Rainforest Solutions Project

Promoting conservation and economic alternatives in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest


Environmentalists call on TimberWest to suspend logging in Great Bear Rainforest

May 21, 2015

Environmental groups Thursday accused TimberWest of ramping up its logging in the Great Bear Rainforest in advance of an agreement on ecosystem-based management.

The groups are asking the company to freeze its logging operations in the region until planning is complete and are urging the B.C. government to ensure no new cutting permits are approved until new stricter logging regulations — under negotiation between the province and First Nations — are in place.

Greenpeace, ForestEthics Solutions and Sierra Club BC argue that TimberWest has significantly increased the rate of logging in the area since 2009, cutting more than 4,400 hectares of rainforest — equivalent to 11 times the area of Stanley Park. About one-third of the Great Bear is protected in parks and conservancies.

Final implementation of the new agreement, Ecosystem-Based Management in the Great Bear, was due by March 31, 2014, but has been delayed.

Jens Wieting, forest and climate campaigner for Sierra Club BC, said TimberWest is increasing its logging before tougher standards come into effect and urged the company to follow the “spirit and intent” of multi-stakeholder efforts to implement sustainable forest plans for the Great Bear.

Domenico Iannidinardo, vice-president of sustainability and chief forester for TimberWest, countered that the company is logging legally and that other factors have resulted in an increase in harvesting within the Great Bear portion of Tree Farm License No. 47 in recent years.

The company did not log at all in the Great Bear portion in 2008, he noted, and voluntarily suspended logging for two years elsewhere in the TFL in 2013-14 to allow for construction of a First Nation run-of-river project on northern Vancouver Island.

TimberWest logged 248,188 cubic metres within the Great Bear portion in 2009, increasing to 778,580 in 2011.

The province established an annual average harvest of 365,000 cubic metres per year for the Great Bear portion in 2014, when the company logged 614,412 cubic metres. Logging occurs over five-year periods, meaning that the cut will now have to be lowered in the Great Bear in future years.

Iannidinardo noted that a Forest Practices Board audit report for TFL 47 released in 2015 determined that “planning and field activities undertaken by TimberWest complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.”

TimberWest says its public tenures cover less than two per cent of the Great Bear Rainforest’s 64,000 square kilometres of land and fresh water.

Greenpeace deployed a large banner on its ship Esperanza near Sonora Island in the southernmost part of the Great Bear Rainforest where the company operates.

Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said in a written statement that TimberWest is “complying with the legal requirements currently in place” and that new land-use orders should be released for public review and comment within the next month.

“The province remains committed to working with all parties to reach final achievement of implementation of ecosystem based management in the Great Bear Rainforest.”

Dallas Smith is president of the Nanwakolas Council, which speaks for 10 Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations on resource issues, mostly from northern Vancouver Island.

He said his people have started talks with TimberWest “but are quite concerned about their practices while we try work with government to implement more sustainable measures for development in our traditional territories.”

TimberWest describes itself as Western Canada’s largest private timberland company with 325,000 hectares on Vancouver Island, along with Crown harvest rights to 700,000 cubic metres per year. The company is owned by two pension funds, B.C. Investment Management Corporation and Public Sector Pension Investment Board.