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David Broadland

David Broadland
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  1. The Horgan government’s failure to protect at-risk old-growth forests is forcing BC citizens to take real action themselves. The Old Growth Revylution blockade was recently visited by an RCMP officer (Photo by Sadie Parr) THE MOVEMENT TO STOP THE DESTRUCTION of BC’s old-growth forests by blockading logging roads—as practiced by Vancouver Island’s Rainforest Flying Squad—is spreading. A group of Revelstoke-area citizens, calling themselves Old Growth Revylution, has established a blockade on a logging road beside Bigmouth Creek north of Revelstoke. The group is blocking access to a newly constructed logging road leading to three planned cutblocks in the pristine Argonaut Valley. The cutblocks would be logged under a licence granted by BC Timber Sales (BCTS), a division of the ministry of forests. Not only is the spread of the movement a vote of no confidence in Premier John Horgan’s vague promises of future 2-year logging deferrals on old forest, the engagement with a BCTS-led logging operation opens a new and interesting front in the citizen-led battle against old-growth forest destruction. I will come back to this development later. A view of logging of old-growth forest in Bigmouth Valley. The Revylution wants to protect Argonaut Valley ecosystems from this destruction. (Photo by Sadie Parr) Several ENGOs, including Wildsight, Echo Conservation, the Wilderness Committee and Valhalla Wilderness Society, have been campaigning to protect the pristine Argonaut Valley. The valley is in the Inland Temperate Rainforest, a globally-unique ecosystem under heavy pressure by the logging industry. Most of the valley has been mapped under Canada’s Species At Risk Act as critical habitat for Mountain Caribou, one of BC’s most endangered species. Last December, the BC ministry of forests initially responded to these concerns with a statement noting “the ministry suspended planned harvesting operations in the Argonaut drainage to allow for further assessments around how harvesting activities might impact caribou in this area. This assessment is ongoing and no further timber harvest activities will occur in the area while the assessment is underway.” BCTS then withdrew 11 of 14 cutblocks planned for the valley. But the most current BCTS mapping shows it is now planning five cutblocks in the valley, three of which are scheduled to be auctioned as a single sale between October 1 and December 31 of this year. BCTS estimates about 26,000 cubic metres of merchantable logs would be removed from those three blocks. BCTS had a road built into the valley in 2020, and more recent roadbuilding prompted formation of the Old Growth Revylution. The Revylution blockaders want the entire Argonaut Valley protected. Virginia Thompson, a member of Revylution, told FOCUS, “The blockade is also in support of the Fairy Creek action and for the implementation of the recommendations of the Old Growth Review Panel. That includes the panel’s recommendation to immediately defer all at-risk old-growth ecosystems while the recommendations for a paradigm shift in forestry can be implemented to save what little of old-growth ecosystems are left in BC. This does not mean the bogus deferrals which were made in September of 2020. It means real, meaningful deferrals. Otherwise the old growth will be gone by the time government finishes talking about it.” Old-growth cedar removed to build a logging road in the area (Photo by Eddie Petryshen) The blockade will also affect access to another block of old-growth forest just outside the valley that has already been sold by BCTS to Revelstoke’s Downie Timber. Wildsight’s Eddie Petryshen told FOCUS that the Downie block “is imminently threatened by logging.” In an email, Petryshen wrote, “This block, in my opinion, actually contains some of the highest value old growth of the remaining blocks as it’s valley bottom and contains very large cedars.” Revylution’s Thompson said the forest defenders had been in contact with a representative of Downie regarding the block. The Revylution has strong support of area First Nations, including the Okanagan, Splatsin (Secwepemcúl̓ecw) and Sinixt. Thompson told FOCUS that a ceremony held on July 11 at the blockade included representatives of each of these First Nations. In a press release issued before the ceremony, Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian noted: “We will be conducting a ceremony to protect the old-growth forest, but also to protect the public who have decided to block access to critical old-growth habitat for our relatives the Caribou.” At the ceremony, Christian called for members of his nation to come to the blockade. The Splatsin, Okanagan and Ktunaxa Nation all have forestry consultation and revenue sharing agreements with the ministry of forests. It is unknown which nation, or nations, the BC government is consulting regarding the Argonaut Valley. A view of the upper Argonaut Valley (Photo by Eddie Petryshen) This all creates an interesting situation for the ministry of forests. If the Revylution blockaders are as determined as the Fairy Creek blockaders, they will likely be able to block access to the Argonaut Valley. Facing that likelihood, what logging company would want the uncertainty, bad publicity and loss of reputation that would accompany a bid to cut the pristine valley’s forests? This is quite unlike the situation at Fairy Creek and the Caycuse Valley on southern Vancouver Island, where Teal Cedar Ltd, dependent on cutting old-growth forest to feed its Surrey mills, can’t easily walk away from its own TFL. If the Revylution blockade is successful at deterring a bid on the Argonaut Valley blocks, that strategy could be copied across BC wherever BCTS is planning to cut old-growth forest. BCTS sells the right to cut Crown-owned forest through competitive auction. It must publicize the blocks it plans to auction well before the auction date. It’s now possible for old-growth forest defenders to identify old forests at risk of being logged by BCTS, and then develop a plan to discourage bids on those blocks before they are sold. The ministry faces a new and serious challenge to its industry-friendly taxpayer-funded mismanagement of BC’s forests. To complicate matters, on July 13 a forest fire broke out high above Bigmouth Creek, about three kilometres upstream from the mouth of Argonaut Creek. It’s going to be a long, hot, ground-breaking summer. In his own response to the climate and biodiversity crises, David Broadland has narrowed his research and writing to the critically-endangered forests of BC.
  2. Yes, the log had been purchased (from an unknown seller) by Port Alberni's Acoustic Woods, mentioned in this story.
  3. Thanks for your comment Michael. I hear you, but the components of the industry include more than just logging. More people in the industry are employed in mills of various kinds than in the logging sector. There's also people involved in different aspects of forestry, like tree planters and thinners, and so on. There's also the people who work at the "ministry of forests" who are actually working for the "forest industry." I have called it "the mindustry" from time to time. I would be happy to hear other people's ideas about what this forest-wasting machine should be called.
  4. BC’s forest industry, with a little help from its dependents in mainstream media, has become expert at warping public perception of the industry. Teal Cedar Products Ltd’s cedar shake and shingle mill beside the Fraser River in Surrey. About half of the cedar logs that go through the mill end up in the pile on the right. TEAL CEDAR PRODUCTS LTD, the company in the news over its logging of old-growth forests on southern Vancouver Island, knows something that it doesn’t want you to know: About one-half of the ancient forest Teal cuts in TFL 46, trucks to its log sort at Duke Point, and then booms across the Salish Sea and up the Fraser River to its mill in Surrey, spends time as a pile of sawdust and wood chips on its way to a pulp mill or a bag of garden mulch or some other low value product. About half. According to data published by the BC ministry of forests, approximately 52 percent of the logs removed from BC forests become wood chips or sawdust. Teal’s mill is no different. The image above shows its shake and shingle mill on the Fraser River. That big pile of sawdust on the right? That’s the destination of approximately half of the old-growth cedar logs it removed from TFL 46 near Port Renfrew. Like the wood waste from any other mill in BC, the sawdust and wood chips are then transported to a pulp mill and turned into short-lived products like newsprint, toilet paper, or garden mulch. But the extent to which the forest is wasted when it’s logged is actually much worse than this, whether it’s old growth or second growth. What can’t be seen in the mill image is the slash left behind in the clearcuts after logging: The stumps and roots, the non-merchantable tops, the branches, parts of the tree that were broken during felling, the rotten parts of the trees, smaller unmerchantable trees, standing dead snags, and woody debris on the forest floor. Oh, and the understory plants and the underground mycorrhizal network. Approximately one-half of the total biomass of a forest that is killed by logging stays in the clearcut until it burns or decomposes and then passes into the atmosphere. Yes, this would all happen over time, naturally. But logging unnaturally shrinks the time frame within which that occurs, and, in the developing climate emergency, accelerating the process of returning forest carbon to the atmosphere could be suicidal. Logging slash left after clearcut logging of old-growth forest in the Klanawa River Valley on southern Vancouver Island (Photo by TJ Watt) The wasted biomass left in the clearcut, along with the piles of sawdust and wood chips at the mill, account for 75 percent of the original biomass that was in an old-growth stand before it was logged. Seventy-five percent. In BC, of the remaining 25 percent that gets turned into lumber, plywood, veneer, panels, shakes, shingles and poles, about 80 percent of that is exported, mostly to the USA, China and Japan. That means that only about 5 percent of the total forest biomass that is killed in BC each year by logging is actually used here as a product that could store carbon for more than a couple of years. Five percent. The other 95 percent is the forest industry’s big, dirty secret. This matters because there is a climate emergency. Killing forests means killing the most effective way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and safely store it for hundreds of years. Over the past 20 years in BC, mainly as a result of logging, the province’s forests have lost over 90 percent of their annual capacity to sequester atmospheric carbon. It also matters because killing forests means killing the wildlife that lived in those forests. As a consequence of logging, BC is experiencing an unprecedented decline in wildlife populations. The greatest cause of biodiversity collapse is loss of habitat. And it also matters because British Columbians are subsidizing this colossal forest-wasting exercise: By paying for the forest management necessary for the gargantuan scale of logging involved to meet export market demand, by subsidizing the industry’s electrical energy usage, and by failing to tax the immense carbon emissions and loss of carbon sequestration capacity caused by the forest industry. As awareness of these facts grows, both the ministry of forests and industry are desperately trying to create counter arguments about the damage the industry is doing to climate stability and wildlife. On the government side, provincial and federal forest mandarins are scrambling to promote initiatives that make it appear they are on the verge of mitigating the harms to climate and biodiversity. “Innovations” like “collecting logging residue” to make “bioenergy” and “mass timber construction” to store carbon are being promoted as climate friendly reasons why forest conservation is unnecessary. These initiatives—eviscerated by serious scientists—only address the symptoms, not the disease itself, which is too much logging. Worse, these unproven initiatives likely will have no impact at actually reducing the harm, and instead provide only the appearance of “We’ve got this.” Individual forest product companies, too, are finding their own creative ways to maneuver their businesses through the climate and biodiversity minefields. This brings us back to Teal Cedar Products Ltd, and its claims about guitars. In BC Supreme Court, Teal emphasized its role in guitar making Recall that in its February 2021 application to the BC Supreme Court for an injunction against logging road blockades in TFL 46, Teal emphasized the impact the blockades had on its “Teal Tonewood Division.” The company’s injunction contains the term “shake and shingle mill” only once, with no description of the extent of that business at all. Yet for its “Tonewood Division,” Teal included this long description: “Teal Cedar will suffer particular damage to its Tonewood division, which supplies book-matched pairs of timber used to manufacture custom-made guitars. “Only the highest quality all-blonde, straight-grain Western Red Cedar meets Teal Cedar’s standards for this business. This wood is difficult to come by. A disproportionate volume of the Western Red Cedar logs that do meet this standard originate from the Southern Vancouver Island logging area where the Blockades have occurred. “From September to December 2020, Teal Cedar experienced a decline in production of approximately 25,000 Tonewood units, resulting in lost revenue exceeding $250,000. This was due primarily to a sharp shortage in Western Red Cedar logs available during this period for production. Teal Cedar’s customers have begun to seek out substitute suppliers and lower cost European and Sitka Spruce product alternatives. For these customers, the shift to lower cost, lower quality alternatives would likely be permanent.” Just based on the difference in the number of words used to describe its cedar products, you might think that most of the cedar Teal takes from TFL 46 is being used to make guitars. “Shake and shingle” got three words; guitars got 146. Teal’s use of the injunction application to emphasize the tonewood aspect of its business raises some questions about the veracity of the company’s claims. For one thing, Teal removed 2.5 times the volume of cedar from TFL 46 in 2020 than it did in 2019—when there were no blockades. That increase in volume doesn’t support Teal’s claim of a “sharp shortage.” Moreover, the log market value of the cedar Teal did remove from TFL 46 in 2020 was about $9.7 million, and this is a much lower value than that of the wood products made from those logs. Why would “lost revenue exceeding $250,000” need to be highlighted by Teal? Secondly, according to Teal-Jones’ videos about the company, its Tonewood Division is located in Lumby, BC. Teal has a shake and shingle mill in Revelstoke, 175 kilometres distant from Lumby by highway, that also uses old-growth cedar cut from that area. The Revelstoke area is known for being able to produce excellent guitar tonewood, both from red cedar and Sitka spruce. From Port Renfrew to Lumby is 600 kilometres by road and a log boom across the Salish Sea. Why wouldn’t Teal have simply made up the difference from its nearby Revelstoke operation instead of losing all those valuable tonewood clients? But these are mere side issues relating to the believability of Teal’s claims. The main question that needs examination is this: Are guitar tonewoods actually a big part of Teal’s Vancouver Island logging and Surrey milling business, or is that just corporate greenwashing of the larger harms the company is doing? Several reporters covering the old-growth logging blockades emphasized the guitars. Mainstream media: Teal-Jones is “world's largest maker of acoustic guitar heads” On April 9, a week after Teal was granted an injunction, the company’s efforts to rebrand itself as a guitar maker hit mainstream media. Darren Kloster, a reporter for Victoria’s Times Colonist, interviewed Teal spokesperson Jack Gardner. Kloster wrote, “Gardner said ‘every stick harvested’ is processed at its mills in BC, including a facility in Lumby that cuts cedar blocks for guitars. Teal-Jones, he said, is the world’s largest maker of guitar tops and ships cut pieces to guitar makers in Canada and around the world.” Over the following weeks, as public support for the blockades grew and the RCMP began to arrest forest defenders, media coverage of the conflict ballooned and the “world’s largest maker of guitar tops” claim metastasized. Writing about the blockades in the May 27 Globe and Mail, Justine Hunter reported, “The Teal Jones Group is the largest privately owned timber harvesting and primary lumber-product manufacturing company in British Columbia. The family owned company is the world’s largest maker of acoustic guitar heads, and it also produces dimensional lumber for construction, log home timbers and cedar shingles.” On June 6, reporting for Reuters, Nia Williams wrote: “Teal Jones is a private company based in Surrey, near Vancouver. The company, the world’s largest maker of cedar guitar heads, says although the Fairy Creek watershed is almost 1,200 hectares, only about 200 hectares are available for harvest.” The role the guitar factor played in how reporters thought about what was important was clearly evident in stories written by former Vancouver Sun reporter Rob Shaw. Now a reporter for Victoria’s CHEK TV, Shaw produced at least two stories that included Teal’s guitar parts business. For the Daily Hive, he wrote: “The company’s Tonewood division is one of the world’s largest suppliers of acoustic guitar heads and plans to use some old growth trees—cedar and spruce have the best grain—to make guitar parts and other instruments.” On The Orca website, Shaw reported that “Teal-Jones, and its Tonewood Division, is the world’s largest maker of acoustic guitar heads.” Based on that “world’s largest maker” status, Shaw calculated that “There’s likely several protesters at Fairy Creek right now, as well as other environmental activists, holding acoustic guitars made from the very trees they demand not to be felled.” Shaw went on to observe, “It’s easy for the forestry community to paint them [the protesters] as hypocrites—though in reality, we are all guilty of hypocrisy when it comes to decrying the harm caused to the environment, and then consuming the very products that worsen those harms.” Shaw didn’t quote anyone from the forestry community who had accused guitar-playing old-growth protesters of being hypocrites; perhaps he sniffed out the hypocrisy all on his own. From Shaw’s stories, it’s clear that Teal’s guitar claims had influenced how he viewed the company, the logging, the protests and the protesters. The four reporters didn’t all agree on which part of an acoustic guitar Teal was producing, but they all agreed that it was either the “largest maker,” or “one of the largest makers” of that part in the world. According to Teal’s Youtube video, it produces approximately 2-foot-long, quarter-inch thick, quarter-sawn planks of red cedar and Sitka spruce—known as tonewood—that can be used for the front panel of a guitar body, the surface that has the sound hole in it. Tonewood is still a rough sawmill product though, not what could properly be called a “valued-added” product, though Teal does. To make tonewood, Teal takes a cedar shake bolt and runs it through a bandsaw instead of a hydraulic splitter. If Teal turned the boards produced into guitars—they don’t—that would be “value-added.” FOCUS contacted Kloster, Hunter and Shaw and asked how they had confirmed Teal’s “world’s largest” claim. All responded, but none provided any evidence that supported the “largest maker” claim. It appears that Gardner’s claims to Kloster, along with information included in one of the company’s Youtube videos, was all that it took for the company’s logging of old-growth forest on Vancouver Island to be characterized by mainstream media reporters as an essential part of the global manufacture of acoustic guitars. There were significant gaps in their reporting: None mentioned that the manufacture of red cedar shakes requires felling the same iconic, ancient red cedar trees that Teal claims to use to make guitar parts. None of the reporters mentioned that Teal’s shake and shingle mill in Surrey is arguably the largest manufacturer of red cedar shakes and shingles in BC—and possibly the world. I can only say “arguably” because the privately-owned company has not provided a public account of its Surrey shake and shingle mill’s output for at least 10 years, if ever. The ministry of forests conducts a voluntary “Major Mill Survey” each year that publishes the estimated annual output of every kind of mill in BC. Almost every large mill participates, but not Teal-Jones’ shake and shingle mill in Surrey. What is the mill’s output? Its physical size is evidently much larger than that of the largest shake and shingle producer that does participate in the ministry’s mill survey. A video about Teal’s shake and shingle mill states there are 23 resaw machines—the company produces 24-inch tapersawn shakes—with matching packing and banding facilities below the resaw machines. Some of the 23 machines at Teal-Jones’ Surrey shake and shingle mill that produce tapersawn shakes (Photo via Youtube) Compare that with the company’s video description of its funky “Tonewood Division” facility, which it says is located in Lumby. The video shows a few glimpses of a rustic building containing cedar or spruce blocks, and a bandsaw leisurely cutting off a thin plank destined for a guitar. It’s clearly a small, niche operation. Teal-Jones’ Tonewood Division manufacturing facility, identified in a Youtube video as being in Lumby, BC But given the prominence of the guitar business in its application for an injunction, it appears Teal doesn’t want the public to think of the company as a roofing producer. Instead, it would like to be seen as a manufacturer of acoustic guitar parts. Why? Turning old-growth forests into roofing is like dynamiting the Sistine Chapel Ask yourself: would you feel better about Teal chainsawing down a majestic 1000-year-old Western red cedar if you were told it was felled to (1) make musical instruments, or (2) make roofing? If cedar shakes are installed properly on a steep roof that’s well maintained, the shakes will last for about 30 years. The roofing then needs replacing. This is the worst possible use of old-growth cedar. I should know. I’ve installed a number of shake roofs on houses I’ve built, and they have all been replaced in that time frame. Cedar shingles on a roof will have an even shorter lifetime. As decorative siding, shingles are likely to last a little longer, but not as long as the trees from which they came would have lived if they were left standing. Teal understands that it’s easier to sell old-growth forest destruction during a climate emergency and in the midst of biodiversity collapse if the public thinks it’s being done to make acoustic guitars than if it’s done to produce a roofing product or decorative shingles. FOCUS did a thorough internet search for Teal’s guitar-parts making business in Lumby—and throughout BC—but we couldn’t find it. We did an extensive search of satellite imagery for mills in the Lumby area. Mills of any size, from small to large, stick out like a sore thumb—there’s always a big pile of wood waste nearby. Yet the Lumby guitar-part-making mill could not be found. We searched through organizations of luthiers (guitar makers) around the world and could find no mention of Teal’s guitar parts business, even though it “is the world’s largest maker of acoustic guitar heads,” according to the reporters. On the other hand, Acoustic Woods, the Port Alberni based tonewood supplier, could easily be found in all of these searches. We requested information about “Teal Tonewood Division” from Teal—and the lawyer who had prepared its injunction application—several times—but they provided no response. Teal seems to have found a way to draw attention away from its core business and direct it toward a more palatable use of old-growth forests. Mainstream media seem more than willing to amplify that mischaracterization of the company’s activities. You can understand Teal’s dilemma: It has a large mill equipped to make a product that seemed like a good idea in the early 1900s. But it’s early in the twenty-first century, BC is down to its last few hundred thousand hectares of forests containing large, ancient trees, and there’s a climate emergency and a biodiversity collapse. Using those rare remaining stands for short-lived roofing products or decorative siding could easily be seen by the public as reprehensible, like dynamiting the Sistine Chapel to make ballast. But using ancient forests for acoustic guitars that can then make beautiful music that feeds the human soul? How could you be against that? Why would mainstream media be so willing to pussy-foot around the demolition? Let’s go back to that big pile of sawdust beside Teal-Jones’ mill. That mound of ground-up fibre is an inevitable by-product of milling, and it is no different here than anywhere else on Earth. What that by-product has mainly been used for in the past was the production of newsprint, the cheap medium upon which Canada’s mainstream print media—like the Times Colonist, the Vancouver Sun, and the Globe and Mail—depend on for their continued business health. Deep down, newspapers don’t want to see those sawdust piles disappear. If they vanished, or became scarce, cheap paper—the oxygen of the newspaper business—would disappear. Given that fact, for newspaper reporters to say anything seriously critical about the forest industry would be, well, hypocritical. David Broadland is the former publisher of FOCUS, a print magazine whose financial stability depended heavily on paper prices hardly ever rising. He and Leslie Campbell were happy to begin the process of decarbonizing the publication in 2016 and have now completed that project.
  5. Hi Jennie, Thanks for your comment. You are unusual in that you are one of the few commenters on this story over the last year who actually tried to bring some hard numbers to the table. I appreciate that. You are commenting on a story that is 11.5 months old. I have written a follow-up article which will revisit some of the numbers published in this piece. We will publish it soon. For the follow-up, I filed a couple of FOIs with the ministry to establish its forest-related revenues and expenses over the 10-year period covered above. Those cover operational budgets, but they do not include all of the forest-related expenses incurred by the ministry. There is nothing in the above story that says the numbers reflect operational budgets. But thanks for your numbers anyway. The largest difference between the numbers I show above and those obtained by FOI are for 2019. However, if all ministry expenditures are included, there was still a $155,733,000 gap between forest-related revenue and forest-related expenditures. For other years, some years had a larger gap than is shown in the graph above, and some were slightly smaller. Instead of losing, on average, $1 million a day, the ministry only lost $954,000 a day. Every day. For 10 years. There are other very large costs to British Columbians that weren't covered in the story above. My update will include those. You won't like those numbers, either.
  6. BC Premier John Horgan at a press conference announcing he was all for saving old-growth forests AFTER ANNOUNCING 2-year logging deferrals for the Fairy Creek watershed and the central Walbran Valley, BC Premier John Horgan said: “These are monumental steps. I know it appears, at the moment, to be just another announcement by another premier...” He was right. It does appear to be just another announcement by another premier, a hyperbolic one at that. Monumental? Definitely not. Horgan announced 2-year logging deferrals on “2000 hectares” of old forest. It would have been monumental if, first, he had announced the permanent protection of 2000 hectares of actual old forest and then, second, had said something to this effect: “This is just the first, irrevocable step, one that can’t be backed away from in two years or ten, in our steadfast commitment to save the rest of BC’s now rare, biologically productive old forest, of which as little at 400,000 hectares remain in all of BC—can you believe we let that get so low? What an ecological catastrophe! Who were the nit wits-that engineered this fiasco!” That would have been monumental. Such a statement would have shown that Horgan wasn’t just playing kick-the-can-down-the-road. Instead, he kicked two cans down the road. First, the premier re-announced a 2-year deferral in the central Walbran that most of us already knew had been deferred in September 2020, and wasn’t in any danger of being logged. According to the Order In Council that established the deferral, it was to cover 1,489 hectares. Today the ministry recognized that it contains 1150 hectares of old forest. Second, Horgan deferred logging for 2 years in the “small area” that Teal Cedar Ltd has been claiming for months was all that the company could cut in Fairy Creek Valley because “most of the watershed is protected forest reserve or unstable terrain, and not available for harvesting.” After Horgan’s announcement, mapping released by the ministry of forests showed the area at Fairy Creek that’s been deferred for 2 years. Based on that mapping, we estimate there are about 100 hectares of the valley in the deferral area that weren’t already “protected forest reserve or unstable terrain,” as Teal Cedar Products Ltd has described it. Putting what Teal has said together with what Horgan announced today and the ministry has mapped, we find the surprising result that 100 + 1150 = 2000. If you’re thinking, “Wait, that doesn’t add up,” you’re correct. What that arithmetic shows is the sleight of hand used today by industry, the ministry and the premier. Last week, according to them, Fairy Creek Valley was almost all “protected forest reserve or unstable terrain.” This week, in a monumental step, the premier turned all that “protected forest reserve or unstable terrain” into a 2-year logging deferral. The Rainforest Flying Squad had originally been trying to save about 2100 hectares of contiguous rainforest, including the entire Fairy Creek Valley and areas of intact forest outside it. But their movement to save the last of the old-growth forest on southern Vancouver Island is apparently gaining more and more public support as their forest defences are assaulted by a militarized unit of the RCMP. What will they do now? Following Horgan’s announcement, the Flying Squad’s Saul Arbess made a gracious acknowledgment of Horgan’s monumental step: “It’s a good deferral, however it falls short of the deferrals required to pause logging in all of the critically endangered areas currently being defended, for generations to come.” Why would Arbess think 100 hectares is a “good deferral”? This is an important point. Arbess knows that the part of Fairy Creek Valley that Teal and the ministry have claimed are “protected forest reserve” are actually only “protected” until Teal and the ministry decide to move the “protection” to some other part of TFL 46. This happens all the time, all over BC, to Old Growth Management Areas, Wildlife Habitat Areas and other forms of transitory “protection” that have been created by the ministry of forests to create the appearance of protection—until such time as a company wants to log that “protected” area. If there was a monumental step taken today, it was that the ethical corruption that grips the ministry of forests and the forest industry was made plain, for everybody to see. To do this and then call it an “honouring” of a First Nations’ request is disturbing. When he isn’t out walking through forests, David Broadland is writing about the problems they face.
  7. The map below shows the "old-growth deferral areas" designated by Order in Council in September 2020. Read the story about these deferral areas here:
  8. Hi JOEY, Thanks for your comment. I think you may be reading into my report something that wasn't intended. It is well known that the Pacheedaht have forestry agreements regarding logging on their traditional territories. The comments above are in reference to a specific agreement between the Province and the Pacheedaht that was initiated by the Province in response to the blockades. The Province bought the Pacheedaht's cooperation and attempted to silence any Pacheedaht who disagreed. This agreement was made just before Teal Cedar Products Ltd filed its application for an injunction. I am surprised that you think getting 3 percent of the stumpage for logging in your territory is a fair exchange. Stumpage represents, on average in BC, about one-quarter to one-fifth of the market value of a log. In many cases it is far less than this. Bigger companies seem to know how to get stumpage down to the ground. So you are getting 3 percent of that one-quarter to one-fifth. That works out to between eight-tenths of one percent of the log's value and six-tenths of one percent. Your First Nation owns the resource, according to Supreme Court decisions. Getting between eight-tenths of one percent and six-tenths of one percent of the value of your resource doesn't strike me as a good deal. In the case of the Pacheedaht, the exploitation may be even deeper. According to the Province's Harvest Billing System, Pacheedaht Forestry Limited cut 16,925 cubic metres in its territory in 2020. For that they paid the Province $736,101.11 in stumpage. This worked out to $43.49 per cubic metre. In 2020, Teal Cedar Products Ltd harvested 801,064 cubic metres. This was spread between TFL 46 and other forest licences the company has. All those licences are on some First Nations' unceded territories. What stumpage rate did Teal pay? It averaged out to $14.87 per cubic metre. Why are the Pacheedaht paying $43.49 per cubic metre for a resource they own and Teal pays $14.87 per cubic metre for a resource it doesn't own? From the outside, this appears to be just a continuation of hundreds of years of exploitation. Why are you settling for that? For us ordinary settlers, we might want to check whether our wallet is still in our pocket, too. The stumpage collected by the Province doesn't come near to paying for the ministry of forests’ expenses.
  9. PREMIER JOHN HORGAN recently claimed he couldn’t resolve the tense and expensive standoff on Pacheedaht traditional territories between old-growth forest defenders and the RCMP. Why? Horgan told reporters, “The critical recommendation that’s in play at Fairy Creek is consulting with the title holders. If we were to arbitrarily put deferrals in place there, that would be a return to the colonialism that we have so graphically been brought back to this week by the discovery in Kamloops.” Actually, Horgan’s government had already signed an agreement (download at end of story) with the Pacheedaht in late February in which the economically impoverished First Nation agreed to accept a small annual payment “to accommodate any potential adverse impacts on the Pacheedaht First Nation’s Aboriginal Interests resulting from Operational Plans or Administrative and/or Operational Decisions.” In other words, logging. How small? The Pacheedaht accepted the equivalent of glass beads: $242,388 for the first year of the agreement, with no clear indication of what, if any, subsequent payments would be over the agreement’s 3-year term. What did the Pacheedaht have to do for that princely sum? For one thing, the band had to continue “consultation” with the Province, and to help the Pacheedaht do that the Province will provide an additional $35,000 per year to build the “capacity” within the community for consultation. Perhaps more significantly, the agreement requires the Pacheedaht to provide “assistance.” Such assistance would take two forms. First, the band agreed “it will not support or participate in any acts that frustrate, delay, stop or otherwise physically impede or interfere with provincially authorized forest activities.” Secondly, it agreed it “will 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.” The first part of the “assistance” portion of the agreement was aimed squarely at the defence of old-growth forest in TFL 46. The second was intended to stifle any expression of support for that defence from within the Pacheedaht, such as that given by Elder Bill Jones, Victor Peter, Katie George-Jim and Patrick Victor-Jones, all of whom have publicly supported the old-growth defenders. Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones speaking out at the Caycuse blockade (Photo by Michael Lo) The agreement was signed on February 21, just before Teal Cedar Products Ltd filed an application for injunctive relief with the BC Supreme Court on March 4. On April 1, that application was granted by Justice Frits E. Verhoeven. Enforcement of the injunction has led to over 170 people being arrested during weeks of standoffs between police and old-forest defenders. The cost of that enforcement is unknown but likely in the millions. Horgan has claimed that “consultations” with the Pacheedaht are ongoing and so ending the confrontation by removing Teal’s controversial permit to log in the Fairy Creek watershed would amount to a “return to colonialism.” Let’s compare dollars with glass beads. Over the past three years, according to the ministry of forests, Teal Cedar has removed 976,000 cubic metres of logs from TFL 46, which is mainly on unceded Pacheedaht territories. At an average value of $135 per cubic metre over those years, the logs Teal removed, before they were turned into lumber and other products at Teals’ Surrey mills, had a market value of about $132 million. That’s over a three-year period. What will the Pacheedaht—the legal owners of the land from which those forests were removed—get for three years of being quiet? The Pacheedaht will receive $277,388 in 2021 and $35,000 each year in 2022 and 2023 as long as they keep “consulting.” There’s nothing in the agreement that says they will get any more than a total of $347,388. Compare that with the estimated $132 million worth of logs Teal will tow away to feed its mills in Surrey. The Pacheedat will get the equivalent of three-tenths of one-percent of the “fibre” value of the forest Teal removes from their property. Anyone who has visited the Pacheedaht reserve will understand why they had to sign this agreement. Here’s the definition of colonialism: “The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.” Green Party MLA Adam Olsen, in a widely-circulated opinion piece, wrote: “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.” David Broadland is grateful to the Pacheedaht for allowing public access to the extraordinary forests, beaches and trails on their unceded territories. BC agreement with Pacheedaht signed february 17 2021.pdf
  10. Hi Northern Dude, thanks for your comments. You are correct that Canada forgave debt incurred by First Nations negotiating treaties in 2019. That did not undo the 30-year-long impact on First Nations communities trying to negotiate treaties at the expense of being able to address other pressing problems in their communities. The impact was cumulative and began long before treaty negotiations began, as you know. Forgiveness of the treaty debts didn't instantly make good the long years of financial repression. The debt has been built into these communities' physical condition. Under those conditions of economic repression, who could fault First Nations that entered into agreements focussed on extraction of natural resources? The ministry of forests is the primary agency through which the substance of these agreements is determined. With the interests of the ministry of forests and the interests of the forest industry being indistinguishable, such agreements naturally represent the interests of the forest industry. No community in BC, First Nations or otherwise, is unanimous in its view of these issues. A part of the Pacheedaht community wrote a letter that asked protesters to leave. That part of the Pacheedaht were apparently influenced by the BC government to write such a letter. The roots of that letter were apparently created by the resource agreement the Pacheedaht have signed with Teal and the Province. Other members of the Pacheedaht have welcomed the efforts to protect old-growth forest in Pacheedaht territory. We don't know the details of the agreement between the Pacheedaht, Teal and the ministry of forests. The ministry's Harvest Billing System shows no volume going to the Pacheedaht, whereas it does show a small volume going to Ditidaht Forestry (TFL 46 includes both Ditidaht and Pacheedaht traditional territories). How small? About one-half of one percent of the cut on TFL 46 is assigned to the Ditidaht. How much goes to the Pacheedaht? We don't know, but if it's similar to the Ditidaht, it's a tiny fraction of what Teal Cedar is booming off to Surrey. This sounds like continuing economic repression to me.
  11. BC Premier John Horgan reveals a new strategy to avoid meaningful change while accusing old-growth forest defenders of seeking a “return to colonialism” GARRY MERKEL AND AL GORLEY, after calling for a “paradigm shift” in how old forest is valued in BC, probably had no idea that John Horgan would move so fast. But the premier has spoken and with the stroke of a press conference BC has moved from the era of Talk and Log into the new paradigm of Talk with First Nations and Log. Here’s the situation Horgan faces: There’s growing public support for blockades of old-growth logging at Fairy Creek Rainforest in Horgan’s own riding. These actions involve hundreds of people—and it’s an All Ages event—committing acts of civil disobedience and risking arrest by a militarized police unit which has put restrictions on press access to the conflict zone and has denied the public the right to be on publicly-owned land. It’s happening daily and is unlikely to stop until the police start shooting people. In the face of all that, what does the premier chose to do? He releases a series of forestry-related “policy intentions.” None of these addressed the old-growth issue beyond vague language about possible future short-term logging deferrals. All of Horgan’s intentions seemed to depend on interminable private talks with First Nations. What was the premier thinking? In response to a question from a reporter, Horgan said, “The critical recommendation that’s in play at Fairy Creek is consulting with the title holders. If we were to arbitrarily put deferrals in place there, that would be a return to the colonialism that we have so graphically been brought back to this week by the discovery in Kamloops.” Horgan seemed to be saying that solving the crisis in public trust around this issue would be like murdering 215 First Nations kids, again. The premier’s convoluted rhetoric speaks for itself. The question that needs considering is this: Is Horgan using the paucity of First Nations’ treaty agreements to protect the forest industry from real change? He’s claiming that the government can’t make decisions about a new direction for forestry in BC unless those decisions include consultation with First Nations. Is this actually the case? Or have Horgan and his cronies in the forest industry just figured out a new, post-colonial version of talk and log? We might judge the answer to that on the basis of his government’s record of signing treaties with First Nations. In nearly 5 years in office, approaching year 30 of a process that began in the early ’90s, Horgan has signed exactly zero treaties, a record that’s far worse than former premier Christie Clark’s. With no actual record of successfully negotiating with First Nations for what really matters to them, Horgan appears to be using the injustice done to those communities to hide behind in order to avoid making hard decisions on new directions. Directions that he doesn’t yet know how to sell to his party’s labour base, new directions that reflect the need—in light of the climate and biodiversity crises and falling forest employment—to reframe our entire relationship with forests. The irony here is that this deeper, necessary reframing meshes with First Nations’ traditional wisdom and practices regarding the use of forests. Turning them into feller-buncher operators doesn’t. The BC treaty process, dragged out by endless consultations by an army of highly paid BC government lawyers, has bankrupted First Nations and left them desperate to recover financially. Those debts, and the damage they inflicted on First Nations communities for nearly three decades, are now being used by Horgan to keep firm the forest industry’s death grip on BC’s old-growth forests, just as those debts have been used in other resource disputes. That’s the real “return to colonialism” that’s taking place. Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC senior forest and climate campaigner, called today’s announcement an “Orwellian nightmare.” He added, “The old-growth crisis calls for immediate short-term funding for First Nations and forestry workers seeking an alternative to logging the last old-growth. Defending business as usual will only exacerbate conflicts like the one happening over Fairy Creek and undermine options for communities seeking an alternative to destructive resource extraction.” Horgan’s performance truly was an Orwellian moment. David Broadland is going to write about forests and politics until First Nations title and rights are reflected in just treaties for all BC First Nations, and trees are valued for what they provide just by standing in a forest.
  12. ACCORDING TO Madison’s Lumber Reporter, the price of 2x4s milled in BC reached a record high of just over $1600 USD per 1000 board feet at the end of April 2021. For the first four months of the year, the price had averaged about $1250. That average was approximately 3.3 times higher than for the same period in 2020. With almost all lumber in BC being cut from publicly-owned forests, you might think that huge price increase would translate into a financial windfall for BC residents. But data from the BC ministry of forests shows that for the first 4 months of 2020, the average stumpage collected across the province was $20.59 per cubic metre. For the first 4 months of 2021, that rose to $29.66. So while the value of products milled from public forests increased by 330 percent, the ministry of forests collected only 44 percent more, barely enough to cover the ministry’s own cost of providing forest management for the industry. The large jump in net revenue for forestry companies will make for some interesting financial statements in the coming months. In 2020, when lumber prices were one-third of their current level, Canfor, BC’s largest forestry company, reported a net operating income of $560 million. The ministry’s data also shows a huge surge in logging in 2021 over 2020. In the first 4 months of 2020, about 13.2 million cubic metres were cut in public forests. In the same period this year, 21.8 million cubic metres had been cut, up 65 percent. So not only are forestry companies getting a huge break on what they pay for wood compared to what the market pays them, they are cutting like there is no tomorrow. If logging continues at the current rate, the year’s cut will be about 15 million cubic metres higher than what the forest ministry’s own timber supply analyses have shown is sustainable in the mid-term. A logging truck heads to a log sort loaded with old-growth forest (Photo by TJ Watt) For some companies, the record high prices have had little effect on the stumpage they pay. In the first four months of 2020, Teal Cedar Products paid an average of $23.13 per cubic metre for wood it removed from publicly-owned land in TFL 46. For the same period in 2021—by which time lumber prices had more than tripled—Teal paid just 2 cents more per cubic metre than it had in 2020. Teal Cedar Products is the company whose logging operations in TFL 46 are being blockaded by the Rainforest Flying Squad, which is trying to prevent the company from cutting old-growth forest. A strategic review of old-growth forests in BC conducted in 2020, commissioned by the BC government, recommended an immediate moratorium on logging of old forest in areas where less than 10 percent remains, which would include much of TFL 46. BC Premier John Horgan promised—before last fall’s election—that his government would abide by the review’s recommendations. The blockades don’t seem to have hindered Teal’s access to trees in TFL 46 for its mills in Surrey. For the first four months of 2021, forests ministry data shows that Teal cut more in TFL 46 than it had in the same period in 2020, which turned out to be the company’s biggest cut since 2012. But the blockades have resulted in intense public scrutiny and criticism of Premier John Horgan’s dithering on the old-growth file. David Broadland splits his life between a primary forest on Quadra Island and an urban Garry oak meadow in Victoria.
  13. Details of an RCMP plan to end a protest against old-growth logging near Port Renfrew, outlined in an open letter to the RCMP from the Rainforest Flying Squad, suggest the plan may not be legal. AN OPEN LETTER to the RCMP from the Rainforest Flying Squad (RFS), the group of forest activists blockading logging of old-growth forests near Fairy Creek Rainforest, contains a bit of a slap in the face. The letter states that the RCMP’s Division Liaison Team have told RFS they will be given 6 hours notice before any police action will take place. But, the letter adds, the RCMP have said “that all persons who have not left after the six hours will be arrested.” Such police action, should it occur, would apparently violate the terms of the injunction stipulated by BC Supreme Court Justice Frits E Verhoeven. Verhoeven’s order appears to require that protesters be observed by the RCMP to be “obstructing, impeding, or otherwise interfering with” Teal Cedar’s access or the access of its contractors before protestors would be in contravention of the order. There are many people in the area supporting the protests in ways that have not involved standing on roads. To arrest those people because they are “in the area” would be about as heavy-handed as police can be, save tasering them at Big Lonely Doug. FOCUS contacted the RCMP’s Division Liaison Team (DLT) by email requesting confirmation that the DLT would arrest all persons who have not left after the six hours. The DLT did not immediately respond. Old-growth forest defenders near Fairy Creek Rainforest (Photo by Dawna Mueller) Civil disobedience actions in the past in BC, such as the months-long blockades of a logging road at Clayoquot Sound in 1993, only involved arrest of people after they had refused to leave a road once the RCMP had read the terms of an injunction to them. The RFS letter (link below) suggests the RCMP’s plan for how to handle the Fairy Creek protest may not be legal: “It should be noted that not all persons left will be in violation of [Justice Verhoeven’s] enforcement order listed below. All actions will be videoed and there will likely be media crews on hand. The world will be watching.” The Rainforest Flying Squad has filed an appeal of Verhoeven’s order granting Teal Cedar injunctive relief. It is unknown in what time frame an appeal would be considered. Teal filed for injunctive relief on February 18 and that was granted on April 1 by Verhoeven. Presumably, BC’s justice system would want to work as quickly in response to the appeal, filed on April 29. Since that appeal could be successful, any RCMP action in the interim could appear to pre-judge the outcome of the appeal. David Broadland stood on the road at Clayoquot Sound along with many thousands of other citizens. He admires the forest protectors’ commitment to embarrass the NDP government into doing what it said it would do. Open Letter to RCMP from Rainforest Flying Squad.docx
  14. Thanks for your comment. Readers may want to review Verhoeven's judgment, which I reviewed here. In his consideration of whether Teal had suffered "Irreparable Harm," Verhoeven restated the economic arguments that had been presented to him in affidavits prepared by Teal's legal team. While the above commenter would have readers believe the law is too mysterious for anybody but lawyers to understand, there is no mystery about how Verhoeven arrived at his decision that irreparable harm had been done—its in his judgment. But the numbers he uses in his consideration, which were provided by Teal and not questioned in court by either Verhoeven or the defendants' legal team, are deeply flawed. Any journalist could have found the factual information that the lawyers didn't. That's the service journalism is meant to provide.
  15. Photo: One of the blockades at Fairy Creek Rainforest Lawyers for the Rainforest Flying Squad filed an 8-point appeal with the BC Court of Appeal asking that the injunction granted to Teal Cedar be set aside. Go to story...

    © Dawna Mueller

  16. TODAY, LAWYERS ACTING ON BEHALF OF the Fairy Creek Rainforest blockaders filed an appeal of the April 1 judgment made by BC Supreme Court Justice Frits E. Verhoeven. Verhoeven granted injunctive relief to Teal Cedar, ruling that the blockades in TFL 46 were causing irreparable harm to the Surrey logging and milling company. The appeal, filed in the BC Court of Appeal, asked that Verhoeven’s judgment “be set aside due to: (a) The Court erred in deciding that the granting of the injunction be allowed on behalf of the Respondent, Teal Jones Products Ltd.; (b) The Court erred in allowing police authorities and/or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enforce the injunction against the Appellants; (c) The Court erred in its determination that the Respondent would suffer irreparable harm had the injunction not been granted; (d) The Court erred in failing to treat an injunction as an extraordinary remedy, especially in the context where arrests could be made but the police and Attorney General choose not to do so; (e) The Court erred in deciding the balance of convenience on one issue–the presence of a permit(s) to log; (f) The Court erred in failing to properly balance the public interest; (g) The Court erred in failing to analyse whether, in an area where there is a road-building permit but no cutting permit—a road building permit meets the irreparable harm branch of the test for an injunction; and, (h) The Court erred in applying the balance of convenience test determining the forestry decision to approve the Fairy Creek watershed Cutting Permit 7265 was a governmental policy consideration outweighing the public interest in preserving the few remaining old growth forests in British Columbia.” Despite the blockades, which were established in August 2020, Teal Cedar was able to harvest 437,982 cubic metres of logs from TFL 46 in 2020. That was an increase of 71 percent over 2018 and 55 percent over 2019. In announcing the appeal, the Rainforest Flying Squad observed that “the public interest in this case far outweighs the profit-making ability of a single entity and government.” David Broadland previously wrote about Justice Verhoeven’s judgment granting the injunction here and here.
  17. The Rainforest Flying Squad announced today that its legal team has filed an appeal of Justice Verhoeven's judgment granting an injunction to Teal. The appeal asked that the order be said aside due to: (a) The Court erred in deciding that the granting of the injunction be allowed on behalf of the Respondent, Teal Jones Products Ltd.; (b) The Court erred in allowing police authorities and/or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enforce the injunction against the Appellants; (c) The Court erred in its determination that the Respondent would suffer irreparable harm had the injunction not been granted; (d) The Court erred in failing to treat an injunction as an extraordinary remedy, especially in the context where arrests could be made but the police and Attorney General choose not to do so; (e) The Court erred in deciding the balance of convenience on one issue–the presence of a permit(s) to log; (f) The Court erred in failing to properly balance the public interest; (g) The Court erred in failing to analyse whether, in an area where there is a road-building permit but no cutting permit - a road building permit meets the irreparable harm branch of the test for an injunction; and, (h) The Court erred in applying the balance of convenience test determining the forestry decision to approve the Fairy Creek watershed Cutting Permit 7265 was a governmental policy consideration outweighing the public interest in preserving the few remaining old growth forests in British Columbia.
  18. The Rainforest Flying Squad announced today that its legal team has filed an appeal of Justice Verhoeven's judgment granting an injunction to Teal. The appeal asked that the order be said aside due to: (a) The Court erred in deciding that the granting of the injunction be allowed on behalf of the Respondent, Teal Jones Products Ltd.; (b) The Court erred in allowing police authorities and/or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enforce the injunction against the Appellants; (c) The Court erred in its determination that the Respondent would suffer irreparable harm had the injunction not been granted; (d) The Court erred in failing to treat an injunction as an extraordinary remedy, especially in the context where arrests could be made but the police and Attorney General choose not to do so; (e) The Court erred in deciding the balance of convenience on one issue–the presence of a permit(s) to log; (f) The Court erred in failing to properly balance the public interest; (g) The Court erred in failing to analyse whether, in an area where there is a road-building permit but no cutting permit - a road building permit meets the irreparable harm branch of the test for an injunction; and, (h) The Court erred in applying the balance of convenience test determining the forestry decision to approve the Fairy Creek watershed Cutting Permit 7265 was a governmental policy consideration outweighing the public interest in preserving the few remaining old growth forests in British Columbia.
  19. Image: Blockade at the Fairy Creek Rainforest As arrests at Fairy Creek Rainforest begin, arm yourself with some truth about what's actually happening. The injunction was obtained by inaccurate, self-serving descriptions of the impact of the blockades by Teal Cedar. Go to story

    © Dawna Mueller

  20. BC Premier John Horgan has an inflated view of what his government has done to save old-growth forests. IN AN APRIL 7 INTERVIEW with CBC Victoria’s Gregor Craigie, Premier John Horgan claimed his government has already responded to the Gorley-Merkel report on old-growth forests in BC. Horgan claimed that logging has been deferred on “hundreds of thousand of hectares” of old growth. Forest scientist Karen Price, one of the co-authors of BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity, has pointed out on this website that Horgan’s deferrals apply to only 3800 hectares of high productivity old growth. FOCUS has shown that a large portion of the biggest deferral included about 100,000 hectares of already protected Strathcona Park. Other deferrals are mainly rock and ice or second-growth forest. Horgan’s grasp of forest-related issues was further clarified by his claim to Craigie that “just in the Lower Mainland, 500 million hectares of land has been set aside just to protect the Spotted Owl.” What’s wrong with that? Watch the 1-minute video below. The problem for British Columbians is that Horgan seems clueless about the environmental damage being created by the forest industry in BC, and even more unaware about how his government is responding to that. Or maybe both his claims about the logging deferrals and the area protected for Spotted Owls were a slip of the tongue, or a joke. Either way, Craigie didn’t fact-check the premier on either matter. Is British Columbia’s mainstream media unintentionally enabling the unfolding ecological catastrophe in BC forests? If you have heard something about BC’s forest industry in the media that you think is doubtful, including what you read on this website, please let us know in the comments section below and we’ll fact-check that piece of information. Thanks to Dave Cuddy for drawing to our attention John Horgan’s surprising plan to save the Northern Spotted Owl.
  21. As arrests at Fairy Creek Rainforest begin, arm yourself with some truth about what's actually happening. The injunction was obtained by inaccurate, self-serving descriptions of the impact of the blockades by the company. IF THERE’S ONE SITUATION in which you would expect a company’s accountant to be accurate about the numbers, it would be in a sworn affidavit in which the company is seeking a high-profile injunction from the BC Supreme Court. Right? Not these days. Teal Cedar Products Ltd filed such an application in mid-February, asking for injunctive relief, enforceable by the RCMP, in response to ongoing blockades of some of its logging operations in TFL 46 on southern Vancouver Island. On April 1, Justice Fritz E Verhoeven ruled in favour of Teal’s application. Verhoeven accepted information in affidavits provided by Teal CFO Gerrie Kotze concerning the impact of the blockades on Teal. Some of the information was grossly inaccurate, and Verhoeven based his decision on that information. I wrote recently about the fact that Teal’s cut in TFL 46 rose dramatically above the previous two years’ logging in spite of the blockades. In 2018, when there were no blockades in place, Teal took 255,975 cubic metres of timber out of TFL 46. In 2019, again with no blockades in sight, the company removed 282,096 cubic metres. In 2020, the year in which the blockade started (in August), Teal trucked 437,982 cubic metres of logs out of the TFL. That’s an increase of 71 percent over 2018 and 55 percent over 2019. Teal Cedar Products Ltd is clearcutting old-growth forests, like this former forest in the Caycuse River Valley (Photo by TJ Watt) Yet Teal stated in its application that the company had suffered “irreparable harm” as a result of the blockades, and Verhoeven agreed. A finding of irreparable harm was a legally necessary condition for allowing Teal’s application for injunctive relief and civil damages. Not only did Teal apparently misstate the impact that the blockades had on its operations, but other details, including information in affidavits provided by Kotze, appear to seriously underestimate the value of the logs the company removed from TFL 46 and the value of the products manufactured from those logs. Verhoeven accepted this information, analysed it in his judgment and concluded that Teal had suffered irreparable harm. I find the details of this case particularly compelling because they demonstrate how, in the face of industrial destruction of Earth’s life support systems, institutions that are needed to support the public interest—like government and the courts—are failing the public. The evidence of this is deep in the details of this case. C’mon in. In a section of Teal’s injunction application covering “Impact of the Blockades,” the document stated: “Teal Cedar estimates that the value of the products manufactured from timber sourced from TFL 46 to be about $19.4 million, which is an incremental value-added over the value of the logs of approximately $9 million.” This statement cites “Kotze Affidavit #1” as the source of that information. Again, Kotze is Teal’s chief financial officer, and his numbers are not credible. The market value of the 437,982 cubic metres of raw logs removed from TFL 46 in 2020 was close to $60 million, based on the volume and the ministry of forests’ average log price that year. According to the ministry of forests’ Harvest Billing System, Teal paid $10,580,295.06 in stumpage to the Province for those logs, the most stumpage it has ever paid for its logging in TFL 46. The value of the wood products manufactured from the logs Teal removed from TFL 46 in 2020 was likely around $220 million, not $19.4 million. (FOCUS estimated this number by using information provided in Western Forest Products’ 2020 financial statement, and the volume Western Forest Products harvested from its coastal operations, as determined by the ministry of forests’ Harvest Billing System. Western Forest Products has TFLs on Vancouver Island, one of which is beside Teal’s TFL 46.) It’s evident that Teal grossly underestimated the value of the wood that it had removed in 2020. Yet that inaccurate information was then used by Justice Verhoeven to determine whether to grant Teal an injunction. Did Teal intentionally construct numbers that would lead Verhoeven to find in its favour? In the “Irreparable Harm” section of Verhoeven’s decision, the judge stated, “Teal employs approximately 450 people within its processing and manufacturing facilities. If Teal is unable to log within the area of TFL 46, it will not have an adequate timber supply for its mills. It may be forced to shut down its mills, resulting in layoffs of employees, and Teal’s inability to supply its customers. Teal estimates that the end product value of the products that it will produce from the timber sourced from TFL 46 is approximately $20 million. Teal stands to lose market share, and to suffer damage to its reputation as a reliable supplier of its products.” Two points stand out: First, Verhoeven’s speculation about Teal being “unable to log within the area of TFL 46,” suggests he had little understanding of the situation on the ground. According to the ministry of forests, there is plenty of second growth the company could have logged. It isn’t being defended by blockades. I will come back to this point later. Second, Verhoeven took the information Kotze supplied, added $600,000 for unknown reasons—rounding?—and used this updated total of “approximately $20 million” to find that Teal had suffered “irreparable harm.” As mentioned above, irreparable harm was a necessary condition for Verhoeven to award injunctive relief. Our estimate of $220 million for the value of products manufactured from logs removed from TFL 46 was only part of Teal’s revenue in 2020. In its application for an injunction, the company stated, “Teal Cedar relies on its own timber licences to supply approximately 50 percent of its fibre needs for the three mills, mostly from TFL46.” If TFL 46 supplied most of that 50 percent, then Teal’s total sales for all the volume it processed in 2020 would be roughly twice the $220 million we estimated for TFL 46, or $440 million. In its injunction application, Teal especially highlighted a decline in production of its Tonewood Division, which supplies old-growth Red Cedar to guitar manufacturers. For that division, Teal claimed a loss of $250,000. Based on our estimate of total sales of over $400 million in 2020, the Tonewood decline would represent a loss in sales of just five-tenths of one percent. To put that decline in perspective, Verhoeven’s careless rounding error in restating the “value of the products” produced by Teal amounted to $600,000. Teal didn’t provide any additional numbers that would have summarized how the value of its products—like lumber—declined, because they didn’t. They went up over sales in 2019. Way up. Keep in mind that the blockades are aimed only at Teal’s logging of old-growth forest. The company has plenty of second-growth forest available for logging in TFL 46. Verhoeven did not seem to understand this when he speculated that Teal would be “unable to log within the area of TFL 46.” The most recent (2011) review of the TFL by the ministry of forests set the allowable annual cut (AAC) for the TFL at 403,000 cubic metres, well under what the company took out in 2020. The 2011 review assumed that “at least 180,000 cubic metres per year” would come from second-growth stands. Over the past 11 years, Teal’s cut has averaged 392,172 cubic metres per year and the stumpage assessed by the ministry of forests has averaged $8.20 per cubic metre. Teal has been cutting close to the AAC and, until recently, paying very low stumpage rates. In 2011, it paid just 56¢ per cubic metre for 401,567 cubic metres of wood. Summary of Teal Cedar’s cut in TFL 46, 2010 to 2020. The average stumpage paid over those 11 years was $8.20 per cubic metre. Source: Ministry of forests Harvest Billing System Neither Teal’s application for an injunction nor Verhoeven’s judgment granting the injunction even mention the words “second growth.” Yet that is where Teal was expected, by the terms of its 2011 TFL review, to get nearly half its wood for its mills. The next review, which is past due, will need to increase the proportion of second growth in its cut because TFL 46 now has about 2.5 million cubic metres less old-growth forest than it had in 2011. This is a fact, and the blockades are a public response to this fact. Loss of old-growth forest and the impact that has on risk of biodiversity loss and loss of forest carbon are critical public interest issues that neither the justice system nor the provincial government seem to know how to address. These two institutions, apparently, are only able to assess the monetary value of old-growth forests for companies like Teal. As Teal’s easy manipulations of the numbers show, the court isn’t very good at doing even that. Teal is privately-owned, but Business in Vancouver provides information about the company on its website. According to that publication, Teal is the sixth largest forestry company in BC and employed 1000 people in BC in 2020, the same as in 2019. It also has a mill in Washington. Business in Vancouver estimates Teal had 1350 employees “worldwide” in 2019 and 1485 in 2020. Business in Vancouver’s information about Teal for 2012-2013 shows that back then the company had about 970 BC employees and estimated revenues of $200 million. FOCUS asked Teal and the lawyer who prepared its injunction application why the application had grossly underestimated the value of wood products manufactured and the volume of logs Teal removed from TFL 46 in 2020. We received no response. (If Teal responds after initial publication of this story, FOCUS will provide its response.) A private company might feel compelled to publicly underestimate revenue if it had inaccurately reported that revenue to Revenue Canada. In Teal’s case, however, when CFO Kotze testified to the court that the value of wood products sourced from TFL 46 was “$19.4 million,” it could be that Teal was simply trying to make it more likely that it would be awarded an injunction. The company’s injunction application stated: “Teal Cedar estimates the value of the timber rendered inaccessible by the Blockades to be approximately $10 million.” Verhoeven, taking Teal’s various numbers at face value, would have to conclude that the blockades had made $10 million worth of timber inaccessible. Then he would have compared that with the “$9 million” which Teal said it had been able to remove to make products valued at “$19.4 million.” In other words, Teal told Verhoeven that more than half of its timber had been made inaccessible by the blockades. And Verhoeven’s judgment, repeated over and over again by various media, would have the effect of spreading Teal’s misinformation as though it were the truth. Teal’s 2020 bumper harvest ought to be considered in context. In September 2019, Tom Fletcher and Lauren Collins reported for Black Press that 500 employees of Teal-Jones Group had lost their jobs after earlier layoffs in May of that year. At the time, Kotze told the reporters, “Current high stumpage rates remain high relative to lumber prices, and harvesting costs have been adversely impacted by new regulations to bring out more residual waste fibre…These negative factors have made it impossible for the company to continue its forest licences economically.” The reporters also quoted a long-time Teal employee, Bill Fulk, about the future: “There’s going to be ghost towns because it’s hard to find an employee to come [into] the wood industry because people are seeing that it’s going down and down and down,” said Fulk, adding that it’s becoming very difficult to find employees ‘that trust that the wood industry will continue on.’” Somehow, though, in spite of the existential challenges faced by the company—at least as described by the company, Justice Verhoeven and Black Press—2020 saw Teal’s third largest harvest in the last ten years. As a consequence, money rained down on the company as the blockaders took up position to defend what little remains of coastal old-growth forest. David Broadland hopes that as arrests of Fairy Creek Rainforest blockaders mount, the public will look beyond the inaccurate, self-serving, self-descriptions of the forest industry and its institutional allies and look for the truth. This story has been edited: The original version incorrectly stated Teal’s average yearly cut over the last eleven years. The average is 392,172 cubic metres, not 431,389 as originally stated. Teal Cedar Products Ltd application for injunction: 2021-02-18 Notice of Application.pdf Justice Verhoeven’s judgment
  22. Hmmm. You are probably referring to the "$20 million" mentioned by Verhoeven in his judgement. He said, "Teal estimates that the end product value of the products that it will produce from the timber sourced from TFL 46 is approximately $20 million." Presumably he meant to add "in a year," or some other measure of time. On this count, too, Verhoeven made a serious error in accepting Teal's information. I have asked Teal questions about the information they provided in their injunction application. Once I have those answers I will provide a second story addressing those numbers. It should suffice to say for now that the value of the wood products manufactured from wood cut in TFL 46 are far greater than "$20 million."
  23. Hmmm. You are probably referring to the "$20 million" mentioned by Verhoeven in his judgement. He said, "Teal estimates that the end product value of the products that it will produce from the timber sourced from TFL 46 is approximately $20 million." Presumably he meant to add "in a year," or some other measure of time. On this count, too, Verhoeven made a serious error in accepting Teal's information. I have asked Teal questions about the information they provided in their injunction application. Once I have those answers I will provide a second story addressing those numbers. It should suffice to say for now that the value of the wood products manufactured from wood cut in TFL 46 are far greater than "$20 million."
  24. Thanks for your comment Anthony. At least one lawyer has come forward offering his services pro bono to do an appeal of Justice Verhoeven's judgment. It took Teal eight months to seek the injunction. I can't see Teal doing this at all unless the company had some assurance from Premier Horgan that he would support it. Without such assurance there would be little to stop Horgan and his cabinet from deciding to avoid the spectacle of mass arrests by withdrawing permission for Teal to log in the general area of Fairy Creek. Given the findings of the Gorley-Merkel review of old-growth, which recommended that the government change how it values old-growth forests and put a moratorium on cutting old-growth forests like those at issue in the Port Renfrew area, the seeking of this injunction suggests that Horgan has no intention of moving in the direction Gorley and Merkel recommended. I think you are correct in calling out the BC NDP. Unless it changes its forest policy, this kind of conflict is going to go on for years.
  25. Thanks for your comment Anthony. At least one lawyer has come forward offering his services pro bono to do an appeal of Justice Verhoeven's judgment. It took Teal eight months to seek the injunction. I can't see Teal doing this at all unless the company had some assurance from Premier Horgan that he would support it. Without such assurance there would be little to stop Horgan and his cabinet from deciding to avoid the spectacle of mass arrests by withdrawing permission for Teal to log in the general area of Fairy Creek. Given the findings of the Gorley-Merkel review of old-growth, which recommended that the government change how it values old-growth forests and put a moratorium on cutting old-growth forests like those at issue in the Port Renfrew area, the seeking of this injunction suggests that Horgan has no intention of moving in the direction Gorley and Merkel recommended. I think you are correct in calling out the BC NDP. Unless it changes its forest policy, this kind of conflict is going to go on for years.
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