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David Broadland

David Broadland
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  1. BiF, When logs go into a sawmill—any sawmill—what comes out are sawn or planned lumber, wood chips, sawdust and shavings. It doesn't make any difference whether it's an old-growth log or a second-growth log, an old mill or a brand new mill. Those are the immutable by-products. The ministry of forests' own data show exactly how much of the volume of logs that go into sawmills, province-wide, is turned into lumber, sawdust, wood chips and shavings. The schematic of "fibre flows" below is from the ministry's 2019 Mill Survey. The big green area on the left is the volume of logs that went into sawmills. Immediately to its right is the breakdown into lumber (45.8 %), sawdust and shavings (17.05 %) and "By-products chips" (35.2 %). Note that all of the wood chips, whether they are old-growth wood chips or second growth wood-chips, go into pulp mills. This seems to come as a surprise to you. That's why I called this story, "Teal Cedar's big, dirty secret". The mindustry have managed to keep this a secret from you, but it is what it is. The logging and milling industry is an intrinsically wasteful industry. Since its main products are low value (wood chips, sawdust, shavings and the immense volume of logging slash and dead biomass left in the clearcuts), its always going to be economically marginal without huge, hidden public subsidies. That's why it's always in need of another concession or handout from the public purse (lower stumpage, more raw log exports, payment for removing logging residue, etc, etc).
  2. Thanks for your comment Paul. There's a 2019 summary of the industry point of view. Google "British Columbia's Forest Industry and the Regional Economies." COFI is a small company of people employed by BC's logging industry to shape the public's understanding of the industry. What it reports conveys what the logging companies want the public to think about the industry. Accuracy has never played an important role in the industry's portrayal of itself. The industry is in decline but COFI has managed to obscure that through reports such as the one you link to. And its propagandizing works, with help from the forests ministry. A prominent Vancouver Sun political columnist recently asked a question at a press briefing attended by forests ministry communications officers. This columnist noted that giving back 10 percent of the volume of BC tenures to First Nation would mean "7.5 million cubic metres...." What the columnist apparently didn't realize is that 10 percent of the cut in 2020 would have amounted to 4.9 million cubic metres. That is, thanks to the industry's blather about itself, this columnist had no idea of the current harvest. None of the ministry staff at the briefing spoke up to correct the columnist's misinformation.
  3. Thanks for your comment, Rick, but you are mixing up the Joneses. This is easy to do. There is Teal Jones, the company doing the logging. There's a number of Pacheedaht families that have "Jones" in their name (no relations to the Jones family that runs Teal Jones, as far as I know). And there is the outspoken Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones who you credit with being okay to log old-growth forest. This is not true. The Narwhal reported: "Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones has a different point of view that has garnered extensive national and international media coverage. He has welcomed the protesters to Fairy Creek, urging people to continue to take direct action to stop all old-growth logging in his nation’s territory. “I implore people to continue to stand with me to protect our forests from destruction and colonialism because we need allies on the ground to stop old-growth logging in my home territory, and for my future generations and relatives,” Jones says in an interview with his niece, Kati George-Jim, who is from the T’Sou-ke First Nation and supports the blockades."
  4. The Mt. Hayes Fire very near to Ladysmith started in a clearcut just northwest of town on August 19. According to BC Wildfire Services tracking, its perimeter so far is almost entirely within clearcuts and plantations. A short distance to the west is a gas plant (white tank in image below) and a short distance to the east is Ladysmith. Hopefully BCWS will be able to get the fire out quickly.
  5. Thanks for your comments Don. I hear what you are saying and I trust your judgment. I didn’t include satellite images from before and after a fire to show what happens on the ground, but these provide valuable insight into what is burning and what is surviving in these large fires. For example, I have assembled before and after images of an area of the 192,000-hectare 2017 Elephant Hill Fire. Just south of Hihium Lake the fire burned quite intensely. The RESULTS-Openings record for that area show that almost everything had been logged before the fire struck. After the fire, almost everything cut in the last 25 years and then replanted, is completely gone or badly damaged. The few patches of primary forest that remained before the fire survived relatively well. 30-year-old plantations appear to have survived quite well, too. What’s needed, I think, is for the ministry to conduct, in public, an analysis of what is being burned in these big fires and what is surviving. It needs to show us the results as well as the data it used to get those results. They can do that from satellite imagery, so it wouldn't be expensive. If the ministry doesn't do it, and soon, I know of some people who will. Below are some images from the Elephant Hill Fire. Each is of exactly the same area. The top one is from 2011, just as the MPB salvage program was ramping up. It shows how much primary forest remained then (dark green). The middle image is from about 2019, two years after the fire. The bottom image is from RESULTS-Openings mapping and the red-shaded areas show what had been logged before the fire struck. The areas that are not red-shaded show what had not yet been logged. Most of those areas survived reasonably well. Click on an image to enlarge it.
  6. Hi Sean, Thanks for sharing your concerns. I mention in the story that about 20 percent of what's cut in BC is used for BC's own needs. There are currently around 50,000 people directly employed by the entire industry. As you know, most of those jobs are on the manufacturing side of the industry, and those jobs occur in urban centres like Vancouver, Nanaimo, Kamloops, Prince George and smaller cities/towns. Reducing the cut to one-fifth would reduce employment by 40,000 jobs if no attempt was made to transition to value-added wood product manufacturing. Non-destructive use of the forest could produce far more jobs. As a carbon sink and a natural carbon sequestration system, BC's forests are more valuable to the public than they are as dead wood exports to China, the USA and Japan. Same applies to the potential for forests as a resource for recreation, education, research, medicine and spiritual well-being. As you know, the logging-milling industry shed 50,000 jobs between 2000 and 2019, largely due to mechanization and reduction in the availability of old-growth. That's in just 20 years. You've already lost most of the jobs and you will lose all of them—including the potential for non-destructive forest-related employment—unless you change. It's past time to be relying on the we-can't-change-or-we-would-lose-jobs excuse. I believe there is adequate description in the story of the impact of logging that occurred as a consequence of the Mountain Pine Beetle. The story acknowledges that areas logged under the beetle salvage logging program, including the large areas of non-pine logging that occurred alongside it, are playing a significant role in some of the fires in that those large logged areas now have a higher fire hazard. But the ministry and the industry have long used the beetle as a smoke screen to obscure the extent of logging of live trees that took place at the same time. As shown in the graph below, over 60 percent of the merchantable volume of trees killed in BC between 2000 and 2019 was a result of logging. 30 percent of the volume lost was from Mountain Pine Beetle kill. 10 percent was from fires. That's for the province as a whole. When you look at the numbers for the Timber Supply Areas currently being hit hardest by large fires, the impact of MPB logging was much smaller. The following figures cover the years 2010-2019 (the years of the MPB salvage logging program) and include MPB salvage logging, MPB sanitation logging and salvage of lodgepole pine killed by fire: In the Okanagan TSA, where the White Rock Fire is burning, 94 percent of the cut was unrelated to MPB or fire-killed pine. In the 7 TSAs in the Kootenay-Boundary Natural Resource District, about 98 percent of the cut was unrelated to MPB or fire-killed pine. Yet that area has many large fires this year, including Octopus Creek and Michaud Creek at about 30,000 hectares between them. Logging in the Lillooet and Merritt TSAs (several big fires) was 80 percent unrelated to MPB or fire-killed pine. Of this year's fire stricken areas, Kamloops TSA had the highest percentage of MPB-related logging. Still, 76 percent of logging there wasn't MPB-related or fire-killed pine. You can find all these numbers in another article I wrote here. You say that scientists warned that aggressive fire behaviour would follow the Mountain Pine Beetle. Did those scientists warn that aggressive wildfire behaviour would follow logging of live trees, too? I think it's past time to stop using the MPB epidemic as the mindustry's get-out-of-jail-free pass.
  7. Jim, thanks for your comments. We need to hear from more foresters on this issue and I appreciate that you were willing to share your thoughts. I am continuing to update the fire perimeter-RESULTS mapping and will add new and updated maps.
  8. Our investigation found the ministry of forests with its collective head in the sand and the logging industry feeding on the huge public expenditure of money used to fight the fires. The Doctor Creek fire, the largest in the province in 2020. This BC Wildfire Service photo shows all three fuels BC’s forest fires are burning: Mature forest, plantations and clearcuts. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY LARGE, OUT-OF-CONTROL FIRES burning in BC’s Interior this summer? It’s partly the result of extreme hot weather made worse by climate change, but testimony provided to an Oregon court in 2019 revealed that clearcut logging, followed by replanting, creates fuel conditions that make fires easier to ignite and harder to control. These effects persist for decades. Since the area being logged each year in the Interior has more than doubled since the 1970s, southern BC has become a Molotov cocktail of clearcuts and young plantations ready to explode into flames with the first lightning strikes of summer. The Oregon testimony arose because a land conservation organization, Oregon Wild, sued the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for failing to disclose the extent to which logging on public land near an Oregon community would raise forest fire hazard. The Oregon case included written testimony from a BLM fuels specialist, provided under oath, that stated that logging and plantations increase forest fire hazard. Those two fuel conditions make a fire easier to ignite and harder to control. Here’s the relevant testimony by the BLM fuels specialist (we quote from the court judgment record): “The change from a ‘mature’ to an ‘early successional’ stand structural stage would change the associated stand-level hazard from low to moderate/high. The stands would go from a timber model to a slash fuel model with higher predicted flame length, fire duration, and intensity and decreased ability to control a fire, with the greatest risk of a fire start during the first 5 years following harvest. Over the next 10 to 40 years, stands would transition through stages associated with high stand-level fire hazard rating and go from a slash fuel to a brush fuel type, which are more volatile and susceptible to high fire-caused mortality rates. These potential fires would have high flame lengths, rates of spread, and intensity and would be difficult to initially attack and control. Overall fire hazard would increase for 5 to 20 years following planting, then drop from high to moderate after the next treatment.” Logging slash in an Interior clearcut (Photo by Sean O’Rourke/Conservation North) Fire hazard, as referred to in the testimony, isn’t quite what I thought it was, so I should outline the meaning of that term for you. A “fire hazard rating” is an assessment of the fuel comprised of living and dead vegetation in an area—a mature forest or a clearcut or a plantation, for example. The assessment estimates the ease with which a fire can be ignited, and, once ignited, the fire’s resistance to human control. If a fire ignites in a high hazard area, or encounters such an area, it can spread more easily than in mature forest. Fire hazard is independent of weather-related factors like moisture content, humidity, temperature or wind speed—all of which are influenced by climate change. Instead, hazard is all about fuels: the volume, type, condition, arrangement, and location that determines the degree of ease of ignition and the resistance to control. The distinction between climate effects and fuel effects is necessary to make for one important reason. Although the forests ministry can’t directly control climate change, it does have full control of how much of BC’s publicly owned forests are converted from a low fire hazard rating to a medium/high hazard rating each year. Since the early 1970s the ministry has ramped up the production of clearcuts and plantations—and, as a consequence, the fire hazard. The growing prevalence of clearcuts and plantations The ministry of forests’ record of the extent of logging on publicly owned land shows there has been a large increase over the last 50 years. In the first five years of the 1970s, an average of 105,000 hectares of Crown land was being cut each year. In the 5-year period ending with 2018, that had risen to 240,000 hectares each year, a 230 percent increase. Data crunching by David Leversee, based on the ministry of forests’ RESULTS Openings and Consolidated Cutblocks. Over the past 40 years, about 8.5 million hectares of BC’s publicly owned forest have been logged. Based on the BLM fuel specialist’s testimony that the fire hazard associated with a plantation would be higher than the mature forest it replaced for up to 40 years, we can project that as much as 8.5 million hectares of BC now have an elevated level of fire hazard as a consequence of logging and replanting. That means 8.5 million hectares where fires will ignite more easily than mature forest, and 8.5 million hectares where fire will be harder to control. That number doesn’t include logging on private land. It’s that growing prevalence of clearcuts and plantations that’s worrisome. Lightning strikes in those areas will be more likely to ignite and the resultant fires will be more difficult to control than in mature forest. Lightning is the most common cause of forest fires in BC. Obviously, then, if there’s more land where fires are easier to ignite, more fires will occur. If fires are initially more difficult to control, they are more likely to grow. And once a fire grows large enough to start encountering multiple areas of higher-hazard fuels—like clearcuts and plantations—the fire becomes more and more difficult to control. If the area of the province that’s subject to this higher fire hazard is growing—and it is—then larger fires will become more numerous. That’s exactly what we are seeing this summer. One method of judging the prevalence of clearcuts and plantations is to view satellite imagery of Crown land. I highly recommend this to anyone skeptical about the extent to which publicly owned forests have been converted to higher fire hazard clearcuts and plantations across BC. Below is a satellite image of part of the area involved in the Flat Lake Fire: Satellite images show a lot of deceptively green areas. Unless you have been trained to interpret aerial imagery, it can be difficult to know what you are looking at. Many of the green areas in the image above are high-hazard plantations, many of which have now been burned. A better picture of the prevalence of clearcuts and plantations involved in the fires can be obtained by superimposing the ministry of forests’ fire perimeters onto the ministry’s record of logging in these areas. We’ve done that in the images below of four perimeters of 2021’s largest fires, shown as black lines. Past logging is indicated by the red-shaded areas. Each fire’s point of ignition is indicated by a bright red dot. The white areas are remaining primary forest or rangeland. Protected areas, like provincial parks, are shaded green. In each case you will notice that the area of past logging overwhelms the landscape. The August 6 perimeter of the 60,000-hectare Flat Lake Fire (black line) superimposed on top of the BC ministry of forests’ RESULTS Openings record of logging (red-shaded area). The green-shaded area is Flat Lake Provincial Park. August 8 perimeter of the Sparks Lake Fire. On its west side, the fire burned to the edge of the massive 2017 Elephant Hill Fire, which burned through the logging indicated on the left side of the image above. August 8 perimeter of the Tremont Creek Fire southeast of Cache Creek. The August 8 perimeter of the White Rock Fire. The ministry of forests’ record of logging in the RESULTS Openings database misses some of the logging that has occurred. The area within the fire perimeter near Okanagan Lake (right side) has actually been heavily logged. The ministry’s records show that several of BC’s largest fires this summer were ignited in a clearcut or plantation and then quickly grew out of control. The White Rock Lake Fire ignited in an area of logging that was replanted in 2007. The Flat Lake Fire started when lighting struck a clearcut that was logged in 2015. The Sparks Lake Fire began beside a large area logged in the mid-1980s. The Octopus Creek Fire was ignited by lightning in an area logged in 2005 and planted in 2006. The Young Lake Fire was started by lightning in a clearcut logged in 2006 and replanted twice, in 2012 and 2015. And so on. Every one of the big fires in the southern Interior, no matter how they started, consumed thousands of hectares of clearcuts and plantations. The widespread conversion of BC forests from areas of low fire hazard to medium-high hazard by the logging industry is clearly playing a decisive role in the size of forest fires. Patrick Byrne, district manager of the 100-Mile-House Natural Resource District, declined to answer questions about the role clearcuts and plantations are playing in the Flat Lake Fire, but Byrne did note that “the fires burn quite nicely through plantations.” The aggressive behaviour of fires fuelled by clearcut logging slash and plantations puts firefighters in greater danger. BC Wildfire Service fire incident reports filed from the field often note extreme fire behaviour related to the fuel loading in clearcuts. A report from a fire in 2018 warned: “The slash blocks have more fuel loading than the standard slash fuel type, expect higher intensity. This higher intensity can cause fire whirls to develop, this would cause rapid fire growth and increased spotting potential.” Spotting refers to embers travelling downwind and starting new fires. Many incident reports from different fires make similar observations about the impact of the fuel in clearcuts on fire behaviour. A fire whirl in a clearcut fire (Photo by BC Wildfire Service) The impact of clearcut logging on fires will last a very long time Fire hazard rating is, by definition, independent of the moisture content in fuel. Yet the dryness of a clearcut, plantation or area of mature forest has a large influence on the speed with which fire can spread. Clearcutting exposes the land to the full strength of the sun, evaporating ground moisture and lowering humidity, important factors driving increased fire size and severity. Clearcuts also allow drying winds and higher temperatures to more easily penetrate the edges of adjacent forest. BC forester Herb Hammond contends that “clearcuts are clear culprits for heating up and drying out not only the immediate area where they occur, but also the surrounding landscape. They change local and regional weather patterns, and turn former heterogeneous, ecologically resilient stands and landscapes into homogeneous, ecologically vulnerable stands and landscapes. Their vulnerability is well documented in both the rise of insect epidemics, which clearcuts are allegedly meant to suppress, along with wildfire risk.” BC Forester Herb Hammond The drier conditions caused by the widespread use of clearcut logging in BC will persist far longer than the BLM fuel specialist’s predicted “10 to 40 years” of higher fire hazard, as Hammond explains: “Forests, particularly as they grow older, conserve water in large part due to complex, multi-layer canopies, and overall composition and structure that are all geared to slowing the movement of water through the forest, while filtering and storing water at the same time. Clearcuts, on the other hand, expose the land to rapid water loss. After a clearcut in montane Interior forests, 150 to 200 years of natural stand development are necessary to get back to something close to the level of water conservation provided by intact, natural old forests. If one takes into account the development of decayed fallen trees that are needed to store and filter water, that could be doubled to 300 to 400 years. Most of these vital fallen tree structures get destroyed in high-production, mechanized clearcutting.” The dryness of clearcuts and young plantations is evident to anyone who has walked through one on a hot summer day and then stepped into the shade of adjacent mature forest. The difference in temperature and humidity is startling. That difference can even be measured by satellite imaging using microwaves. The top image below shows clearcuts near the Brenda Creek Fire in the Peachland area on July 16. The image below that shows the relative moisture content on the ground that same day. The dark blue areas contain the most moisture and the red areas are the driest. Yes, those red-yellow-orange areas are all clearcuts. (Graphics courtesy of David Leversee) There are several other aspects of how clearcut logging is practiced in BC that have had an impact on fire size. For example, in the Interior, the practice of “managed” forests has evolved to mean managed coniferous forests. Deciduous stands are eradicated, often using glyphosate sprayed from helicopters, so that more commercially valuable coniferous stands can be planted instead. This, too, has made Interior forests more vulnerable to large fires. James Steidle, forest activist, has campaigned against this practice in the Prince George forest district. Steidle observes: “The conifer-dominated forest type we are actively encouraging is highly flammable, while the broadleaf aspen forest type we are actively eliminating is incredibly fire resistant. With a few caveats, the conclusion is undeniable. According to a 2001 study by Steve Cummings et al, pine forests are 8.4 times more likely to burn compared to aspen forests, based on historical data.” With fewer stands of fire-resistant deciduous trees to slow down or stop fires, larger fires are inevitable. Another dubious ministry policy has been “salvage logging” of healthy non-pine forest stands alongside lodgepole pine killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Several of the largest fires in the Interior during the last six years have included thousands of hectares of salvage logging. The ministry of forests allowed companies that were awarded salvage logging licences to take not only dead pine, but healthy living trees as well. The ministry’s own records show that only 15 percent of the logging that occurred in BC since 2010 has been dead pine. Hammond is scathing about the salvage program and its consequences: “For a stand to be eligible for salvage stumpage rates, all that was needed was for the stand to have a lodgepole pine component of 3 percent or more. This led to a massive windfall for logging companies, which clearcut thousands of hectares of diverse, mixed species natural forests, many of them old growth, under the guise of ‘pine beetle salvage.’ These were the precise stands on which ecological recovery would have been centred through natural succession. Instead, the bulk of these areas have been converted to young lodgepole pine forests, as that species was the easiest to naturally regenerate and meet ‘reforestation’ requirements by the timber companies. So, the forest industrial complex have simply set up the forest landscape for both more frequent severe fire, and an even larger beetle outbreak—if the trees escape climate disruption.” Hammond predicts the relentless removal of primary forest in the Interior will eliminate essential ecological functions of old forest, and that will lead to more pine beetle epidemics, more “salvage logging,” more giant clearcuts and—inevitably—to more large fires: “Mixed species old-growth forests were once randomly scattered throughout the forest landscapes of much of the Interior. These forests were the home to carnivorous beetles who eat herbivorous beetles—like the Mountain Pine Beetle—and also the home for many cavity nesting birds that prey on herbivorous beetles. So, as long as these forests were found throughout the landscape, they served as important agents to keep bark beetle populations in balance. Along with all of the other benefits of old-growth forests and diverse natural landscapes, these benefits have been eradicated by timber-biased ‘forestry’ that increasingly has no place in BC or anywhere in the world.” Hammond believes the industry and their ministry partners have created a bleak future for BC forests: “The omnipresent danger of fire and ongoing drought, coupled with inhospitable soil and atmospheric moisture and temperature, call into question whether trees in clearcuts will ever grow to merchantable size in many clearcut areas. Indeed, we are already seeing plantation die off, including death by fire. Particularly in the Interior, we may soon begin to see ecosystem shifts, where former forests become degraded shrub ecosystems.” The growth in fire size is having broad impacts, including physical damage to communities and infrastructure, long periods of pervasive, health-damaging smoke, disruption to local economies, loss of large areas of wildlife habitat and loss of protected areas. The fires, partly a symptom of climate change, will worsen it: burned forests and plantations can’t continue to sequester carbon and the fires are releasing immense quantities of carbon to the atmosphere. Those emissions have doubled every 9 years since 1990, an exponential increase. Carbon emissions from forest fires are on track to double every 9 years since 1990. The current 9-year period runs until 2026, but 2021’s fires will likely be all that’s needed. The ministry has its head in the sand With the forest fire problem growing in size at an alarming rate, you would think the BC ministry of forests would have put significant resources and effort into understanding how the higher fire hazard of clearcuts and plantations is fuelling the growth in fire size. But the ministry appears to be avoiding the issue. FOCUS filed an FOI for any technical or scientific reports produced for the ministry between 2010 and 2020 that considered the relationship between logging and forest fire frequency, size, behaviour or intensity. Throughout that period, it was clear that the area being burned in BC during long, hot summers was growing rapidly. Had the ministry investigated? Our FOI request produced a single study (see link at end of story) conducted by the ministry during that period that examined how fire behaviour was affected by man-made changes to forests. The records released show that in 2019, the ministry started the “Fuel Treatment Efficacy Project” to examine how different fuel-reduction treatments, like thinning or broadcast burning, had impacted subsequent forest fire behaviour and fire suppression tactics. The $50,000 internal study considered 17 forest fires, only one of which was in an area that had been “100 percent logged.” The researchers gave that fire “low priority” for further study. The main finding of study, as indicated in the 7-page report, was that there was “a paucity of examples” where forest fire had interacted with fuel treatments. Given the high stakes, it’s difficult to understand why the ministry of forests hasn’t examined the impact of logging and plantations on worsening fire behaviour in BC. Fighting those fires is increasingly costly, as I will describe below. Yet, judging by its response to our FOI, the ministry hasn’t lifted a twig to understand what’s happening. This failure is worrisome, and may stem from the transition of the ministry over the past 30 years from functioning as a regulator of the logging industry to being its primary enabler. It is perhaps unreasonable to expect that an organization that works every day to maximize logging would, at the same time, spend money and effort on digging up evidence that clearcuts and plantations are feeding large forest fires. Besides, the ministry knows that logging slash raises fire hazard. That’s why it requires logging companies to burn hundreds of thousands of slash piles every year in an attempt to lower the fire hazard that fuel poses. BC forester John Waters knows, too. In a 5000-word treatise advising his fellow Woodlot Licence tenure holders what they needed to do to reduce fire hazard after their logging, Waters summed it all up: “Decades of wildfire research and examination of large wildfires shows that wildfire spreads most rapidly in areas where there is an abundance of dry, fine fuel or old unburnt piled slash accumulations.” The ministry is very careful to never explicitly admit the obvious. If lack of fire hazard abatement results in injury, death or property loss, the Province and its industry partners could be held legally responsible for damages. The closest the ministry comes to acknowledging the higher fire hazard caused by logging is contained in its Guide to Fuel Hazard Assessment and Abatement in British Columbia, last updated in 2012. The Guide states: “In some timber harvesting circumstances, it will be impracticable to reduce fuel loads sufficiently so that potential fire behaviour is not increased relative to pre-harvest conditions.” Given the growing size of forest fires and the huge associated economic and environmental costs, we might ask why it would ever be “impracticable” to reduce fuel loads. Surely it should now be clear to the ministry that if reducing fire hazard would be “impracticable,” then logging should never occur in the first place. The Guide, of course, has nothing at all to say about reducing the fire hazard posed by plantations, which have, according to the BLM fuels specialist, the highest fire hazard. No worries. The ministry is already solving that problem. According to the ministry’s own records of the area logged and area replanted between 2000 and 2017, 1.2 million more hectares were logged than were planted. Just how bad this problem actually is depends on which ministry record of how much logging has occurred is used: the one made publicly available (below in black), or the one based on the ministry’s best data (red). Just to be clear, I am not advocating for leaving clearcuts unplanted. I am pointing out that our forests are not in good hands. They are being ransacked, and so is the public purse. The money whirl: Who benefits economically from forest fires? The ministry seems to have in place all of the policies needed to make fires worse and few that would mitigate the risk. One result is that fighting forest fires is costing BC taxpayers a lot more. In the 5 years starting with 2010, fire management cost BC $1.02 billion. In the following five years it more than doubled to $2.12 billion. Indeed, fighting forest fires has become a big business in BC, and much of the economic rewards from that business flow back to the logging industry itself. Of the $2.1 billion spent on fire management by the ministry of forests between 2015 and 2019, just under 70 percent was paid to private companies for services provided in the increasingly difficult battle to contain forest fires. Through an FOI request for records, FOCUS obtained details of payments totalling $1,471,832,630 (see link at end of story for complete list). Fires in 2017 and 2018 accounted for over 70 percent of that cost. Who benefitted? On the ground, fighting big forest fires requires constructing fire breaks and other measures that involve logging company personnel and equipment. So, paradoxically, a company that logged an area that was later involved in a fire could end up being contracted by the ministry to help fight the fire. Tolko Industries, which has created what are among BC’s largest clearcuts, was paid $4.6 million for work it did during the 2017 and 2018 fire seasons. During the five years covered by the records, there were 150 small companies with the word “Logging” in their company name that received, on average, $200,000 each for fire fighting operations during fire season. Seventy-two company names on the list included “Trucking” and 35 contained “Excavating.” Eighty-two companies provided helicopter services and the top 10 helicopter companies alone were paid $148 million. The private business at the very top of the money whirl was Conair, a BC-based company that provides fixed-wing air services for fighting forest fires. Over a five-year period Conair was paid $96,466,895.60. Next on the list were Perimeter Solutions Canada Ltd ($54,703,223.38) and Air Spray (1967) Ltd ($43,670,860.94). Perimeter and Air Spray supply fire retardant and retardant delivery to fires by aircraft. The $100 million spent on those services points to another level of damage that may be occurring as a result of the over-exploitation of BC’s forests. Fire retardants are known to be harmful to aquatic life, especially to stream-type chinook salmon smolts. Many chinook salmon populations in BC are now considered threatened. The growing use of fire retardants to fight BC’s forest fires is just one more threat to the species’ survival. Even transferring money to the over 8600 entities on the fire-fighting money list was expensive for BC taxpayers. For example, use of a Bank of Montreal Mastercard account cost hapless taxpayers $20,607,365.60. Since many of the companies that are receiving payments for fighting fires are the same companies that create the higher fire hazard of clearcuts and plantations in the first place, there is, to say the least, an appearance of a conflict of interest. An air tanker drops a load of fire retardant on a clearcut fire in 2017 (Photo by BC Wildfire Service) Forget Brazil. BC's per capita rate of forest removal is worse than Bolivia's. The response to the growing size and cost of fires from those with an economic stake in continuing logging as usual in BC forests all have one thing in common: No one ever suggests reducing the ongoing production of clearcuts and plantations, the inevitable consequences of logging. Quite the opposite, in fact. Industry and government both know that as time goes on and less and less primary forest is available to be cut, to keep volumes up at mills will require even greater areas of clearcuts and plantations to be created. That’s the ministry’s plan, and that promises an even more catastrophic future for BC. If you’ve come this far in my story, you must be looking for a solution to the mess the mindustry has created. If so, ask yourself these questions: Could the rate at which primary forest is converted to clearcuts and plantations be reduced? Or is the current rate of forest exploitation needed just to meet BC’s own basic need for products derived from forests? Ministry of forests’ data shows that 80 percent of the value of BC forest products comes from exports, and most of those go to China, the USA and Japan. So BC is cutting far beyond meeting its own needs for wood products. The extreme nature of that over-cut becomes apparent when BC’s rate of forest-cover loss is compared with other states that are, like BC, heavily forested. Consider Bolivia. It’s the 8th most heavily forested country in the world. It has an area of 1.099 million square kilometres, just slightly larger than BC’s 944,735. When you do the arithmetic, Bolivia’s forest-cover loss from all causes between 2001 and 2019 amounted to .545 hectares per capita. BC lost 1.66 hectares per capita, more than three times Bolivia’s loss. Yet when we compare per capita income between BC and Bolivia, there’s no question about which country has the greater need to exploit its forests. In 2010, the mid-point of the 20-year period we’re considering, Bolivia’s per capita income was around $1900 per person. BC’s was $41,327. So Bolivia had a vastly greater economic need to exploit its forest resource than BC did. Yet BC’s per capita rate of forest loss was three times as high as Bolivia’s. Keep in mind, too, that BC’s high per capita GDP had little to do with the forest industry, which in 2010 accounted for only 2.5 percent of BC’s GDP, according to the BC government. By 2019, that had fallen to 1.8 percent. By the way, if you take the forest-cover loss attributable to the beetle epidemic and forest fires out of BC’s total and compare that to loss from all causes in other countries, BC still has the worst record, as shown below: Back in the late 1980s, we used to say “BC is the Brazil of the north,” to express our disapproval for what the government and logging industry were doing to BC forests. That’s no longer even remotely appropriate. Now the global forest destruction putdown ought to be, “Bolivia is the British Columbia of the south.” And Brazil? On a per capita basis, Brazilians are forest angels by comparison. It’s evident that the extreme rate of forest removal in BC that’s fuelling large forest fires has, in turn, been fuelled by the high level of exports. That has been supported by a forests ministry that long ago stopped regulating the industry and now whole-heartedly facilitates extreme logging. Successive BC governments have chosen to go along with this, thinking that somehow this must all be good for the economy, and if it’s good for the economy, that’s all that matters to most politicians. Now that choice is having severe consequences. Unless BC breaks away from converting low-hazard primary forests into higher-hazard clearcuts and plantations to service export markets, our province seems fated to burn increasingly out of control. This summer, when not monitoring the BC Wildfire Service’s dashboard and otherwise trying to keep cool, David has been watching the drying forest in his coastal backyard with growing alarm. FOI record: Fuel Treatment Efficacy Project Summary: Fuel Treatment Efficacy Project Summary FNR-2020-05652.pdf FOI record: Fire management costs external to ministry of forests: Fire management costs external to ministry of forests FNR-2021-10573.pdf
  9. 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.
  10. Yes, the log had been purchased (from an unknown seller) by Port Alberni's Acoustic Woods, mentioned in this story.
  11. 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.
  12. 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 or pellet mill and turned into short-lived products like newsprint, toilet paper, burnable pellets 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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:
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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
  24. 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.
  25. 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

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