Logging activity escalates in the Central Walbran Valley: Teal Jones crews moving towards rare intact old-growth forest
November 12, 2015
VICTORIA – A long-simmering dispute over logging old-growth forests in the Walbran Valley on southwest Vancouver Island has begun to boil over this week.
Logging crews contracted by the Teal Jones Group have started to cut trees and build roads to the south of the Walbran River, and are moving closer to the rare intact groves of the Central Walbran Valley.
A camp was established in the Central Walbran in late September and has been inhabited since then by protesters not connected to the Wilderness Committee.
On Monday, members of the camp reported that they had set up a checkpoint and turned away a road building crew that was operating in the Walbran. Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee, travelled to the Valley the next morning and found that the road builders had been joined by two Teal Jones staff and an RCMP officer from the Lake Cowichan detachment.
“When we arrived, talks were underway between members of the camp and the RCMP,” Coste said.
“Earlier this year, when we learned Teal Jones was targeting the Central Walbran Valley we warned that this would happen unless the company backed off or the provincial government denied the logging permits.”
While the Wilderness Committee doesn’t organize or participate in civil disobedience, there is wide public recognition of the ecological importance of the Walbran, and independent citizens are now coming into to the Valley to protect it.
“We’re talking about some of the most spectacular groves of ancient trees in the world,” said Coste.
“This is an area a little larger than Vancouver’s Stanley Park – protecting it is an absolute no-brainer.”
Since May, the Wilderness Committee has called on the BC Minister of Forests to put a hold on logging in the Central Walbran Valley and engage with stakeholders on a solution to protect the intact old-growth forest in a way that works for ecosystems and local First Nations.
Despite several rallies outside the Ministry of Forests office, 6,500 letters and emails calling on the government to halt logging in the Central Walbran and multiple requests for an emergency meeting from the Wilderness Committee, the Minister of Forests has ignored the brewing conflict in the Valley.
“The Premier and the Minister of Forests have utterly failed to address this issue and they are completely responsible for what’s happening now,” said Coste.
“We advocate that the BC government step in to cool things off, then take steps to ensure that the Central Walbran’s ancient forests are protected forever.”
For Immediate Release - For more information, contact:
Torrance Coste | Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
For photos and map of the Walbran Valley, visit:
The Wilderness Committee is Canada's largest membership-based, citizen-funded wilderness preservation organization. We work for the preservation of Canadian and international wilderness through research and grassroots education. The Wilderness Committee works on the ground to achieve ecologically sustainable communities.