Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Freshly cut old growth forests are seen near Avartar Grove outside Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

A Vancouver Island company is preparing to log a chunk of old-growth forest near Port Alberni that was once protected as winter range for deer, according to conservation groups.

Island Timberlands, based in Nanaimo, recently began building a road into the area and is moving "full-throttle" to log the site, says the Victoria-based Ancient Forest Alliance.

The contested area, covering about 20 hectares, is about a one-hour drive from Port Alberni in an area some conservationists refer to as Juniper Ridge.

Story continues below advertisement

"It's not a big deal except when you're talking about the last of that type of area," Jane Morden, a spokeswoman for Watershed Forest Alliance, said Monday. The two groups are working together on conservation issues.

The area contains Douglas Fir, lichen-covered outcrops and juniper shrubs growing on thin soils that would take centuries to recover after logging. It is part of a group of sites that had previously been protected as a winter feeding range for species including deer and elk, Ms. Morden said.

Representatives from Island Timberlands did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Headquartered in Nanaimo, the privately held company controls about 254,000 hectares of forest lands, making it one of the major players in the industry on Vancouver Island.

The area now in question is part of a bigger patchwork of lands – about 2,400 hectares – that were protected as wildlife range until the province removed a total of 74,000 hectares from Tree Farm Licence 44 in 2004, Ms. Morden said.

A TFL is one way the B.C. government grants forestry operators rights to harvest timber on Crown land. Removing land from a TFL makes it subject to less onerous regulations and can free it up for sale or development.

A follow-up deal between the government and the former licence holder was supposed to extend protection for the 2,400 hectares that had been previously set aside but that agreement did not come about, Ms. Morden said. Since 2004, about 1,500 of the 2,400 protected hectares have been logged.

Conservation groups now want the government to buy or protect the 2,400 hectares, which are among lands now operated by Island Timberlands.

Story continues below advertisement

"The government removed the environmental protections on these lands – now they need to protect them," Ms. Morden said.

In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Forests said the province has "no plans to buy these private lands."

Wildlife management plans are part of certification standards implemented by Island Timberlands, the spokeswoman said, adding that there are about 10,000 hectares designated as winter feeding ranges on public forest land on southern Vancouver Island.

Watershed Forest Alliance and other conservation groups have proposed a $40-million-a-year, 10-year Parks Acquisition Fund, saying such a fund is needed to buy old-growth forests and other lands that are at risk of logging or development.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies