Island Timberlands logs old-growth forests near Port Alberni

Three old-growth Douglas-fir stumps stand in a row freshly cut by Island Timberlands on McLaughlin Ridge near Port Alberni. Photo by TJ Watt.

Conservationists expressed alarm over a logging company's logging of rare old-growth Douglas Fir trees near Port Alberni. Island Timberlands had reportedly logged a hundred-metre wide section of old-growth trees in the previously intact part of McLaughlin Ridge's forest. 

The Port Alberni Watershed-Forest Alliance and Ancient Forest Alliance have urged the BC government -- which deregulated the land in 2004 -- to work toward conservation of McLaughlin Ridge and other endangered old-growth forests jeopardized by Island Timberlands.

“This magnificent old growth forest is being reduced to stumps, logs and huge amounts of waste that will most likely end up in massive burn piles," said Port Alberni Watershed Forest Alliance coordinator Jane Morden.

Jane Morden takes a closer look at ancient Douglas-fir logs recently logged by Island Timberlands on McLaughlin Ridge near Port Alberni. Photo by TJ Watt.

"Anyone who sees this area now will never be able to imagine the centuries old forest that once stood here, nor will the forest ever grow back the same. It is a tragic loss for not only the wildlife that depended on it, but also for future generations...What’s going on right now is a first rate environmental emergency in this province.”

Logging by Island Timberlands was also at the centre of controversy on Cortes Island, where protesters tried to block loggers' access to the island's forests.

“By all measures, McLaughlin Ridge is of the highest conservation priority...McLaughlin Ridge was supposed to be protected as part of the agreement to remove the lands from the Tree Farm Licence in 2004, but the BC government and Island Timberlands dropped the ball on the subsequent negotiations," said TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner. “We need Island Timberlands to cease and desist immediately from their old-growth logging operations, and for the BC government to ensure a conservation solution for this endangered ancient forest.”

A few hundred hectares of endangered old growth forests and mature second-growth forests remain in the area, but activists worry they, too, may soon be cut down. McLaughlin Ridge has been recognized by the provincial government’s own biologists as one of the most important habitats for the red-listed Queen Charlotte Goshawk (an endangered bird of prey) and as one of the finest ungulate wintering ranges for coastal black-tailed deer on Vancouver Island.

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