British Columbia

Huu-ay-aht Nation protests UBCM's ban on old-growth logging

Huu-ay-aht First Nation chief says UBCM's proposal to ban old-growth logging violates their right to self-government.

First Nation's chief says UBCM's proposal to ban old-growth logging violates self-government

A UBCM proposal to ban old-growth logging in the province has not been welcomed by the Huu-ay-aht First Nation near Port Alberni. (Cowichan Green Community/Facebook)

A Vancouver Island First Nation is at odds with a proposed ban on logging old-growth forests.

Huu-ay-aht Nation chief-councillor Robert Dennis says a resolution made by the Union of B.C. Municipalities to abolish old growth logging in the province was done without their consultation and therefore tramples on their land rights.

"It's interfering with our rights to manage our land and our territories in accordance with our traditional practices," said Dennis on CBC's All Points West.

"That's not to say that we object to the resolution — we object with how it was done," he said.

The Huu-ay-aht Nation is based out of Pachina Bay near Port Alberni, B.C. The First Nation holds two logging licences in the region, which encase some of Vancouver Island's oldest growing forests.

A dog walker next to a Grand Fir tree, (left), at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich, B.C. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

Dennis says logging old growth trees isn't out of the question — but it would only be done with support from the First Nation.

"In our case, if our hereditary chiefs decide that they want to harvest some old growth cedar for our own needs, we'll honour and respect that," he said.

"But the decision to harvest or to not harvest our own growth, that remains the decision of our hereditary chiefs and our elected leaders."

Logging old growth forests has been a contentious issue in British Columbia.

Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club of B.C. and the Ancient Forest Alliance, have lobbied against cutting down the trees — some of which have stood for 600 years.

But Dennis says any logging done by the Huu-ay-aht abides by their traditional standards, which put an emphasis on sustainability and maintaining ecological diversity.

"Environmental groups tend to interfere without meaningful consultation with First Nations," he said.

According to the Huu-ay-aht Nation, their timber company — HFN Forestry Limited Partnership — is the largest of all Huu-ay-aht businesses and employs a team of thirteen people.

With files from CBC's All Points West

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Huu-ay-aht First Nation say UBCM's proposed ban on old-growth logging violates their rights