British Columbia

Investigation finds biodiversity of old growth forests at risk in Port Alberni

An investigation into B.C. Timber Sales’ logging plans in the Nahmint Valley in Port Alberni found they failed to comply with laws protecting old growth forest and biodiversity values in some ecosystems.

Conservationists are calling for action from government to protect old growth trees

Conservationists with the Ancient Forest Alliance say old-growth forests like this one are crucial to the overall health of ecosystems. (Submitted by TJ Watt)

An investigation into B.C Timber Sales' logging plans in the Nahmint Valley in Port Alberni found they failed to comply with laws protecting old growth forests and biodiversity values in some ecosystems.

According to the report released Wednesday by The Forest Practices Board, the investigation found that B.C. Timber Sales' (BCTS) 2017 Forest Stewardship Plan for the Nahmint Valley failed to comply with legal biodiversity objectives set under Vancouver Island's Land Use Plan

"BCTS's FSP (forest stewardship plan) did not meet the legal objective, and it should not have been approved. We looked at the remaining forest in the watershed and found there are some ecosystems that could be at risk if more logging takes place in them," said Kevin Kriese, the chair of the Forest Practices Board.

The report comes three years after the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA), together with members of the Port Alberni Watershed Forest Alliance, exposed the clearcutting of some of Canada's grandest remaining old-growth forests and biggest trees in the Nahmint Valley. 

Timber in the Nahmint Valley after the trees were logged. (Submitted by TJ Watt)

The discovery prompted the AFA to submit a complaint to the board in 2018, as well as the Ministry of Forests' compliance and enforcement branch.

Conservationists call for action

Conservationists with the AFA say old-growth forests like the one in the Nahmint Valley are crucial to the overall health of ecosystems in the province, affecting everything from the raindrops that collect in the tree canopy to the water that runs in salmon streams below.

 "This failure exposes the gross inadequacies and lack of accountability that are inherent in B.C.'s forest system and the need for immediate, systemic change." stated Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness.

A before and after photo of a Douglas Fir in the Nahmint Valley. (Submitted by TJ Watt)

AFA campaigner, TJ Watt, is calling for change.

"BC's deeply flawed forest system allows forest companies and BCTS to protect the lowest possible amount of productive old-growth forests while always targeting the very best stands for logging," Watt said.

Brenda Sayers of the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni is also urging the province and B.C. Timber Sales to end the logging of old-growth in the Nahmint.

"The Nahmint Valley is not only beautiful, its ancient forests and biodiversity are critical to our people's culture, our identity. Yet, the B.C. government is sanctioning the destruction of these ecosystems through its own logging agency, which have shown themselves to be incapable of responsibly managing our sacred lands."

The province has yet to comment on the report.