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Forest History

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Traditional Forestry on
Vancouver Island

The rainforest on Mi’wer’la (Big Island) provided for people of the First Nations for thousands of years.

The forest along the shores of the Klaskish provided the Kwakwa-ki-wak with homes and an abundance of food and other resources. The remains of significant and prosperous civilizations are apparent and can be seen in the form of Ancient Village Sites. The beaches in front of these sites are thick with middens, with remains of hundreds of years of shellfish harvests and other refuse. Midden are protected by Federal law and are not to be disturbed.

Ancient Sitka Spruce after centuries of harvesting medicinal pitch

The forest surrounding these ancient village sites are filled with an abundance of Culturally Modified Trees. Living trees of several species which First Nations People transformed hundreds of years ago to access resources. Massive planks were split off living cedar leaving the trees to continue to grow with straight edges. Sitka spruce with huge doorways carved into their trunks so that pitch could be harvested. Cedar trees that have grown over bark strips used for weaving, Totem and Canoe trees, left behind because the wood was splitting, that continue to grow hundreds of years later creating extraordinary abstract forms that defy the imagination.

History of Logging in British Columbia

Boyce high up in the canopy overlooking modern logging

150 years of industrial logging has reduced Vancouver Island’s rainforest to 5% of its former size. Industrial logging in British Columbia started in 1869 when a steam engine mill was brought from England to Vancouver Island and set up at Port Alberni from to produce large beams known as cants to be shipped back to England where they would be further milled into ship building materials.


In the main gallery of the BC Legislative Building in the capital city of Victoria is the slogan ‘SPLENDOR SINE OCCASU’ from the Latin meaning ‘Splendour without limit’

British Columbia Government Forest Policy – In January 2004 the BC Liberal Government replaced the Forest Practices Code with the Results Based Code, moving away from government inspectors regulating logging companies on behalf of the taxpayer to policies which allowed multinational logging companies to monitor their own operations, reporting any environmental infractions to a much reduced Ministry of Forests.

Highest Standard of Logging in BC according to Forest Ministry

This area of publicly owned land in the Upper East Creek Valley of Klaskish Inlet is designated as a Special Management Zone, which requires the highest standards of logging in British Columbia. According to the BC Government this is regulated by the Ministry of Forests and complies with all current laws.

British Columbia Forest and Range Practices Act
“The Forest and Range Practices Act and its regulations govern the activities of forest and range licensees in B.C. The statute sets the requirements for planning, road building, logging, reforestation, and grazing. FRPA maintains high levels of protection for forest values including watersheds and wildlife habitat, and creates efficiencies for both government and industry through streamlined planning processes. FRPA encourages innovation by skilled resource professionals and holds industry responsible for outcomes. Combined with rigorous compliance and enforcement, the Act and regulations will contribute to high quality forest management and sustainable environmental values for future generations.” Quoted directly from BC Ministry of Forest and Range website: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/code/

Many BC mills have shut down due to Increased Log Exports

Logging Companies in British Columbia – The majority of logging companies working on Vancouver Island are owned by multi-national corporations who bank their profits off-shore to avoid provincial and federal taxes. They are owned by shareholders from around the world whose entire goal is profits at any cost and therefore local community values, drinking water supplies, First Nation’s claims, and environmental protection are not factors in their day-to-day operations in the rainforest. Liquidation is profitable. Much of the work force today is hired on a contract basis, meaning they have little protection for health, dental, retirement, or insurance. The BC government has increased the number of Raw Logs Exported from the country resulting in thousands of lost jobs.

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