By Roy L Hales
The struggle to save the Walbran valley’s ancient trees, in a intact Old Forest ecosystem, started in the 1980s. This led to the logging blockades and the provincial government setting a portion of this area in the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park. A Surrey based logging company recently applied to harvest eight cutblocks of the unprotected area and on last month the Ministry of Forests gave them permission to start in cutback 4424. Friends of Carmanah/Walbran responded by setting up a community witness camp. Yesterday, September 9, Teal Jones’ road building crews were turned away. Thus it is that war on the woods returns To the Walbran.
Teal Jones Road Crews Turned Away
In their press release, sent out this morning, Friends of Carmanah/Walbran said:
“After weeks of enduring inclement weather, with only rudimentary shelter, early morning clatter of industrial machinery, chainsaws, road-blasting and the repetitive buzzing of company helicopters circling low overhead their wilderness-based camp at Walbran river, Dave Cascagnette, Trevor Schinkel and Jennifer Whitehouse have initiated a stand that may very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in attracting more people to directly defend the forest.
“At the heart of a major public controversy is the approved logging of an area of steep hill country habitat of 500-800 year old trees, in the pristine Central Walbran ancient forest. The actions today, targeting logging activities outside the Central Walbran area, are a strong sign of the growing public opposition to the continued industrial destruction of this threatened rainforest watershed.
“Friends of Carmanah/Walbran confirmed that these actions are committed by a group of individuals acting on their own behalf in a focus area outside of their campaign to protect the wilderness north of the river from logging encroachment.”
A Conflict of Ideologies
In a previous interview, British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests said this first cutback, # 4424, is only 3.2 hectares and it will be heli-logged, not clearcut.
A spokesperson said the province is protecting over 30,300 hectares in old growth management areas in the South Island Natural Resource District.
Sierra Club BC responded with a study showing that only 3% of the landscape units they studied possess over 70% old-growth rainforest. One of the most important is the Walbran Valley and 40% of its’ old growth forest is outside of the protected area.
“Our analysis is crystal clear – there is no better opportunity left to protect intact rainforest on Vancouver Island. The B.C. government should revoke this cut permit, because once logged, old-growth is gone forever. Warmer temperatures and increased drought conditions brought on by climate change will deprive it of the conditions it needs,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC forest and climate campaigner.
The conflict appears to be between two very different ideologies.
Teal Jones and the current provincial government embrace the perspective that has led to the eradication of most of the ancient trees that once covered British Columbia. One has only to look a historical photos from a century ago, or visit one of the few remaining stands of ancient trees, to realize where this has led.
While Mainstream Canadian environmental groups like Sierra Club BC and Wilderness Committee do not participate in civil disobedience, they believe the Walbran Valley’s old growth ecosystem needs to be preserved.
Some of the local residents have found it necessary to take stronger actions.