War of words in the woods

Companies fend off accusations about logging work in DL33

The battle between environmentalists and those cutting down trees in a red listed Coastal Douglas-fir forest in Nanoose Bay continues with new accusations against the forest company purchasing the timber from District Lot 33.

The Wilderness Committee and concerned people were shocked to learn that TimberWest has contracted to buy logs from Snaw-Naw-As Forest Services Ltd which is logging DL33. Wilderness Committee spokesperson Annette Tanner said they also discovered that TimberWest’s contract to purchase the logs exceeds the licence issued by the province.

BC Supreme Court documents filed last week, obtained by the Wilderness Committee, reveal that the company went 2,000 cubic metres of wood, or approximately 65 logging truck loads, over the licensed limit.

“The 15,000 cubic metres in the Forest Licence for DL33 in Nanoose Bay was increased to 17,000 cubic metres in the contract with TimberWest,”  said Tanner, who added, “The additional logging will have a profound effect on the habitat of the many red and blue listed species on the watershed headwaters of two fish-bearing creeks and this information must be provided to the public.”

She said that this flies in the face of the forest company’s forestry practices and pointed out that TimberWest is certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) — which says on its website that: SFI labels are recognized globally and provide a visual cue to help customers source responsibly managed forest products.

TimberWest has stated it has done nothing which goes against it SFI certification commitments. Company spokesperson Sue Handel said TimberWest is supportive of the rights of First Nations to participate in the forest sector and is proud to have a co-operative business relationship with the Nanoose, and other First Nations on Vancouver Island.

“The province made the decision to grant a woodlot license to the Nanoose First Nation, it was a democratic process, and we respect the authority of the Crown,” she said in an e-mail to The News. “TimberWest was not party to this process, however we support the Crown’s decision and First Nation’s right to participate in B.C.’s forest sector.”

Handel added TimberWest is simply purchasing logs, which are being supplied to domestic mills on Vancouver Island. (Coastland, Nanaimo and Long Hoh, between Parksville and Port Alberni).

“The purchase volume is 15,000m3 and it is all second growth. Purchasing logs is a normal part of TimberWest’s business. TimberWest regularly purchases logs from First Nation’s, other private forest landowners, and from government tenure holders.”

Tanner said her group will continue its work to save the rare remnant of what they consider one of the most endangered ecosystems in Canada and to that end she has sought legal council to deal with their group’s latest investigation into the logging plans for the area.

Tanner stated that Coastal Douglas-fir forests on east Vancouver Island are globally imperiled because the ecosystem is on the brink of extinction as most of this forest-type has been permanently removed, leaving the remaining small areas very fragmented and very challenging to connect for wildlife migration of elk and large carnivores.

The First Nation successfully obtained an injunction last Friday, preventing people from interfering with the logging operation.

Tanner said the Wilderness Committee will abide by that ruling.