. This message was delivered over a loudspeaker but was not audible for many of the people who were present.
Police liaisons approached the RCMP vehicle and requested to speak with members from the RCMP Division Liaison Team (DLT) to find out where peaceful protestors could go to continue their vigil.
Instead of replying, 10-15 RCMP vehicles rapidly pulled up and, without prior warning, RCMP officers immediately began violently arresting people. They seemed to focus first on those wearing high-visibility vests, such as legal observers and police liaisons.
At least 42 people present at the site of the Caycuse exclusion zone were arrested that day.
After these first arrests at around 8:30 AM, RCMP officers corralled the others, and announced that every person remaining was also under arrest. All had been standing peacefully off the road. Some were detained in the corral until about 7:30 PM before being transported to Lake Cowichan RCMP station, without food or support for over 13 hours. The final arrestees were not released until 10:30 PM.
The RCMP did not read the injunction to the people on the road. They did give a fair warning to withdraw from the road, and at the time arrests started, protestors were in the process of trying to learn where they should go to safely continue their vigil. Despite following orders to move, all present were arrested anyway. Clearly they were not in breach of the injunction.
There appears to have been overt misconduct by the RCMP. Unjustified force was used on numerous individuals who were peaceful and in no way resisting arrest. As well, there are accounts that RCMP officers targeted and threatened Indigenous and BIPOC youth.
One young woman of colour said an RCMP officer tried to rip off her hijab. Multiple others said they were threatened by police to have their piercings cut out. A small, 18-year-old police liaison cried out in pain when she was roughly grabbed by four or five officers and brought to her knees. She cried out “I’m a minor!” and was not resisting arrest.
Without cause or reason, all vehicles belonging to the protestors were towed about three kilometres down the road. None of these vehicles were blocking the road. Protestors were told they could access their vehicles after their release but might have to pay Teal Jones for the cost of the towing.
Over the past 10 days the RCMP have made approximately 104 arrests total in the Fairy Creek and Caycuse area. Fifty-four people were arrested but released without charges, and another 50 people have been charged for civil contempt of court and/or obstruction of justice.
Individuals have been detained for 13 hours or more before release, yet almost all arrestees have been released without charges.
The exclusion zone was set up on May 17th, 2021. It preceded the enforcement of the injunction at the Caycuse Forest Protection camp the following day.
At that time, forest defenders on site were given 24 hours to leave even if they were not blockading or violating the terms of the injunction in any way.
DLT officers informed them that anyone remaining on site at the time of enforcement -- including Indigenous peoples on their own territory, media, legal observers, police liaisons, medics and witnesses -- would be arrested if they chose to stay.
The RCMP stated that this exclusion zone is justified: "The primary concerns of the police are public safety, police officer safety, and preservation of the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest, within the terms set by the Supreme Court in the injunction."
However, Ross states that the exclusion zone is not in keeping with the geographic scope and terms of the April 1st, 2021 Injunction Order given by Justice Verhoeven, which specifically allows for peaceful protest within the injunction area.
He adds that “the Injunction stipulates that only those directly interfering with logging activity, or within 50 metres of company equipment, are subject to arrest.”
Limiting public access to the injunction area directly undermines the safety of those peacefully protesting within the exclusion zone. They are left vulnerable and without witnesses.
“The RCMP has repeatedly announced to the media and public that there was no planned enforcement on a given day, and used this to deny access for everyone including members of the press -- while proceeding to enforce the injunction and make arrests,” Ross said.
At the checkpoint on both days of action, the RCMP arbitrarily moved the exclusion zone line, with the effect of criminalizing peaceful public protest and severely limiting press freedom.
Furthermore, RCMP ignored reports of logging activity within very unsafe distances from forest defenders who were still on site.
Finally, the RCMP denies access for Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nation members to large parts of their unceded territory without free, prior and informed consent or a clear and properly communicated plan to facilitate their entry into the so-called exclusion zone.
“The fact that, at the same time, the RCMP actively enables industry to inflict further violence on the land speaks clearly to the state’s complicity in ongoing colonialism,” said Elder Bill Jones, a member of the Pacheedaht First Nation. Jones has welcomed the Rainforest Flying Squad and its supporters to help him protect the old-growth forests at Fairy Creek since last August.
These concerns are shared by a number of other groups, including a coalition of media and the Canadian Association of Journalists which is initiating their own court challenge.
On May 20th, the BC Civil Liberties Association released an open letter condemning the Caycuse exclusion zone.
The RCMP was censured in 2019 by its internal Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the use of exclusion zones on Wet’suwet’en and Elsipogtog territory (see here for a link to a recent Ricochet news publication regarding this issue, and here to a link to the letter from the CRCC). In a statement, The Canadian Association of Journalists also called on the courts to limit the powers of the RCMP in granting injunctions in order to protect the freedom of the press.
—Rainforest Flying Squad
Correspondent "Yellow Cedar" reports from inside the old-growth blockades
May 27, 2021
ON SATURDAY, MAY 22, I WAS STANDING PEACEFULLY before an RCMP roadblock set up near the intersection of Caycuse Main and Maclure Main, with 100 citizens. We were warming our hearts around a sacred fire, bearing witness as a young Pacheedaht woman sang in her own language, songs of healing and resistance, in response to being savagely beaten by three male white police.
It was a powerful and moving moment.
The young woman put her drum down, and explained that she had just been ordered to leave the public space we stood in, because the RCMP had arbitrarily declared it to be an “exclusion zone” around the injunction against active logging in Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 46.
Citizens protesting the legality of the RCMP exclusion zone at Caycuse (photograph supplied anonymously)
Because the active logging was 9 miles away, and the injunction specifically states “50 metres from active logging and machinery,” she told us that she considered these exclusion zones, which are meant to protect citizens at crime scenes, to be an abuse of police discretion. She wished to exercise her rights and freedoms under the Charter and “stand here.”
I asked, “May I stand with you?” She smiled and said “Yes.”
Twenty of us got up and linked arms at her side. Thirty armed police engulfed us in an arrest wave from the rear. Moms with strollers scattered, children ran for safety. One seven year old said “Mom, I want to stay.”
When two burly officers used unnecessary force to hustle an Indigenous woman still tending the fire away, I stepped forward, and extended my hands out to an officer, to facilitate handcuffs. He said “would you like to be arrested?”
What a question! Well, “yes and no.”
What I would like, is for Premier Horgan to start practicing sustainable forestry, so we can stop killing 8 loggers a year in clearcuts, and rebuild the 40 percent of forestry jobs we just lost to mechanization.
What I would like, is not to be complicit while my species causes an entire bioregion to go extinct.
But time was short, so I said “I’m with her.” And so I was.
The old-growth at stake—these trees in Caycuse area are likely gone now (photography by Will O'Connell)
From my paddy wagon seat, I watched the muscular white male police officer slam the much smaller female Indigenous fire-tender through the small steel-framed opening, and heard the sickly thump of her head hitting the steel wall.
I heard him hiss: “You just assaulted a police officer,” so that she would realize if she laid a complaint, he would claim she was “resisting arrest.” Her Indigenous word, against his white male professional word. She knows how that will turn out. She kept quiet, so it wouldn’t get worse.
Racist violence is alive and well in Canada. At least in Alabama, it’s on the table, and Black Lives Matter. Here in BC we sweep it under the rug, and RCMP officers at Fairy Creek (Ada’itsx), are wearing Blue Lives Matter ribbons.
Nine of us, perhaps five identifying as white, spent the next six hours, the first two without water, being softened up, and having our resistance gauged, by seven different officers. The door would open. “You’ll never be able to cross a border again. Just try getting a job with a criminal record.” Slam. An hour later, “By the way, it’s a long weekend, so you’ll be in jail until Tuesday, but who knows, maybe the judge is busy, or on vacation. And this is no nice little jail.”
One of us replied: “Uh, the ventilation fan is broken, and its about 35 degrees in here, can you just leave the door open a crack for air?” “You should have thought of that before you committed a criminal act.” Slam.
“Under the uniforms, the RCMP are people, but their military culture has dehumanized them. They suffer from police brutality too.” (photograph by Dawna Mueller)
The police had tacked on a criminal charge of “mischief” to the civil charge of violating the injunction so they could threaten us with criminal records.
Then the door opens, and “good cop” brings us one tiny water bottle for three, and says: “Hey, if you sign here, you can walk free, once we drive you to Cowichan Lake.” Someone replies, “Can you give us a lift back down the 100 kilometres of logging roads to our car?” “No, that’s Uber.”
Despite myself, I smiled. Under the uniforms, the RCMP are people, but their military culture has dehumanized them. They suffer from police brutality too.
Most of us were prepared to go to jail, so we could try and convince a judge that our need as humans to slow the rate of species extinction is more pressing than the need of Teal Cedar to profit from that extinction.
If we succeed, the judge can use their discretion to “be kind” with the sentence. If we don’t, we can get 90 days in jail for singing in a public road.
And while we sat in the wagon deliberating, six species went extinct on our planet.
After all of that, and so much more, just before midnight, I walked up to the intake window at RCMP Cowichan Lake, where the local detachment officer stood frozen and mute. Puzzled, I smiled to reassure him, and said words to the effect of “Book’em Dano, TFL 46.” He blinked. The officer who assaulted the Indigenous fire tender said “Get out of here, we’re not charging you.”
I asked to be charged. He refused, and hustled me out of the building.
Police have discretion to apprehend a suspect, and release them. George Floyd (may he rest in honoured peace), handed a store clerk a counterfeit $20 bill. But was he a counterfeiter? Maybe someone gave him the bill? If things hadn’t gone so wrong, police procedure was to apprehend him, investigate, and decide if charges were warranted, or just record the incident, and release him.
But at Caycuse, the RCMP had 30 officers present to witness and testify in court that we were in the injunction zone. We were told to leave, and refused. There was no doubt. Why keep us in a paddy wagon for six hours, and drive us 100 kilometres, to release us?
Then the penny dropped. They never had any intention of booking us. If 1,000 citizens go to jail, the trees win. If 20 citizens go to jail, the logging corporation wins.
But why are the RCMP spending millions of public dollars to help the logging company win? Why weren’t they just doing their jobs and enforcing the injunction? The betrayal of being lied to by seven police officers all day shocked me more than I expected.
And then the bag of pennies dropped. I realized this was not just any ordinary civil disobedience, like the Votes for Women campaign, or so many others, that won us everything good in society.
This is a real War in the Woods.
After Tzeporah Berman, now director of Stand.earth, was arrested, she said “Compared to this, Clayoquot Summer was the Picnic in the Woods.”
After a little digging, I discovered that the Rainforest Flying Squad is facing an elite RCMP “Clearcutting Flying Squad,” led by Dave Attfield, the Gold Commander who oversaw the raid at the Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidimt’en Territory.
A BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) press release, which you can read here, details how this Community Industry Response Group (CIRG) was originally created at Premier John Horgan’s request, requiring the declaration of a state of “provincial emergency” under the Provincial Police Service Agreement.
A state of emergency, that the public was not informed of.
As a citizen, I’d like to know:
Is this the same squad, or a new one?
Does the “provincial emergency” or CIRG, have an end date?
Is the CIRG audited? What are our costs?
The name “Community Industry Response Group” makes it sound like a reconciliation effort. To date, the squad’s activities have all been to suppress communities to facilitate industry, at taxpayer’s expense.
I consider this deployment to be a conflict of interest, as TFL 46 is in John Horgan’s riding, and the forestry workers who are benefitting in the short term represent votes for John. A judge who owned shares in Teal Cedar would recuse himself from our trials.
Using a military group to crush dissent is something I expect from China, not British Columbia. This unit has helicopters and a SWAT team. At Wet’suwet’en, they were authorized to use lethal force, indirectly as “lethal oversight,” as reported in this article in The Guardian. At Caycuse, they have threatened to shoot the tree sitters out of the trees with snipers.
In response, some sitters came down, some refused. I watched a tree sitter who climbed down, and was released, lying back in the arms of her support group, sobbing and crying for an hour. “And then they…” more tears… “and then....”
She could hardly get a full sentence out until she was completely overwhelmed, her body wracked with convulsive sobs.
She poses no threat to life or property. She is not a criminal. The forest defenders are scrupulously non-violent. She’s just a kid, about the same age as my daughter, who climbed into a tree to protect the ecosystem she lives in, full of ancient trees that have no voice of their own.
The BCCLA has written an open letter to the Province stating that “the RCMP’s actions are…an inconsistent, arbitrary, and illegal exercise of police discretion to block members of the public, including legal observers and the media, from accessing the area.”
Forest defender holds up Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (photograph by Dawna Mueller)
The Canadian Association of Journalists is calling on courts to limit the discretionary powers of police to enforce injunctions, because “police have failed again and again” to respect the Charter. Forest Defenders will be asking our judge for this protection in our trials. If we can get a trial!
John Horgan has a lot to answer for. I believe he should start by apologizing to the Fairy Creek Forest Protectors, and then:
Disband the RCMP Community Industry Response Group.
Declare a provincial emergency to protect BC’s Ancient Temperate Rainforest Biome, which is critically endangered.
Ensure unrestricted access for media, international observers, and citizens.
Come out of hiding and start providing some leadership.
Create an environment for dialogue by declaring a temporary moratorium on TFL-46, compensate the families of the loggers for lost time, provide other logs for the Pacheedaht sawmill, and sit down with the Forest Defenders to talk.
The tragedy, is that this war in the woods is completely unnecessary.
Here in BC, we are lucky to have the foremost forest scientist in the world—Dr Suzanne Simard. She has just published her first book, Finding the Mother Tree, and has initiated the Mother Tree Project to prove that we could have double the forestry jobs by practicing woodlot forestry that preserves a forest’s biomass.
She’s putting “Peace In The Woods” on a plate for us by creating a scientific forestry blueprint for healing our ruined clearcuts, and turning them back into old growth, which the Forest Service should have done before they started clearcutting. Eco Foresters call it “single tree selective forestry.” Loggers call it “hand logging.”
Hey John—more forestry jobs means more votes for you. Maybe it’s time to park the helicopters, and pick up the phone.
Yellow Cedar is a West Coast BC-based writer.
Correspondent "Yellow Cedar" reports from inside the old-growth blockades
May 26, 2021
“HI MY NAME IS DOUG,” the engaging young man at the gate says. “That would be Doug Fir, I presume?” I inquired, echoing the Stanley and Livingston greeting in a forest far away now in time and space. Perhaps his funky home-made tree costume gave him away. The people here have a twinkle in their eye, and fun is never far away.
The spirit of Emma Goldman dances in their revolution.
I arrived in Camp last night to careful scrutiny as a potential RCMP infiltrator, a warm welcome, and an exhortation to bring my Self to the Movement. There are no mistakes in forest activism. There is no one path, and no Shining Path. Each of us make our own choices about how we are called to civil disobedience, and what our lives can support.
I sat around the camp fire with “Rainbow Eyes,” after her first arrest, and before mine, discussing whether we might or might not get criminal records, and whether we should let Fear be the deciding factor, or Courage. “You know what Winston Churchill said about that,” someone chimed in.
Myself, the only Fear I have is caused by the 2019 UN Report on Biodiversity telling me that 25 species will go extinct today, in large part due to the clearcut deforestation taking place at Fairy Creek, and all over BC.
Clearcuts in the Caycuse River area, near blockades (photograph by Dawna Mueller)
Apparently, when we get our day in court, the judge will balance my right to peaceful protest, and the severity of my need, against the right of the Corporation to make profit without interference, and the severity of their need. A human, against a non-human. The non-human seems to win every time.
Why is that?
And the forest has no rights. The ecosystem has no rights. “The only stream around here with rights and freedoms, is the corporate income stream.”
We need to change this.
I will admit that I have broken the injunction. I will not sign the “promise not to return” waiver. My promise is to return, and return again, in an endless cycle of Arrest, Court, Judge, Arrest, Court, Judge, until they stop. “Rinse and repeat.”
I will rest my defence on the urgency of our need to take action. The “Greta Thunberg defence”—Pawn to Queen 4. I have a daughter just her age—a young ecosystem scientist.
I will close my summary to the judge by saying that if an assailant broke into my house at night and threatened my daughter, I would follow the explicit instructions of no less than Gandhi himself, and take him down by whatever means necessary. If I did, the RCMP would arrive and say “good job,” and no judge would take the assailant’s side.
Today, I will peacefully attempt to stop an assailant from causing my daughter and her generation imminent and catastrophic harm. The RCMP will hand cuff me and take me to jail. As I calmly and reasonably inform the arresting officers that clearcutting is deforestation, and deforestation is causing species extinction, they might just say: “Tell it to the judge”.
And that is exactly what I will do.
In fact: “Make my day.” 🙂
Yellow Cedar is a West Coast BC-based writer. Watch for Part II: 6 hours in a paddy wagon.
This new front in the logging industry’s continued misguided self-justification is sadly predictable. When you have been bull-shitting for 70 years, it’s hard to suddenly become a straight-shooter.
The basic underlying premise of this report, that logging at the scale being practiced in BC is “sustainable”, is certifiable nonsense. Just because the Canadian logging industry created and funds a “certification” industry that then gives the logging industry a guaranteed stamp of approval doesn’t hide or undo the damage the industry is doing:
Through logging's associated carbon emissions and consequential reduction in the natural level of carbon sequestration, the industry is making an over-sized contribution to global heating and climate instability. That's not sustainable.
Clearcutting eliminates practically all biodiversity in the area of a clearcut. Allowing several thousand clearcuts every year relentlessly reduces biodiversity over a wide swathe of BC—200,000 to 250,000 hectares—every year. That's not sustainable.
The growing prevalence of those clearcuts raises forest fire hazard above the level of a mature or old forest. The plantations that follow the clearcuts raise the fire hazard even higher, in many cases for decades. The result is a frightening new era of forest fires that are initially harder to control, grow faster, and lead to larger fires and exponentially higher carbon emissions. That growing area of logged and burned forest is resulting in more frequent and more devastating flooding. All of this is made worse by the increased temperature, longer periods of drought and higher wind speeds resulting from climate change—each of which, in turn, are made worse by the scale of logging in BC. None of this is sustainable.
The industry is also liquidating BC's old forests to far below levels needed to sustain biodiversity, claiming that plantations will, in the distant future, turn into new old-growth forests. This notion, that a future logging industry would somehow be more responsible than the current industry and will allow nature to recover, is nonsensical. Thinking nonsense isn't sustainable.
The only aspect of logging at the scale being undertaken in BC that can be counted on in the future is the damage the industry does. The foolish course adjustments the industry is now taking—including green-washing reports like this one—will only make it more likely that damage will be sustained.
So let’s dispose of the underlying premise of this report, that the 85 percent of wood used in making pellets that comes from "sawmill and harvest residuals" is somehow “sustainable”. It isn’t.
And what about the 15 percent the report claims comes from “low-quality logs and bush grind rejected by other industries”?
Bull-shitting is a slippery slope. Only someone sliding uncontrollably down that slope would be unable to recognize that calling a natural forest “low-quality logs” or "bush grind" is the kind of semantic invention that occurs just before the inventor falls over the edge into the abyss.
That so much waste is being created that it needs a new industry to grind and burn it away is a situation that arises only because the scale of logging that has been occurring in BC is so vast. Eighty-five to ninety percent of that waste is created to provide cheap wood products for other countries, mainly for the US, China and Japan. As a result of that relentless over-cut—combined with the long decline in the market for pulp and paper—BC mills would be drowning in their own waste were it not for the pellet industry.
But the solution to that overwhelming level of waste is not to grow a green-washed pellet industry. When burned for thermal energy, pellets produce as much carbon emissions per unit of energy generated as does coal. Coal! Pellets are a solution to nothing but the logging industry's embarrassment of widespread waste.
The only solution for an industry drowning in waste from the over-cutting of publicly owned forests is for government to reduce industrial access to those forests. Logging should be limited to only what British Columbians need for their own use.
The old road that failed above Duffey Lake is a branch of the "Steep Creek Forest Service Road". This is not a gazetted stream name, so someone recognized the hazard rating of the area when it was built. And as far as slides from failed logging roads go, this was just average size
I am very upset reading the article on the logging on Quadra Island, but not surprised. There seems to be complete disregard for old growth trees, they are a valuable commodity for logging companies who are getting very good deals to access our, bc's invaluable assets. When the trees are gone and our biodiversity irreversibly damaged it will be too late to do anything about. it. "...Ministry of Forests’ notoriously inaccurate Vegetation Resource Inventory. It is notorious because it fails miserably at identifying old-growth forest"
Working with information that you know to be inaccurate should be a crime, and Okisollo Resources, who ever they are should be charged, and if convicted should serve time, not just pay a fine.
I am very upset reading the article on the logging on Quadra Island, but not surprised. There seems to be complete disregard for old growth trees, they are a valuable commodity for logging companies who are getting very good deals to access our, bc's invaluable assets. When the trees are gone and our biodiversity irreversibly damaged it will be too late to do anything about. it. "...Ministry of Forests’ notoriously inaccurate Vegetation Resource Inventory. It is notorious because it fails miserably at identifying old-growth forest"
Working with information that you know to be inaccurate should be a crime, and Okisollo Resources, who ever they are should be charged, and if convicted should serve time, not just pay a fine.
I completely agree with everything that these remarkable women say in this interview. It is time to stop playing with ENGOs, participating in the forestry referral process, lobbying government and other energy-sucking and futile diversions. It's time for radical action and educating the public about what is going on in our backyards and how it will affect our collective future. Shame on our public representatives and servants.
thanks so much for your powerful and well-research articles! We (Elders for Ancient Trees) will make sure we highlight your work in our Call Out. If you'd like to receive our monthly missives, just send an email to email@example.com
All great points. Thanks for making them.
Many countries count the carbon emissions from forest loss as part of their national inventory of emissions. As you probably know, Canada opted out of doing this when it signed on to the Kyoto Protocol. But the international convention is to calculate all forest carbon emissions as though they occurred on the date a tree was cut. If that wasn’t done, then there would be no accountability for the eventual emissions from the parts of forest biomass that are slower to decay, like roots. The stumps and roots of trees cut on Vancouver Island in the 1900s are still decaying, but no one is counting those emissions. There are a whole lot of forest carbon emissions from old logging in BC that will never be counted, including in my own calculation of a carbon subsidy.
Climate and forest scientists have discounted the idea that manufactured wood products store large quantities of carbon for long periods of time. The BC ministry of forests' own research shows that manufactured wood products—from wood pellets for burning, to paper and even more durable building materials—have a relatively short life span and storage capacity compared with the life span and storage capacity of the forests those products came from. The ministry’s graph below shows the short-term nature of those products:
Why is “woody debris” counted? In the photograph below, taken by TJ Watt in the Klanawa Valley area of Vancouver Island, a lot of the material piled for burning is “woody debris”. A much more rapid release of emissions is produced by burning such dead structural elements than would have occurred by slow decomposition in a natural forest. In a natural forest, those elements would also have retained large quantities of water over many years, making those forests more resistant to intense burning by forest fires. Removing them effectively insures the plantation that follows will have a greater risk of being burned by a forest fire.
I think your perception that logging slash is not piled and burned anymore may be coming via the forest-industrial complex. This perception is not based on reality, and as more and more second-growth forests are logged, and rotation periods shorten, a higher percentage of the logged biomass will be un-utilizable and will be burned in a slash pile. For almost all logging in BC, logging companies are required by forest regulations to mitigate fire hazard by piling and burning the immense quantities of above-ground slash they create. If they didn’t do this, forest fires in BC would be an even larger problem than they are. The photo below shows a second-growth slash pile on Quadra Island, piled in 2021 by TimberWest. It, and the other 11 piles in a 5-hectare clearcut, has been piled to be burned, most likely this fall.
There are currently attempts to create a new business that removes “logging residuals” and turns them into pellets for thermal energy. But right now only a small percentage of logging slash is removed for such purposes. The incipient pellet industry appears to need to grind up whole trees, including primary forest—and to receive public subsidies for doing that—to be economically viable. The energy produced from wood pellets is even dirtier than burning coal, according to scientists.
You assume that the carbon in all the volume logged is instantly returned to the atmosphere as CO2. But the rate of decomposition depends on what the wood is used for. Pulp might become CO2 fairly quickly, although not if a large percentage of paper/cardboard is recycled. Lumber can last decades or even hundreds of years when used for construction. For coastal old growth this might still be less than the time the trees would have lived. But perhaps not by much. For the interior, the living trees might have decomposed just as soon, if not sooner, than the lumber. Also, why do you count woody debris in the carbon subsidy? That wood was already dead before logging and will be left there after logging (not much slash burning happens anymore, as I understand it). Roots too will decompose quite slowly and I don't think you should have counted 100% of their carbon. Taking into account the shelf life of wood products, and not counting woody debris, would lower your estimate for the carbon subsidy.
Nevertheless, you're probably correct that there is a large carbon subsidy (externality). It's possible that the value of the forestry industry to provincial GDP is currently greater than the combined subsidies, but even if so, it's probably not by much. And the difference will shrink and likely become negative as the price of carbon rises, as you pointed out. I would just like to see revised numbers that take into account the shelf life of wood products.