To Darshan Sihota, CEO of Island Timberlands, and Steve Thomson, BC Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations:
We, the undersigned organizations, are greatly concerned about the rapid logging by Island Timberlands of McLaughlin Ridge near Port Alberni. We urge both the BC government and Island Timberlands to ensure that this critical area and the remaining old growth forests on Vancouver Island in similar situations are not logged.
A few hundred hectares of extremely endangered old-growth forests still stand – for now – on McLaughlin Ridge. This includes major stands of ancient Douglas-fir trees, the overwhelming majority of which have been logged on BC’s coast. McLaughlin Ridge has been recognized by the provincial government’s own biologists as one of the most important habitats for the red-listed or endangered Queen Charlotte Goshawk and as one of the finest ungulate wintering ranges on Vancouver Island.
McLaughlin Ridge is part of 78,000 hectares of land that were removed from Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 44 on Vancouver Island in 2004, thereby removing the environmental policies and/or regulations designed to protect species at risk, old-growth forests, ungulate winter ranges, and riparian areas; to control the rate of cut; and that prohibited raw log exports in order to protect local mills.
McLaughlin Ridge was supposed to be protected by the provincial government as an Ungulate Winter Range (UWR) and Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA), until the province’s plans changed when it removed the lands from Tree Farm Licence 44. The removal of the lands from TFL 44 included the stipulation from the BC government that a follow-up agreement be developed between the company and the government to ensure the protection of McLaughlin Ridge and other intended UWR’s and WHA’s – however, both parties failed to pursue the agreement, and the lands are now being logged. This confirms the basis of the tremendous public opposition to the removal of these lands from the TFL, as our worst fears regarding this major policy shift are now being realized.
In total, about 2400 hectares of endangered old-growth forests originally intended for protection by the BC government as Ungulate Winter Ranges and Wildlife Habitat Areas in TFL 44 are now endangered. These lands also include Horne Mountain above the world-famous Cathedral Grove, the Cameron Valley Firebreak, Katlum Creek, and other areas – about two-thirds of which are estimated to have now been logged. Much of McLaughlin Ridge could be logged within a few short weeks at the current pace of falling.
Time is short, and we are asking that Island Timberlands and the BC government show leadership to prevent the escalation and widening of the conflict over the company’s logging operations.
We are asking that:
- Island Timberlands immediately cease and desist from logging McLaughlin Ridge and other such critically endangered old-growth forests, including those formerly intended for protection by the provincial government in TFL 44.
- The provincial government take responsibility and show leadership by working towards a conservation solution for these lands. The Ministry of FLNRO must follow through on the stipulation it made regarding the conservation of these known wildlife habitats when it was announced these lands would be removed from the Tree Farm Licence in 2004.
- Port Alberni Watershed-Forest Alliance
- Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA)
- Alberni Environmental Coalition
- Arrowsmith Parks and Land-use Council
- Council of Canadians – Port Alberni branch
- Canadian Parks And Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
- Friends of Clayoquot Sound
- Greenpeace Canada
- Island Stance
- Pulp, Paper, and Woodworkers of Canada (PPWC) union
- Save the Day
- Sierra Club BC
- Valhalla Wilderness Society
- Wilderness Committee