Course:CONS370/Projects/Old-Growth Logging on Vancouver Island, British Columbia: Assessment of Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations and Non-Indigenous Forest Licence Holders in TFL-46
|Theme: Community Forestry|
|Province/Prefecture: British Columbia|
|City: Vancouver Island|
This conservation resource was created by Samantha Rhodes, Paulina Cikatricis, and Neil Saxvik.
It is shared under a CC-BY 4.0.
Old-growth logging on Vancouver Island has been a controversial issue for many years, and is still contentious today. Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 46, a forest license currently held by the forestry company Teal-Jones located on Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nation’s traditional territories, is subject to the extraction of 200 hectares of old-growth forest. This case study seeks to assess the situation between the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations and non-Indigenous forest license holders. This will include discussing their perspectives on and objectives of old-growth logging, and describing significant events. After reviewing background information, we will discuss successes, failures, as well as critical issues and conflicts of this case study. Finally, we will make four diverse recommendations: transitioning to only harvesting second-growth forests, creating mandatory forest education for forest license holders, implementing co-management scenarios between the Government of BC and First Nations, and prioritizing Indigenous perspectives regarding operations on their territories.
Keywords: Old-growth, Vancouver Island, TFL-46, Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, Teal-Jones
Disclaimer: This is a continuously developing issue, which may result in the availability of new information after the publishing of this case study. Our discussion of this case-study includes events and interpretations of rightsholders' and stakeholders' perspectives up until April 13th, 2021. As more events unfold, new information may become available which could change the power, objectives, as well as critical issues and conflicts regarding the situation on the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht Nation’s territories.
Area of Focus
Both of the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations are located on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia (BC). These two territories are a part of the fourteen traditional territories that make up the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, which are located across the west coast of Vancouver Island . The Ditidaht traditional territory extends from Skutz Falls, which are located at the eastern inland boundary of the territory, along Cowichan Lake and down towards the coastline through Nitinat Lake and many expansive forests . It is situated between Pachena Point on the west and Bonilla Point on the east . Headwater streams and rivers that run into the ocean reside on this land, which are home to many important sustenance resources for the people of this Nation, such as salmon, cod, and halibut . Some of these river systems include the Carmanah River, Cheewhat River, Klanawa River, Darling River, Caycuse River, Nitinat River, Hobarton River, and Doobah River . On the other side of Bonilla Point is where the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation is located . The Pacheedaht traditional territory extends from Bonilla Point on the west to Sheringham Point on the east, and includes the towns that are now called "Port Renfrew" and "Jordan River" . In the past, boundaries between these two territories, as well as others were delineated by large boulders on the beach or by points on the land .
Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations
The Ditidaht and Pacheedaht people have cared for their territorites for thousands of years. Oral tradition states that a long time ago, possibly before the great flood, the original Ditidaht (da7uu7aa7tx) people lived in the Nitinat Lake area . Later, the Ditidaht people were joined by people who came from Tatoosh Island, which was across the Strait of Juan De Fuca, and together they established a settlement . According to other traditional histories, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht ancestors had lived together in a village located on a river named Diitiida, which is also called Jordan River today . During a large flood, some Ditidaht ancestors escaped the high waters by anchoring their canoes to higher ground . Those people ended up residing at Whyac Lake, which was at the outlet of Nitinat Lake going in to the Pacific Ocean . Those flood survivors are the ancestors of the people of the Ditidaht First Nation today, whose name is derived from the name of this river . Other flood survivors returned to Ditiida afterwards, though eventually those people came to and settled in a village near Port San Juan at the mouth of a river called p'a:chi:da, which is now also called the San Juan River . The origin of the name p'a:chi:da for the river, the village located there, and for the Pacheedaht First Nation was described by Chief Queesto Charlie Jones and published in a book called "Queesto, Pacheenaht Chief by Birthright" by Chief Charles Jones and Stephen Bosustow . Chief Jones explained that their band name was changed to the name of the river because, after the Ditidaht people had been living nearby for a long time, they discovered something approximately two miles from the river's mouth . They noticed that there was a lot of foam forming in the water, covering the river banks to about eight feet above the level of the river . Everyone was very excited and curious about the discovery of the foam, so they wanted to taste it . An elderly slave was chosen to taste it, as it was during a time when their people still kept slaves . Men took her up the river and told her to taste the foam but when she did, she said it did not taste like anything other than that it was salty like sea-foam . Since then, they decided that it was sea-foam and that the proper name for it was Pacheeda, which means "sea foam" . Ever since then, they have called themselves the Pacheedaht, which means "Children of the Sea Foam" in English . Back in the day, the boundaries between territories were taken seriously by the Ditidaht people and their neighbours . Often, large boulders on the beach or points on land were used to delineate the borders between neighbouring territories, such as the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht .
The Teal-Jones Group
The Teal-Jones Group (Teal-Jones)is a family business that was established in the early 1900s . However, the Jones family's involvement in the BC forest industry dates back from the current owners to their great-great-grandfather, who pursued a logging career on the west coat of BC in the1860s . Teal-Jones began in 1946, when the founder, Jack Jones, established a cedar roofing mill on Lu Lu Island, New Westminster, BC, after returning from World War II . At this point, the company was called Teal Cedar and was producing cedar roof shingles . In 1962, the company opened a cedar mill in Surrey, BC, which is their primary present day location . In 1969, the sons of Jack Jones, Dick and Tom Jones, bought their father's small operation, Teal Cedar, which was employing 11 people at the time . Between 1970 and 2003, Dick and Tom Jones rapidly expanded the company by building new sawmills and manufacturing plants at their Surrey site, as well as establishing multiple other sawmills and cedar shake and shingle operations across BC . Some of those operations include Columbia River Shake and Shingle in Nakusp, Star Shingle Ltd. in Port Alberni, Cascade Cedar Ltd. in Revelstoke, Teal Cedar Lumber Divison in Salmon Arm, Titan Ridge in Port McNeill, as well as Stag Timber Ltd., M.J.S. Lumber Ltd. (now known as Stag Timber Reman), and J.S. Jones on the Surrey site . They also purchased Boston Bar Mill in the Fraser Canyon and Pitt Lake Logging in the Lower Mainland . During this time, the company's name eventually changed to Teal-Jones . In 1999, they purchased TFL-47, a Timber Forest Licence located on Haida Gwaii and in 2004, they purchased TFL-46, located in the southwest part of Vancouver Island . From 2004 to 2018, Teal-Jones also expanded into the United States, constructing the Sumas Planer Mill in Sumas, Washington, as well as acquiring three southern yellow pine sawmills: one in Antlers, Oklahoma, and two in Virginia . Today, the company is completely owned by sons Tom and Dick Jones and it is one of the largest privately held forest products company operating on the west coast of Canada .
Old-growth forests are extremely valuable ecosystems that provide many ecosystem services to humans, as well as benefits to the wildlife living in or near these forests . Some of these ecosystem services and benefits include atmospheric carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, water and soil protection, flood and erosion control, and providing habitat and shelter for wildlife, such as endangered or at-risk species . There is not a single, all-encompassing definition for what an old-growth forest is, as the features that describe the old-growth forest stage may differ in character and degree depending on the region that the forest is located in and the local definition based on the forest type . The different types of old-growth forests may also vary in terms of the lifespans of the dominant tree species, disturbance regimes, varying levels of human disturbance, shade tolerance, and age structure . However, there are certain universal characteristics that many old-growth forests are known to embody . For late-successional, temperate-zone old-growth forest types, these include: an uneven or multi-aged stand structure with several identifiable age cohorts, the average age of the dominant species is approaching half of the maximum longevity for species, having some old trees that are close to their maximum longevity (ages of 300+ years), the presence of standing dead and dying trees in various stages of decay, the presence of standing dead trees and fallen large wood on the forest floor, natural regeneration of dominant tree species occurring within canopy gaps or on decaying logs, shade-tolerant tree species associations, characterized by small-scale disturbances creating gaps in forest canopy, a natural rotation of stand-replacing disturbances (a period longer than the maximum longevity of the dominant tree species in the forest, minimal evidence of human disturbance, and being in the final stages of stand development before a relatively steady state is reached . Old-growth forests typically have many trees of diverse ages and heights within the same stand, which creates a multi-layered canopy, making them structurally complex . This quality can provide more diverse habitats, and therefore more species . Over time, different species have evolved to live in different levels of the canopy . They also have more gaps in the canopy, which allow for more sunlight to penetrate through. This creates a more productive and diverse understory . A study that investigated plant diversity of understory vascular plants in 40-year-old plantations and old-growth forests in southeastern Vancouver Island found that more vascular plant species were found in the old-growth data, and fewer were supported in the immature and homogenous plantation sites . Habitat heterogeneity was also found to be greater in old-growth forests, in comparison to immature plantations in all site associations . The fallen and standing dead trees in old-growth forests can contribute to this as they provide food, shelter, and moisture for the species living in the forest . Many different types of lichens, mosses, ferns, fungi, and other flora that live on tree bark and branches live in old-growth forests, as they may establish on damaged or decaying trees that are a result of small and large-scale disturbances that occur in old-growth forests . Old-growth forests are also spiritually and culturally important to Indigenous peoples. For example, the western redcedar is referred to as the tree of life by many Indigenous peoples because it was one of the most widely used plant species in many areas of coastal BC . The wood, bark, branches, and roots from the tree were used for many different purposes, such as for making canoes or clothing . In the past, there has also been debate about whether these forests in British Columbia have more value when they are standing, or as resources when they are cut down. A study in 2008 assessed the economics of protecting old-growth forests that inhabited or were known to have been home to the spotted owl, which is one of the most endangered forest-dwelling bird species in North America . This study found that the benefits of preserving old-growth forests in terms of increased recreational opportunities, aesthetic value, non-timber forest products and carbon sequestration outweighed the costs in terms of the value of the lumber harvested from the logs . These ecological, economic, and cultural values of complex old-growth forests could lead to the perspective that they are more valuable when they are intact and standing, compared to when they are cut down as lumber.
Forest Tenure in British Columbia
British Columbia's forest tenure system is comprised of a variety of legislation, regulations, permits and contractual agreements, which are attached to licenses and handed out to interested parties, allowing rights to harvest and manage specific tracts of forested land in the province . This license system operates on the basis that license owners gain harvesting and management rights to set boundaries on forested landscapes and in return, the Crown receives rent, royalties, and stumpage fees from the cuttings to meet the Government of BC's yearly social and economic objectives  .
Of the 60-million hectares of forest covering British Columbia, approximately 95% of it is owned publicly by the people of BC . Aside from Provincial and National Parks, which have their own set of regulatory rules , private companies are able to apply for and buy licenses to operate on these forested tenures across these public lands . The governmental body of BC Timber Sales (BCTS) administers these licenses mainly through competitive auctions . The two primary forms of forest tenure licenses in BC that are handed out by the BCTS fall under the broad categories of Tree Farm Licenses (TFLs), which grant full exclusive rights to a specified area of land, and Volume Based Licenses (VBLs), which grant rights to harvest specific volumes of timber . This study will mainly focus on TFLs, but there are many other way in which forest tenure licenses which can be acquired including, Special Use Permits, Community Forest Agreements, and Free Use Permits . Although BC's tenure system has been continually updated to reflect the changing growth in the industry since its creation in 1940s, the core basis of its values still persist today, which have significantly impacted First Nations' abilities to maintain rights to their inherent forested territories and practice sovereignty by taking control over their forested landscapes .
Forest Tenure on Vancouver Island
The majority of industrial logging on Vancouver Island is conducted through TFLs, whose licensed areas overlap with around half of the 3,175,000 hectares of productive forest that is present on Vancouver Island . The map to the right, produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands Crown Lands Administration Division, provides the mapped areas of all of the TFLs that are located and operate on Vancouver Island. The majority of these TFLs are held by a number of private companies and third parties, with a few being co-managed with First Nations groups .
Forest Tenure on Ditidaht and Pacheedaht Traditional Territory
Historically, forestry practices on Ditidaht and Pacheedaht traditional territories did not involve First Nations groups in partnerships, consent, or revenue sharing. In the 1990s, heavy logging by previous license holders in the area clear-cut large portions of productive forests on their territories leaving the land susceptible to landslides, erosion, damaging local salmon stream ecosystems, drastically affecting the livelihoods of the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht people. Only relatively recently have the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations been able to gain back some recognition of their rights over traditional forests and forest resources on their lands. However, this is no simple task and it has required the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht peoples to go through the lengthy processes and bindings of the colonial system to gain legal power back over their land, instead of being able to simply express their inherent rights to manage it . Outlined below is a few of the tenure agreements and licenses that have been adopted over the past decade between Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations groups, the Province of BC, and other third parties which are specific to forestry on Ditidaht and Pacheedaht territory.
Forest Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreement
In 2017, the Pacheedaht First Nation and the Province of BC signed the Forest Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreement, which authorizes an annual 7,300 cubic meter cut in designated areas of their traditional territories in return for stumpage revenue generated by the timber cuts . In 2018, the Ditidaht First Nation signed the same agreement allowing annual cuts within designated areas of their territories in return for revenue from stumpage .
Ditidaht and Pacheedaht Agreement in Principle
In 2019, the province of BC and the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations negotiated and signed an evolving agreement, which underlies the basis of the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht Treaties. In principle, this document was non-binding, but based upon signing, all parties would begin as soon as it is practical to negotiate and implement the agreement. The agreement included cost sharing agreements, collaborative wildlife suppression, and among other benefits, focused on traditional rights to forestry and management of forest resources on Ditidaht and Pacheedaht territories. The agreement reinforced many key rights that both First Nations groups have in terms of forestry on their traditional territories, including greater control over their forested landscapes and more opportunities for social and economic forest development. Included below are a few signed agreements regarding forestry on traditional lands .
Section 9.1.1: The Treaty will provide that Ditidaht / Pacheedaht owns the Forest Resources on Ditidaht / Pacheedaht Lands .
Section 9.1.2: The Treaty will provide that Ditidaht / Pacheedaht, as owner, has exclusive authority to determine, collect and administer any fees, rents or other charges, except taxes, relating to the harvesting of Forest Resources on Ditidaht / Pacheedaht Lands .
Section 9.2.1: Ditidaht / Pacheedaht may make laws in respect of Forest Resources, Forest Practices and Range Practices on Ditidaht / Pacheedaht Lands .
The Pacheedaht First Nation does not have its own forestry company, but it has entered into partnerships with private companies, other First Nations, and the Government of BC to participate in forestry practices that take place on their traditional territories .
Community Forest License
In 2018, a partnership between the Government of BC, the Pacheedaht First Nations, and the Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative resulted in the creation of the Qala:yit Community Forest License, which now occupies approximately 8,000 hectares of land on traditional Pacheedaht territory. Since the area was previously under BCTS management, BCTS still plays a role in determining the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) for the license, however it has no title to the the land and the land is under Pacheedaht First Nations control with the community forest license. Half of the net revenues from this community license go directly to the communities in the Pacheedaht Nation.
Tree Farm License 61 (TFL - 61)
In 2015, Pacheedaht First Nations and private logging company Andersen Timber entered a 50/50 partnership to purchase 25-years of forest tenure rights to TFL-61, whose areas overlapped with 20,240 hectares of the Pacheedaht traditional territory. Historically, forest tenures and licenses in this area have always been allocated to third parties. As co-owners, both parties receive revenue from all of the logging operations and posses equal influence over how the land should be managed .
The Ditidaht First Nation has their own forestry company called Ditidaht Forestry Ltd., which holds licenses in both TFL-44 and TFL-46. They are additionally presently in negotiations with the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resources as well as Western Forest Products and Teal-Jones to acquire long term forest resources access. They are currently partnered with Timberwest Corporation, Teal-Jones, Western Forest Products and the Ministry of Forest Lands & Natural Resources .
Tree Farm License 46 (TFL - 46)
TFL-46 was created in 1983 and it spans 59,432 hectares overlapping into Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations Territories . Since its creation, the tenure has always been under control of third parties, with Teal-Jones Group as the current owner of tenure, purchasing the 25-year-long TFL in 2012 . Teal-Jones has a revenue sharing agreement with the Ditidaht First Nations on this tenure .
Heritage Conservation Act (HCA)
The Heritage Conservation Act (HCA) is a piece of legislation that aims to encourage and lead protection of heritage sites or property in British Columbia . This act was formed in 1996, and recognizes the importance of protecting significant locations and objects dating before BC Confederation in 1846 . According to Section 4.4 on agreements with Indigenous peoples, heritage protection may include (among other subsections):
- Heritage sites and objects that are spiritually, ceremonially, or otherwise culturally significant to the Indigenous peoples involved for protection .
- Heritage sites and objects the are valued for other reasons than those previously stated .
Under this Act, culturally modified trees and ancestral sites are meant to be protected . Culturally modified trees (CMTs) are trees that have sustained and contain records of past peeling, felling, and other activities done by Indigenous peoples . This is seen in tree scars, where cedar trees especially preserve this information, which can be seen on the tree’s external trunk and in dendrochronology records of tree rings . Some criticism exists on the effectiveness of this Act, regarding archeological impact assessments. In a Vancouver Island study by Earnshaw on clear-cut patches on Nuu-chah-nulth territories, results indicate that current archeological impact assessments are not protecting CMTs, in some locations up to 50%, as seen in their stumps left behind after harvesting . This identifies the need for effective surveying and monitoring of sites before harvests take place, to ensure that significant heritage locations and objects are not damaged.
Old-Growth Strategic Review
The Old-Growth Strategic Review report is a report that was commissioned by the Government of BC in 2019, which outlines 14 recommendations on how British Columbia can better protect and manage its last remaining endangered old-growth forests. The report is based off of a variety of scientific studies and data, but also incorporates feedback gathered from thousands of British Colombians and their ideas of what needs to be done. The recommendations are shaped by the realization that there is a paradigm shift happening between our relationship with how interact with the environment, and such the way in which we manage our old-growth forests needs to adapt accordingly. Two key recommendations of the report are to engage in full support of Indigenous leadership and defer development and logging in old-growth forests . After the release of the report to the public in September 2020, Premier John Horgan, the leader of the Government of BC promised to implement the 14 recommendations as outlined below .
On conditions required for change:
1. Engage the full involvement of Indigenous leaders and organizations to review this report and any subsequent policy or strategy development and implementation.
2. Declare conservation of ecosystem health and biodiversity of British Columbia’s forests as an overarching priority and enact legislation that legally establishes this priority for all sectors.
3. Adopt a three-zone forest management framework to guide forest planning and decision-making.
4. Adopt a more inclusive and stable governance model that gives local communities and stakeholders a greater role in forest management decisions that affect them.
5. Provide the public with timely and objective information about forest conditions and trends.
For immediate response:
6. 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.
7. Bring management of old forests into compliance with existing provincial targets and guidelines for maintaining biological diversity. For improving management:
8. Establish and fund a more robust monitoring and evaluation system for updating management of old forests.
9. Establish a standardized system and guidance that integrates provincial goals and priorities to local objectives and targets.
10. Update the targets for retention and management of old and ancient forest.
11. Improve the mapping and classification of old forests to recognize multiple values.
12. Create a silviculture innovation program aimed at developing harvesting alternatives to clear-cutting that maintain old forest values.
For orderly transitions:
13. Once developed, implement the new policies and strategies for for the management of old forests through mandatory provincial and local transition plans that define, schedule and monitor the process.
14. Support forest sector workers and communities as they adapt to changes resulting from a new forest management system.
Ditidaht First Nation
Ditidaht First Nation is governed by a Chief and councillors, where elections are held every four years . Currently, the acting Chief Councillor is Brian Tate, and Anne Pettet, Darryl Tate, Kelley Sport, and Paul Sieber are councillors .
Perspectives on Old-Growth Forests and Logging
Ditidaht perspectives on old-growth may be diverse, where there are many drawbacks of old-growth logging, though also some advances. Some financial advances may be possible with logging in Ditidaht territory, though these have only recently evolved . The Ditidaht, and some other Nations, entered into partnerships with some logging companies that include revenue sharing, including Teal-Jones and Western Forest Products . With the current TFLs, companies must also pay for the right to log in Ditidaht territory through Crown stumpage fees . Ditidaht Forestry Ltd. are currently working with Teal-Jones and aiming to obtain long term logging access and revenue sharing . Some members of the Ditidaht First Nations may also have concerns with harvesting old-growth. The Nation’s natural resource manager Paul Sieber has concerns over how much old-growth is left, as well as the state of Caycuse River Watershed, as it has been damaged from previous logging which may be exacerbated with future logging as well . CMTs and ancestral sites are located across Nuu-chah-nulth territories. Across these Nations, there are more than 53,000 individual CMTs and 2,400 forest utilization sites . However, more than 20% of these locations have been affected by logging activities on Vancouver Island . Cultural heritage sites older than 1846, BC Confederation, are meant to be protected in British Columbia by the Heritage Conservation Act, though it's effectiveness is questionable in Nuu-chah-nulth territories . This is exemplified by the continued harvesting of a CMT in Pacheedaht First Nations territory, indicating that archeological impact assessments are not reflecting the true history of forests .
The objectives of Ditidaht Nation may be difficult to define in this issue, as they are not explicitly stated (in this author's findings). However, some members have voiced concern for old-growth status, while others may wish to see logging done internally by Ditidaht Forestry Ltd. after agreeing to a partnership with TimberWest and negotiating with Teal-Jones .
By partnering with other logging groups, Ditidaht Nation may increase their power, as logging companies have high economic importance in British Columbia . However, Garry Merkel, of the Old-Growth Strategic Review plan, notes that some Nations can be placed in positions of having to log old-growth to support their businesses, or risk shutting down . Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder Ken Wu believes that Indigenous peoples' economic alternatives should be supported, as there is resource dependency and high potential revenues from this activity . If Ditidaht Nation can relate to this problem, they may be vulnerable as a result of reliance and obligation to log these forests.
Pacheedaht First Nation
The Chief of Pacheedaht First Nation is Chief Jeff Jones, and there are two members of the council: Councillor Ardina Jones and Councillor Tracy Charlie . Pacheedaht Nation's total population, on and off First Nations land, is 284 people .
Perspectives on Old-Growth Forests and Logging
Similarly to Ditidaht First Nations, members of Pacheedaht First Nation may have differing opinions on old-growth logging activities in their territory, as there are varying concerns and interests. One Pacheedaht Elder, Bill Jones, has been vocal about logging concerns in the Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew, located on Pacheedaht territory . Elder Jones' has called for this logging activity by Teal-Jones to be stopped, and has encouraged British Columbians to contribute to social action by contacting government officials . As cleansing creeks, Renfrew Creek and Fairy Creek can have spiritual importance to Indigenous Nation members for prayer and meditation, where old-growth logging may disturb these areas . Pacheedaht First Nations aim to have governance over resources within their traditional territory . At this time of writing, it is believed that Elder Jones is the only member of Pacheedaht Nation to have been involved in the Fairy Creek blockade, a group of non-violent forest defenders who have formed a blockade to prevent Teal-Jones . However, other Pacheedaht members support the message of preventing old-growth logging for ecological reasons, such as supporting salmon .
As Pacheedaht First Nations have agreed to a revenue-sharing partnership with the Province of British Columbia, the nation is able to be compensated for logging the occurs on their land, including cutblocks of TFL-46 and Fairy Creek . In terms of this agreement, Pacheedaht peoples are not allowed to interfere in matters that may irritate or prevent authorized forestry activities granted by the Province of British Columbia . The Pacheedaht Nation's council has invested in logging machinery, which has previously economically supported the community . This investment has come in the form of building a sawmill which produces 10,000 cubic meters of wood each year, as well as buying into a partnership that acquired over 20,000 hectares of forest for harvesting through a TFL, including some old-growth sections .
The objectives of Pacheedaht Nation on old-growth logging may be difficult to define, as in terms of their revenue sharing agreement, Pacheedaht Nation is not to interfere with logging activities in TFL-46. With the purchase of tenure, Pacheedaht has new economic opportunities that rely on logging . Additionally, Elder Bill Jones, Roxy-Merl Jones, and Victor Peter, Pacheedaht members, have supported efforts that aim to prevent old-growth logging though have noted that they do not represent all of their Nation . In a recent statement, the Nation reiterated their right to manage forests in their territory, including old-growth harvest, when responding to old-growth logging protests that have been occurring on their territory in the last year .
Pacheedaht Nation may have relatively less power over old-growth logging than other stakeholders in this issue. This may be the case, as Pacheedaht Nation do not administer harvesting licenses, as this is the responsibility of the provincial government. Also, this Nation's power may be reduced because of their shared revenue agreement with the Province of British Columbia . By restricting the Pacheedaht peoples in the partnership's terms, some of their power may have been lost.
Interested Outside Stakeholders
Teal-Jones is the current owners of TFL-46, who have been granted 200 hectares of southern Vancouver Island forest for logging . Of this, Teal-Jones wish to presently log 20 hectares of this area, which is a relatively small portion of the Fairy Creek valley . Teal-Jones have an objective of logging this location, as old-growth forests produce high value timber due to the wood's grain characteristics . As Teal-Jones manufacture various wood products, they rely on having high quality timber that will not be damaged after processing . Additionally, logging activity is argued to provide jobs to British Columbians by Teal-Jones, as well as supporting their future operations . Teal-Jones has claimed to not export timber, which provides employment opportunities in wood processing . At this time, Teal-Jones has not stated any current plans of logging the additional 180 hectares of their license .
Teal-Jones is an interested stakeholder who has relatively high power, as well as authority over future old-growth status within their logging permit. Logging in British Columbia is a large contributor to the province's economy . In 2019, the forest sector in BC contributed $988 million in provincial revenue and $5.9 billion to the province's GDP (in 2012 chained dollars) . In 2019, 27% of the province's timber harvesting occurred on the coast , where Teal-Jones is the largest privately owned forest products company on the west coast of BC . Teal-Jones recently displayed their power by submitting an application for an injunction to the Supreme Court of Canada to remove protestors at the Fairy Creek blockades . A virtual hearing was scheduled for March 4th, 2021 , and was granted on April 1st, 2021 . If protestors do not leave, they may face arrest by the RCMP .
Rainforest Flying Squad
The Rainforest Flying Squad is a volunteer driven, grassroots, non-violent direct action movement that has an aim to protect old-growth forests on Vancouver Island . The Rainforest Flying Squad have notably been acting as on-the-ground forest defenders, preventing logging employees from moving into cut-blocks for forestry activities in Fairy Creek old-growth . The group has been active since the summer of 2020, after deciding to build their first road blockade on August 9th to prevent harvesting and blasting scheduled for the following day . Now, at least eight blockades exist to prevent Teal-Jones from logging in this region .
The Rainforest Flying Squad does not have decision-making power, though have been effective at mobilizing public interest and participation, which has resulted in turning away fellers . Despite the recent approval by the Supreme Court of Canada for an injunction against protesters at Fairy Creek blockades , forest defenders continue to occupy blockades and find new defenders arriving at camps to protest. The service of this injunction means that activists have the right to protest the logging, though may be arrested for blockading roads, harassing forestry employees, impeding work, and going within 50 meters of machinery or equipment . The Rainforest Flying Squad has also been active on social media.
Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations
Many environmental organizations have become involved with the issue of old-growth logging on southern Vancouver Island. These groups are united with a goal of preventing old-growth logging and protecting British Columbia’s remaining old-growth, which is estimated to be only 2.7% of its previous abundance . Environmental groups like the Ancient Forest Alliance and the Wilderness Committee have been leading a broad scale movement for environmental protection by meeting with logging companies and governments to address barriers to old-growth retention .
Environmental NGOs may lack direct power in decision-making, though have been influential in leading the public to social action, which creates pressure on governments and companies to be held accountable. This can be exemplified by investigating relevant organizations' actions on this issue.
Ancient Forest Alliance
The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) is a registered non-profit organization that aims to protect British Columbian old-growth forest and promote the choice of sustainable second-growth logging industries . AFA was created in 2010 by co-founders Ken Wu and T.J. Watt .
The Ancient Forest Alliance has advocated for the prevention of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island in previous years, as well as today. In 2015, AFA launched a campaign against old-growth helicopter-logging that was scheduled to occur in Central Walbran Valley by Teal-Jones . The Ancient Forest Alliance then launched drones to capture images of the old-growth ecosystem, to create videos and raise public awareness about the logging that was to take place . The Ancient Forest Alliance has continued to participate in the issue of old-growth logging on southern Vancouver Island by continuing to raise public awareness through social media, commenting on logging publicly , and launching targeted campaigns, such as Provincial Old-Growth Protection Strategy and Central Walbran Valley .
The Wilderness Committee is a non-profit environmental organization, with head offices in Vancouver, Canada, that was founded in 1980 . The Wilderness Committee was developed with an aim of researching and educating others on the importance of conserving Canada’s wildlife and habitats for the benefit of people today and in the future .
Currently, the Wilderness Committee has a campaign to protect old-growth, and is encouraging forest activists to hold the current provincial government accountable for their promises by signing a petition to demand protection for these at-risk environments . Additionally, the non-profit has also shared posts on Teal-Jones logging to raise public support of defenders .
Government of British Columbia
The current Government of British Columbia is controlled by a New Democratic Party (NDP) majority, led by Premier John Horgan, after a snap election was held in October, 2020 . In Premier Horgan's climate platform, the NDP government commits to implementing the recommendations made by foresters Al Gorley and Garry Merkel in the Old-Growth Strategic Review . However, funding has not yet been given to transition forest operations . Additionally, the old-growth forest in question is within Premier Horgan's riding . In the past, BC forest policies have been regarded as emphasizing the value of timber supply, rather than biodiversity . In their report, Gorley and Merkel note that some believe the provincial government has not participated in old-growth management, leading to their positionality on the matter being unclear .
Despite this, and the NDP's commitments to old-growth protection in their platform, Premier Horgan has failed to comment on this current issue on Vancouver Island . Inquiries have been directed instead to Forestry Minister Catrine Conroy, who says that defenders have the right to protest, though are expected to obey the injunction that has been served by the Supreme Court . It is believed that the Government of BC is a powerful interested stakeholder, due to Premier Horgan's relationship with the logging site and provincial governmental bodies authority over logging licenses .
Old-growth logging has been a long-standing issue on Vancouver Island, which is still extremely relevant as exemplified by the current events that are affecting Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations. As we have identified thus far, the issue of logging has led to dynamic relationships between various right holders and stakeholders, regarding TFL-46 on Vancouver Island. As this conflict is occurring in the present day, new developments in the conflict are happening as the situation evolves. Though the story is still recent, we have identified some strengths and weaknesses from the perspectives of the most relevant rights and stakeholders in the case so far, based on the information that was available to us.
Historically and ongoing to the present, the logging of old-growth forests in the southeastern region of Vancouver Island has been a large topic of debate leading to several issues and conflicts to arise. One of the first major conflicts, now named the "The War in the Woods", happened in the 1990s . 856 people were arrested for breaking an injunction by blocking logging roads to protest the provincial government's choice to clear-cut several blocks of old-growth around Ditidaht and Pacheedaht territories without consulting them . Although the War in the Woods has since been settled, several other conflicts surrounding old-growth logging still continue in this region of Vancouver Island today and are thought to be reforming themselves in similar ways of which we have seen in the past. The most similar is a blockade set up by the organization Rainforest Flying Squad in TFL-46, who have been preventing logging trucks from entering the Fairy Creek area to cut some of the last remaining old-growth since August 2020. This particular conflict has recently exploded in scale following the Supreme Court of British Columbia's decision to grant Teal-Jones an injunction after the company requested it to arrest and remove blockaders . This appointment of the injunction can be seen as a success from the perspective of Teal-Jones, as once the blockaders are removed, they can resume their logging operations. However, no arrests have been made since the injunction was granted, but the blockaders have stated they will not be backing down . This decision has recently led to much disappointment from many environmental NGOs and the public, with resentment towards how Teal-Jones and the Province of BC are dealing with the situation. This has resulted in a great deal of publications on the issue and the eruption of several protests across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. The Fairy Creek blockade is located on the traditional land of the Pacheedaht First Nations. Elder Bill Jones of the Pacheedaht Nation has expressed his support for the blockade, however, he has acknowledged that he does not fully represent his Nation's beliefs . The blockades have been operating without the consent of Pacheedaht Nation , which may be seen as a failure on the activists' part. On August 9th, 2020, a notice from the Rainforest Flying Squad was sent to the Chiefs and Councillors of Pacheedaht Nation, including Elder Bill Jones, to alert them of the group's intent to build a blockade , though no explicit permission was granted . Rainforest Flying Squad has been criticized for its decision to carry-out their objectives and blockade without consent . These actions could be seen as perpetuating long-standing issues of environmental activism in British Columbia, where settlers act with authority over Indigenous territory . After concerns circulated on Pacheedaht Nations’ potential lack of support for defenders, an Elder from Ma’amtagila territory, Tsatilqualus Ambers, visited Ridge Blockade Camp at the end of September, 2020 . When visiting, Ambers and other visitors introduced themselves and their ancestors to the defenders, who were encouraged to do this as well . In her opinion, this important relationship building should have been done earlier in the movement . Ambers had also stated that "nothing is done about us without us", referencing the importance of Indigenous involvement at the beginning of processes . On April 12th, 2021, Pacheedaht Nation stated that they do not welcome the third-party activists who are protesting on their territory . A previous 2018 statement from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, which encompass a variety of southeastern Vancouver Island First Nations groups including Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations, requested that the Province of BC work with them to slow down and even stop the rapid disappearance of old-growth forests on their territories .
Lately, further frustration from many groups has also risen due to the failure of the NDP government's progress in implementing the Old-Growth Strategic Review report. The report was released on September 11th, 2020, with a government statement promising to act on its 14 recommendations to protect old-growth, which became an important consideration in the 2020 provincial elections . The development of the Old-Growth Strategic Review itself can be seen as a success, as it is a strategy that is able to meet many different rightholder's and stakeholder's objectives. However, more than half a year has passed and so far, the provincial government has only taken action to defer logging in a few regions . Of the 353,000 hectares that was legally deferred, only around 3,800 hectares was actually found to be associated with high productive old-growth forests, creating further distrust from multiple groups in the governments commitment to protect these forests . This lack of urgency surrounding the implementation of the report has become a growing concern, as only 2.7%  of old-growth forests remain standing in British Columbia, with multiple still open to logging. The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs has recently called upon the provincial government to take immediate action on the report and to provide more details on how they plan to shift these logging deferrals to permanent protection . Kukpi7 Wilson, a chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band, notes that there is a complete recent lack of transparency and communication from the government regarding how it has began to implement the Old-Growth Strategic Review, as well as the criterion which was used to determine which areas were eligible for deferrals and why some were not . NGOs such as the Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club BC, and the Ancient Forest Alliance have also expressed frustration with the lack of effort from the Government of BC, creating a report card, which suggests that the province is failing in most aspects of the the new forest approach it promised to act on . Further, BC's First Nation Forestry Council has stated their disappointment given that the province has only chosen to engage with Indigenous leadership and organizations after the fact of the report, and not as true partners in the development of the report. Under Article 32 of the UN Deceleration of Rights of Indigenous People, Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for their territories, and thus, the province has an requirement to involve First Nations in changes to forest legislature . However, little effort to make this happen was seen in the newest approach to managing old-growth. The First Nations Forestry Council is concerned that discussions between the province and major licensees who determine forest polices and regulations will continue to not include meaningful First Nations participation, which will have major implications for Indigenous self governance and management of their own forested lands . Although not much is known surrounding current concerns of old-growth logging from the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations, they have historically faced many conflicts with the Government of BC and tenure holders over claims to their traditional territories and rights to mange and control their resources and land. Many of these conflicts have been resolved but have required the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations peoples to go through the lengthy processes and bindings of the colonial system to gain legal power back over their land . In 2019, both First Nations groups signed an agreement in principle with the Government of BC, which reinforced Indigenous control over forestry practices and forest resources on their territories. Although Chief Robert Joseph from the Ditidaht First Nations said the signing was a good step forward, the agreement is not legally binding and still requires further action from the Government of BC . Today, much work is still needed to resolve some of these conflicts, which have disproportionately affected First Nations groups and their rights to govern and manage their own forested lands.
Second-Growth Forest Harvesting
Old-growth forests have high environmental importance by facilitating carbon sequestration and biodiversity, as well as spiritual and cultural importance , leading us to recommend the prevention of old-growth forest logging by settlers in British Columbia. The future of logging in British Columbia will likely become more reliant on second-growth forests , as other wood sources like old-growth are depleted and second-growth forests are most dominant in southern BC . While some revenue may be lost as second-growth wood does not share the same high-value characteristics as old-growth timber, such as it's grain , its ecological services can support organisms that require old-growth. Logging is an important industry to British Columbia’s economy , where we believe that second-growth logging should be invested in at a greater scale to make this practice as sustainable as possible. This investment may come in the form of increasing the number of second-growth plantations, as well as constructing more facilities for timber to be processed to encourage job creation in different forestry sectors. This expansion is similar to some goals of the Ancient Forest Alliance, who wish to reduce the export of raw timber outside of BC for processing to maintain supply for operations in province . Additionally, innovative silviculture strategies should be employed for harvesting these areas, which would be consistent with Recommendation 12 from Gorley and Merkel . Innovative harvest strategies may be extracting resources that mimic a natural disturbance, though Gorley and Merkel note that clear-cuts may be appropriate for some second-growth plantations . Being conscious of silvicultural practices may aid in preserving land values that can be risked due to clear-cutting, such as water supply and biodiversity . By recommending that British Columbia’s forestry industry invest in second-growth logging now, we aim to prevent the depletion of unprotected old-growth forests, while attempting to increase supply of younger trees for sustainable harvest and opportunities for processing jobs.
Mandatory Education for Forest License Holders
Currently, there is no special education on forest ecology and succession that companies in the forestry industry and their employees have to go through in order to hold TFLs or other forest licences in BC. Although this may be difficult to accomplish, we recommend the creation of a mandatory introductory course taught by forest professionals or scientists specializing in ecology, that all current and future members and employees of forestry companies have to attend. This course would educate industry members on the successional stages of forests, forest characteristics, some of the basic biological and ecological functions that occur in forests, as well as highlight the cultural and spiritual importance of forests to various groups, such as Indigenous peoples. This course would also allow information on the importance of old-growth and intact forests to be shared across the industry, as well as teach members about the social and ecological consequences that come with improper forest management and excessive resource extraction. We recognize that part of the issue is the provincial government granting forest licenses without understanding the state of the ecosystems they are permitting the harvesting in and the implications that their actions may have, since there are no on-the-ground ecological assessments that occur prior to granting these licenses. However, we think that building awareness and educating industry members is an important first step to forestry companies better informing their harvesting practices, as well as making changes where their practices pose threats to ecologically, socially, and culturally valuable ecosystems. Additionally, by sharing this information, the importance of cooperation and co-management scenarios between various stakeholders and rightholders would be emphasized.
Co-Management: BC Government and First Nations
For far too long, the Province of BC has left out and excluded Indigenous peoples in forestry practice, management, and decision making. Since the 19th century, BC's forestry policies have been built on the colonial conception that the province's success is rooted in forestry-based development, which has contributed to decades of over-harvesting, overoptimistic regrowth projections, and corporatization . While BC's forest sector has been continually updated to reflect the changing growth in the industry since its creation in 1940s, the core basis of its capital values still persist today, which have not only significantly impacted First Nations' abilities to have sovereignty over their forested landscapes, but have also lead to the significant ecological crisis that our old-growth ecosystems are now facing today. First Nations, such as the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht have occupied BC's forested landscapes for millennia, taking care for these forests and ensuring a continued sustained relationship that benefited both the humans and nonhuman ecosystems. However, the colonial forest sector to this day continues to restrict First Nations rights and abilities to engage in these traditional practices through the continued lack of Indigenous involvement, land grabbing, and un-consensual practices in the forestry sector.
This is why we recommend that the BC Government needs to work in full congruence with First Nations to determine how forestry should be conducted in the province. This involvement must go beyond participation and provide legitimate power to Indigenous peoples to to decide and to self govern how forest operations are conducted on their lands. Most importantly this must be meaningful and the government must act in ways that go beyond its promises to involve First Nations. The Province of BC has failed many times through empty promises of Indigenous involvement across the forestry sector. In 2019, amendments were passed to the Forest Range and Practices Act (Bill 21) and the Forest Amendment Act (Bill 22), regardless of any meaningful input from Indigenous communities . The BC First Nations Forestry Council has even pointed these failures out, with the creation of the Old-Growth Strategic Review report. Although the report does include involvement of Indigenous leadership, it only sought to address it in the aftermath, while it could have involved Indigenous partners in the development and creation of the report . This goes to show that the BC Government is still failing to recognize and legitimize the commitment they have to give governmental power and rights to First Nations on their forested lands. While we still support the implementation of the 14 recommendations, the recommendation aimed at co-management and policy development with Indigenous groups needs to be acted on and followed through with first, as that is essential for this strategy to be effective. We further suggest that the Province of BC must implement and fully endorse all six goals of the BC & First Nations Forestry Strategy into the forest sector. These six goals are:
Goal 1: Shared governance and joint decision-making;
Goal 2: A strong forest economy that supports meaningful sharing of revenues with First Nations;
Goal 3: Legislation and policy development and reform;
Goal 4: Tenure reform that recognizes UNDRIP and supports a healthy and strong forest sector;
Goal 5: Collaborative stewardship and land use planning; and
Goal 6: Maximize First Nations involvement in the forest sector.
Once implemented, this strategy will showcase BC's commitment to holding space for Indigenous people in the forestry sector. Additionally, the goals outlined above will help ensure Indigenous sovereignty and inclusiveness at the local and community level, which will promote grassroots knowledge, strategies, and initiatives to help manage our last remaining old-growth forests.
The Prioritization of Indigenous Peoples' Wishes Regarding Operations on Their Territory
Recent developments regarding the blockade set up by the Rainforest Flying Squad have arised, as the Pacheedaht First Nation has spoken out against it . In the statement, the Pacheedaht First Nation said that it will determine what will be logged and preserved in its territory through their own resource stewardship plan . In reference to the blockade, the Nation expressed that it does not support third-party activism taking place in the Fairy Creek area . The Nation also stated that their constitutional right to decision-making regarding the forest resources on their traditional territory should be acknowledged and must be respected . Although some Nation members, such as Elder Bill Jones, have expressed their support for the blockade and the halting of old-growth logging on the territory , it is necessary for environmental activists of settler-decent to listen to the perspectives of the First Nations, and the official Pacheedaht Nation statement, amidst this conflict. While there are differing opinions within the Nation, it is important for environmental activists to act with the Nation’s wishes, and redirect their efforts to support the fulfillment of the resource stewardship plan.
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