East Creek investigation finds clearcutting rare intact old-growth on Vancouver Island in compliance with laws, highlighting B.C. government failure to protect endangered rainforest
Investigation also finds company in non-compliance with making information public
March 30, 2017
The BC government’s Forest Practices Board (FPB) released its findings today regarding Sierra Club BC’s May 2016 complaint about Lemare Lake Logging Ltd. logging practices in the East Creek area. East Creek is located adjacent to the Mquqᵂin – Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park, in Kwakwaka’wakw territory and forms part of the largest remaining contiguous ancient rainforest on northern Vancouver Island.
Sierra Club BC visited East Creek in the fall of 2015 and documented the devastation of ancient rainforest, including the use of blasting charges, in an area known as important habitat for salmon, marbled murrelet and northern goshawk and important First Nations cultural values, leading to the complaint and investigation.
“The scope and scale of the ancient rainforest destruction in this incredible watershed is unimaginable. They were logging more than one Cathedral Grove in the last two years alone,” said Mark Worthing, Sierra Club BC’s Forests & Biodiversity Campaigner. “The liquidation of East Creek’s ancient rainforest is being permitted for government revenue in form of stumpage fees between $0.33 and $1.33 per cubic meter. This is a terribly short-sighted decision.”
The FPB investigation considered two questions: whether the licensee complied with the Forest Range Practices Act (FRPA) and the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan (VILUP) and whether the licensee provided the complainant with reasonable access to site plans (SPs). The Board concluded that the licensee complied with FRPA and VILUP while conducting its operations. On the second question, the Board concluded that the licensee did not provide the complainant with reasonable access to SPs “on request at any reasonable time” as required by FRPA.
“British Columbians have the right to know what’s happening in the forests around us, yet it took us six months to access the information the public is legally entitled to. This makes it impossible for the public to document ecological and cultural values that could be at risk as a result of proposed logging. We’ll be waiting to see what action the government takes to respond to this violation of FRPA,” said Worthing.
Sierra Club BC is very concerned but not surprised about the conclusion of the FPB that East Creek logging is in compliance with FRPA and VILUP. “The East Creek investigation confirms what we feared: while blasting roads and clearcutting approximately 1,000 hectares of the last intact old-growth rainforest on Northern Vancouver Island in the last 10 years is inconsistent with good forest management practices, it is consistent with BC’s Forest Range Practices Act and the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Forest and Climate Campaigner. “Provincial laws and the Vancouver Island land use plan are failing to protect forest integrity and we urgently need additional protection and improved forest management to safeguard the web of life as we know it.”
There is growing support for protecting the remaining endangered old-growth rainforest and shifting to sustainable second-growth forestry on Vancouver Island, including from municipalities, chambers of commerce and a number of First Nations and unions. Sierra Club BC warned in 2016 that a 12 percent increase in the annual old-growth logging rate on the island (recently at 9,000 hectares per year) will lead to an ecological and economic collapse.
The most productive types of rainforest ecosystems, with the biggest trees, unique habitat and tourism values are now in their single digits of remaining old-growth. At the same time second-growth forests are being clearcut at a young age, often at less than 60 or 80 years, allowing no recovery of old-growth characteristics across vast areas on Vancouver Island.
“The East Creek investigation shows everything that is wrong with rainforest conservation and management on Vancouver Island – BC’s forestry regulation has no consideration of how little intact rainforest is left on the island and there is no legal impediment to logging the last old-growth trees outside of protected areas.” said Wieting.
“The East Creek investigation makes clear that we have no regulatory framework to protect the last of the last remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest,” said Wieting. “Whoever forms the next government has their work cut out to prevent the unfolding ecological and economic catastrophe on the island. We need a moratorium to safeguard biodiversity hotspots as new protected areas and new conservation tools to set aside critical endangered rainforest stands and habitat aside across the landscape.”
A 2015 Sierra Club BC mapping analysis showed East Creek on the northern island and the Walbran on the southern island as the only two remaining largely intact unprotected landscapes, with a percentage of productive old-growth rainforest close to the threshold indicating low ecological risk (70%). These remaining intact areas are critical ecological stepstones between the Great Bear Rainforest, Clayoquot Sound and Pacific Rim National Park.
Solutions for healthy forests and healthy communities similar to those developed in the Great Bear Rainforest are needed along the entire B.C. coast, not just one part of it. East Creek and the Central Walbran are among the most important examples of intact, unprotected, productive coastal old-growth on Vancouver Island that need immediate action or will be lost forever.
Sierra Club BC supports sustainable, second growth harvesting and local, value-added processing that creates a higher number of jobs per cubic metre, such that we can sustain healthy forest-based communities and local forestry jobs into the future.
Further information on Lemare Lake’s East Creek logging operations:
Covert logging of old-growth on Vancouver Island must be stopped
Timeline of Sierra Club BC attempts to view Lemare Lake Logging’s site plans for its East Creek operations