Green groups blast plan to log old-growth forest on Flores Island
- Green groups blast plan to log old-growth forest on Flores Island
By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun
December 4, 2010
An aboriginal logging company is betraying an agreement that brought peace to Clayoquot Sound by planning to log old-growth forests on eastern Flores Island, environmental groups charge.
Joe Foy, campaign director for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC), said a memo of understanding in 1999 agreed that pristine areas of Clayoquot Sound would be protected and managed for their non-timber values while logging could occur in areas no longer intact.
"That's what created a peaceful and profitable condition in Clayoquot Sound. What we've learned in the past is that if you log in pristine areas you create unrest. People protest and it's hard for anyone to make money."
Foy said cutblocks have been recently marked out and helipads cleared on the eastern side of Flores Island, raising fears that Iisaak Forest Resources, a logging company owned by five Nuu-chah-nulth bands, might log as early as next year.
He added there has been some logging historically on the north side of Flores as well as around the village of Ahousaht, but not on the east side of Flores. "It has some of the highest timber volumes remaining in Clayoquot Sound -- and that means in Canada. Really amazing forests."
Greg Blanchette, Tofino office coordinator for Friends of Clayoquot Sound, said no one from Iisaak is letting them know what's going on. "They're not returning our calls. We used to have a pretty good relationship with them.
"The entire situation here in Clayoquot Sound is opaque, muddy. Everything has changed in the last few years because first nations are suddenly coming into their own as players on the territory they claim."
A meeting will be held Dec. 13 in Ahousaht, the native village on Flores, between band leaders and conservation groups, including WCWC, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, Greenpeace and Sierra Club. In the meantime, WCWC is urging its members and the public to write Steve Thomson, minister of natural resource operations, pressuring him not to issue any cutting permits for eastern Flores.
In Victoria, ministry spokesman David Currie said, "We understand Iisaak Forest Resources is in the process of planning forestry operations on Flores Island." He confirmed that Iisaak holds Tree Farm Licence 57 in the area, but that the government has not received a cutting permit request.
The Sun couldn't reach either Iisaak general manager Derek Drake nor Ahousaht Chief John Frank for a comment.
Foy said Iisaak's actions do not erode WCWC's position favouring protection of old-growth forests as well as greater aboriginal control over traditional territories.
Foy said this is the second attempt to violate the memo of understanding; a planned native joint venture with Coulson, a non-native forest company, in 2008 at Hesquiaht Point Creek did not proceed.
On its website, Iisaak describes itself as an "ecologically based" forest company that seeks to "reduce conflict" and respect "cultural, spiritual, recreational, economic and scenic values."
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