Local children speak out against logging of pristine B.C. forest on remote West Coast island

Families and educators on Cortes Island are intent on saving a special section of forest from upcoming logging, hoping to buy the land with a Children’s Forest Trust.

Video by Daniel J. Pierce

Nature can be a profound source of knowledge, inspiration and enjoyment for people both young and old. And for residents of the coastal B.C. community of Cortes Island, acknowledging this fact has never been so important.

Cortes is in the midst of ongoing disputes over logging by Island Timberlands, a subsidiary of the international firm Brookfield Asset Management. While the company intends to log on several different privately owned properties, there are a few key pockets of IT’s land that youth on the island are particularly concerned about.

“We’re talking specifically about five parcels of forest land that are owned by Island Timberlands, which ring Carrington Lagoon in the heart of Cortes Island,” said Christine Robinson, a local resident and former teacher at the island’s Linnea School.

Robinson and her colleagues refer to these specified areas as the “Children’s Forest”, and they are the focus of a conservation initiative for the benefit of Cortes’ young people.

“It is our hope that [Island Timberlands] will hear the community speaking out in protection of these forest lands, and that they will allow us to seek purchasers out there and to purchase these lands from them,” Robinson explained, “so that the lands are actually owned here on Cortes, with the children of Cortes being the benefactors.”

Members of the community have started a trust fund in the name of the children, with the goal of obtaining the land from Island Timberlands. But any potential purchase would require several million dollars, so Cortes residents are getting to work now to get a fundraising campaign up and running.

According to Robinson, there are several reasons why the pockets of land included in the Children’s Forest were selected as a priority for purchasing. First, since they are located adjacent to the proposed Carrington Regional Park, these areas are seen as a natural extension to a region already designated for protection. The Children’s Forest is also especially important because of the plants and animals that reside within its boundaries.

“This is a traditional wolf and wildlife corridor,” Robinson said.

“If there was logging here it would completely disrupt that, and it would basically bisect Cortes.”

Thirteen-year-old Kiera Tsakonas explained what could happen if the area was clear-cut, forcing the wolves and other animals out of their territory.

“They’re going to want to move, and then they’re going to eat our dogs,” said Tsakonas, fearing for her family’s pets.

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