Island Timberlands Ignores Community

This press release from the Arrowsmith Parks and Land-Use Council outlines how Island Timberlands has ignored community protests against logging in sensitive areas and commenced clearcutting the buffer zone along Englishman River Falls Provincial Park:

Contrary to claims made by Minister Ron Cantelon in the Parksville Qualicum Beach News on Friday, February 20, 2009, that logging is complete at "the site", it was discovered yesterday (February 24) that Island Timberlands has simply moved from one sensitive area, an island in the channel of the Englishman River, to a location slightly downstream where they are now logging an untouched buffer zone left as a protective strip to shelter the forests of Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.

The Arrowsmith Parks and Land-Use Council demands that the clearcutting of this buffer strip be halted immediately. “This is a repeat of what Island Timberlands wants to do at Cathedral Grove,” said member Berni Pearce, who had a look at the site yesterday. “They are doing standard clearcutting and truck logging -- stripping away the wind buffer on the windward side of the park – without a care for local concern, without any notion of what good corporate citizenship looks like. We know what that did to our beloved Cathedral Grove -- it suffered extreme blowdown due to the removal of these buffer zones. These 500 plus year old trees have led a sheltered life but are now being exposed to the full force of wind and other elements for the very first time.”

grapple loader approaching Englishman River Park“When I was in the Park near the Park attendant's compound, I could see the logging machinery.” said Pearce, who then toured the logging site alone. “I found 55 old growth logs beside the grapple loader, waiting for pick-up. And it's only the start.”

Gary Murdock, another member of the Parks Council, reported that logging is continuing today (February 25). He found a line of blue ribbons tied to trees only 10 meters from the compound fence which encloses the Park attendant's dwelling. “I believe Island Timberlands is going to strip the old growth buffer right to the park boundary,” said Murdock. “Why has BC Parks failed to negotiate specific protection for the Park forest?”

“The Private Managed Forest Land Act has completely failed communities, and Minister Cantelon knows it,” said Pearce. “It's the only regulation limiting any action by Island Timberlands and it was designed to be weak and ineffective. It allows an offshore company like Island Timberlands, registered in Bermuda, to focus on a quick buck from any sensitive area with no thought for the future except for potential real estate development. Why else would they be allowed to log on an island in the channel of Parksville's water supply -- the Englishman River?”

Pearce also said that the Parks Council has received repeated citizen reports of continued heli-logging out of the Englishman. The Council is asking citizens in the area to report any logging activity they see anywhere in the region, on the ground or by helicopter, so that the Parks Council can investigate.

For more information, call Berni Pearce at 250-248-8464, Annette Tanner at 250-752-6585, or Gary Murdock at 250-248-3667. (Photo of the grapple loader at Englishman River by Gary Murdock.)

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