Land & Forests

Posted on September 16, 2015

Mining in Clayoquot SoundBefore the dust had even settled on Mount Polley, mine owner Imperial Metals was active again in Clayoquot Sound. This finding was announced in Who’s Knocking?, a report on mineral tenures in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The report, released by Clayoquot Action in partnership with Fair Mining Collaborative, details who is looking for minerals in Clayoquot Sound, and what types of minerals they are looking for.

Posted on July 08, 2015

Traditionally, bogs have been seen as worthless, ugly pieces of land, holding little or no intrinsic value. Indeed, the phrase “bog standard” is used to denote anything that is basic, ordinary, unexceptional, or uninspiring. Bogs have such a serious image problem that, in Ireland and Scotland, the word bog has long been a slang term for toilet. “Going to the bog” is synonymous with “going to the bathroom.”

Posted on June 10, 2015

North America has been in the grip of a weird weather pattern that keeps a high atmospheric pressure system locked in place over the Pacific. This blocking ridge of atmospheric pressure disrupts wind patterns and prevents rainstorms from reaching California, while sending warm, dry air up the West Coast and re-routing the rainstorms farther to the north.

Posted on March 06, 2015

Students Missing in MexicoPrime Minister Harper’s decision to indefinitely postpone the North American Leaders’ Summit – better known as the annual “Three Amigos” meeting – likely has a lot to do with his own electoral calculus. But it also does Mexican President Peña Nieto a huge favour.

Posted on February 02, 2015

The failure of the Mt Polley tailings facility vindicated Karl Terzaghi and Ralph B. Peck, the two great engineers who founded the science and art of geotechnical engineering.  They always warned that the undetected geological feature, stratum, or layer was the cause of failure.  This is exactly what happened at the part of the embankment that failed at the Mt Polley mine—the original site investigation failed to identify or characterize a layer of glaciofluvial clay.  Subsequent work failed to establish correctly the strength of the layer.  And that layer failed when the load from the embankment exceeded the strength of the clay.

Posted on November 05, 2014

An obscure tribunal housed at the World Bank in Washington, DC will decide the fate of millions of people.
At issue is whether a government should be punished for refusing to let a foreign mine operate because it wants to protect its main source of water.

The case pits El Salvador’s government against a Canadian gold-mining company, that recently became part of a larger Australian-based corporation. When OceanaGold bought Pacific Rim last year, it identified the Salvadoran mining prospects as a key asset, although gold prices have sunk by more than a third from their 2011 high of more than $1,900 an ounce.

The case’s implications are chilling. If the company wins, this small country will have to either let the company mine or pay hundreds of millions of dollars.
This summer, we returned to northern El Salvador. That’s where the Pacific Rim mining company started to dig its exploration wells about a decade ago.
Near that disputed mining site, local resident Vidalina Morales explained how she and others came to oppose mining: “At first, we thought mining was going to help us out of poverty through jobs.”

Posted on October 16, 2014

No Oilsands

On August 4th the tailings impoundment at the Mount Polley mine failed, releasing 25 million cubic metres of mine waste and construction material into the watersheds below. Some of the waste backed up into Polley Lake, most of it was dumped into the 10km Hazeltine Creek watershed and some spread downstream into Quesnel Lake.

Posted on May 29, 2014

 British Columbia is a land of extremes, blessed by the clash of successive unstable terrains that have shaped its geography and its flora and fauna.Even the human fauna is shaped by it to extremes of political polarization. British Columbia takes some pride in being home to some of the nation’s wackiest, most extreme and incomprehensible politics. That probably explains a lot about the actual lamentable state of the environment belying BC’s spectacular landscapes.

Posted on May 28, 2014

Book: The New B.C. Roadside Naturalist - A Guide to Nature alond B.C. Highways. Written by Richard and Sydney CanningsCuriosity. It’s what makes cats more fun and interesting. That’s what this guidebook does for curious people – makes travelling around BC and the Yukon a lot more fun and interesting.

Posted on April 17, 2014

The Riparian Area Regulation isn’t a regulation, because it doesn’t regulate. It facilitates environmental destruction by developers because it has no penalties. It contains no provision for cancelling a project, so any proposal can theoretically go ahead, even if badly planned.

Posted on April 09, 2014

April 9, 2014 Washington, DC--Scientists and environmentalists today condemned a recent press release by researchers at the University of British Columbia announcing they have created genetically engineered (GE) poplar trees for paper and biofuel production, opening the prospect of growing these GE trees like an agricultural crop in the future. [1] 

Posted on March 31, 2014


94% of BC is "public" or "Crown" land. Commons BC advocates for intelligent, data-driven, democratic stewardship of that land, as well as of BC's public interests, common resources, and shared economy and environment. To aid in this project we produce visual graphics based on publicly available BC data. When thinking about "Crown" lands, please note that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that First Nations Title co-exists with Crown Title.
Posted on March 12, 2014

EU Parliament resolution calls for Arctic sanctuary around North Pole

12 March 2014 (Toronto) – The European Parliament today passed a resolution calling for a protected area around the North Pole which could ban oil companies and industrial fishing fleets from the region. The text echoes the demands of the international Save The Arctic campaign which has attracted the support of over five million people including Sir Paul McCartney and renowned US oceanographer Sylvia Earle.

Posted on February 20, 2014

Forestwatch is a listserve with over 100 members that has been active in one form or another since the late 1990s. Typical postings include news items about BC forest issues, press releases and occasional local observations or viewpoints.

Posted on September 04, 2013

About one-fifth of the world’s ancient forests remain intact. The forests have protectors and champions, but Earth still loses ancient forest every year to human enterprise, and now, to the new human-mediated climate.

Half of Earth’s forests – the once great forests that stood on Earth ten thousand years ago, at the dawn of human agriculture and empire – are entirely gone. However, that measure accounts only for land area – approximately six billion hectares of forest reduced to three billion. Most of the remaining forests survive only as tree

Posted on September 04, 2013

by Joyce Nelson

“Resolute Forest Products seems to be using the courts to try to settle [forestry] issues,” says Richard Brooks, Greenpeace Canada’s Forest Campaign Coordinator, “and that’s not the proper use of the courts.” Brooks is one of the activists named in the $7 million defamation lawsuit filed on May 23, 2013 by Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace Canada for its recent

Posted on September 04, 2013

Preserving Mexico's Forestby Dawn Paley
Photo Credit: Jonathon Treat

In October of 2007, the people of Capulalpan De Mendez, Oaxaca blocked a main highway to Oaxaca City, the state’s capital, to protest a Canadian mining company in their forested territory. Inspired by uprisings in the city the previous year, they stayed at the blockade for almost an entire workday. Protesters didn’t leave until government representatives signed off on an order to shut the Canadian company down, which they did. Since that day, mining activity has ceased in the Indigenous Zapotec community nestled among giant Ahuehuete, pine, and oak trees in a

Posted on October 17, 2012

There's a lot going on in Nuu-chah-nulth territory.

by Maggie Paquet

The Nuu-chah- nulth have occupied the west coast of Vancouver Island for many thousands of years, where they have lived self-sufficiently according to the principle of Hishukistsawalk: everything is one.

Posted on October 17, 2012

Have we reached the turning point, or just discovered another twist in the bottom line?

by Maggie Paquet

On June 10, 1998, one of Canada's largest logging companies announced it will embark on a forest stewardship strategy focusing on old-growth and habitat conservation. Company president Tom Stephens said, "For MacMillan Bloedel (MB), today marks the beginning of the end of clearcutting and a recognition of non-timber values in our old-growth forests." Error! Filename not specified.

Posted on October 17, 2012

"Our elders and chiefs said if we tell the truth, the truth will prevail." Satsan (Herb George), speaking after the McEachern decision.

by Ian Lordon

"I think our only option now is court." Those are the words of Ron Brown Jr., president of the Council of the Haida Nation.

Posted on October 15, 2012

Critics of the government's closed-door deal say MacBlo
should have been compensated in cash, not land.

The BC government has agreed to hand over thousands of hectares of Crown land to forest giant MacMillan Bloedel, in a precedent-setting deal that will exempt the land from environmental protection.

Posted on October 15, 2012

Cortes Island seeks a brighter future for its forests.

by Liza Morris

Cortes Island stands on the brink of a revolution--or a higher stage of evolution--in its local forest practices.

Posted on October 15, 2012

BC takes first step towards privatizing Crown forests.

by Lisa Matthaus, Sierra Club of BC

The removal of more than 170,000 ha. of forest from public oversight severely restricts the opportunities for First Nations treaty settlements, community forests, the existing small business program and other needed community transition strategies.

Posted on October 15, 2012

Residents continue to defend their watersheds and promote sustainable forestry.

by Kathy Loxam

Summer of 1999 finds Slocan Val ley residents facing the perils of ongoing logging and road building in many of their consumptive use watersheds and the threat of new logging activities in at least five more. Despite this threat, residents are gearing up for FLOW 99, a major conference in August which will bring together experts and activists from around BC and the US Pacific Northwest.

Posted on October 14, 2012

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a broadly-supported international body that accredits and monitors certifiers. The FSC does not conduct certifications, but rather grants certification bodies, like Silva Forest Foundation (SFF), the right to certify under the FSC logo.

Posted on October 14, 2012

Non-profit conservancies can work with land holders to protect critical areas.

by Sheila Harrington

Land trusts are non-profit, often charitable, conservancies that work with land holders to protect areas that are critical to the health and survival of threatened animals, plants, and wetlands, as well as areas of cultural or historical significance.

Posted on October 13, 2012

In spite of a "Summer of Discontent" in 1999, the inescapable feeling is that the battle to protect wilderness from clearcutting has just begun.

by J. Cates

The Upper Elaho Valley is one of British Columbia's few remaining pristine wilderness areas. Three hours north of Vancouver, in what the government's tourist brochures call Sea to Sky country, this area is host to hundreds of 1,300-year-old Douglas fir trees and is the southern most coastal habitat of grizzly bears. The area is within the proposed Stoltmann National Park Reserve, as well as Squamish and Lil'Wat First Nation territories.

Posted on October 13, 2012

Insects are as much a part of the forest as the trees, but they don't get no respect.

by Paula Rodriguez de la Vega

The real reason that clear cutting is prescribed for beetle salvage logging is purely economic. If beetle-killed pine is not harvested, the timber company does not get access to cheap timber (stumpage is roughly one-third of the usual), and the Annual Allowable Cut for the forest area will be lowered.

Posted on October 10, 2012

Opposition to biodiversity protection measures has been aggressive and on-going.

by Jim Cooperman

On Sept. 28, Jim Cooperman (former BC Environmental Network [BCEN] forest caucus coordinator and BC Environmental Report editor), was invited to address the Association of British Columbia Professional Foresters' (ABCPF) executive council about ongoing issues regarding forestry in British Columbia. This is a summary of the talk.

Posted on October 03, 2012

After several inquiries, a document was produced so wood buyers would know what forests they can buy products from, and which ones are off-limits; "Endangered Forests: Priority High Conservation Value Forests For Protection, Guidance For Corporate Commitments" - usually known as "Wye River."

by Candace Batyki

In 1999 Home Depot, the world's largest Do-It-Yourself store, pledged:

"By the end of 2002, we will eliminate from our stores wood from endangered areas -- including certain lauan, redwood and cedar products -- and give preference to 'certified' wood."

Forest activists rejoiced. Dozens of organizations large and small had campaigned to force Home Depot to change its purchasing policies.

Posted on September 21, 2012

It seems that much of humanity has very little in­terest in any recovery or concern for future generations.

by Don Malcolm

To many people on planet Earth, it must be apparent that we are hell-bent on using up or consuming

Posted on September 21, 2012

by Delores Broten

The BC civil service remains in major chaos, issuing flow chart after flow chart, as it tries to figure out the structural changes imposed by the new Ministry of Natural Resources Operations (MNRO). The new super ministry was a surprise creation of lame-duck premier Gordon Camp­bell and some senior bureaucrats, an­nounced in October with no public consultation.

Posted on September 15, 2012

The Preamble defined the multi-uses for the public forests. It's gone.

In November, the BC Liberals passed Bill 74, the Forest and Range Practices Act. The new and controversial self-regulation legislation, which becomes law in the Spring of 2003, will replace the 1994 Forest Practices Code Act, and makes significant changes.

Posted on September 14, 2012

Research at Carnation Creek has improved our society's understanding of ecological, biological and physical processes in Pacific Northwest watersheds.

by Wendy Kotilla

Nestled in the Southeast corner of Barkley Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Carnation Creek is a small watershed with a unique and diverse history. The rugged terrain of the 12 square kilometre watershed was shaped by the last period of glaciation in the Pacific Northwest.

Posted on September 09, 2012

Will the wildlife-rich region of Fraser Valley, BC become just another paved-over, smog-infested, gridlocked hellhole for the benefit of the few rich and famous?

by Joe Foy

The hawk wheeled around the big cottonwood looking for a place to land – all the while a gang of smaller birds and crows tried to bully it out of the neighbourhood by making an awful racket and dive-bomb­ing its tail feathers.

But she gave them no notice and landed on one of the

Posted on September 01, 2012

Private power companies stake hundreds of streams and rivers across the province, causing destruction of forests and endangering species.

by Joe Foy

In late April a friend and I drove up to the Lillooet Valley, north of Harrison Lake. This is the territory of the St’at’imc (pronounced Stat lee um) First Nation.

On the way we camped for the night beside Lizzie

Posted on August 31, 2012

Back in the 1880s, there would have been about 500 pairs of spotted owls in the local forests. Now there are six.

by Joe Foy

Southwest mainland BC is home to over two million people. You’d think that with all the people who live here, quiet wild places would be hard to find.

Posted on August 29, 2012

As thousands of BC and Alberta residents have become environmental refugees due to forest fires, a biologist argues that these fires are the result of management for timber and cows instead of for forest diversity.

by Brian L. Horejsi

As the Lost Creek fire darkens the skies of southwest Alberta and the wind washes the land with an air of power and wildness, it’s not easy to realize that the origins of this fire go back over half a century. Back to the 1930’s when the provincial government began co-management with the Federal government of what was then the Rocky Mountain Forest Reserve. 

Posted on August 24, 2012

With the largest intact forest ecosystem left on Earth, Canada’s boreal region contains one-quarter of the world’s remaining original forests. In December a coalition of four environmental organizations, three pulp companies, three First Nations, and one oil and gas company announced their shared goal for a Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI). 

The goal is a network of protected areas encompassing 50% of the 530 million hectares of “boreal region,” which includes the Boreal Forest, the Aspen Parkland and the Taiga.

Posted on August 24, 2012

Gravel, peat and fi rewood are extracted from wetlands, water is drained and wetlands are paved over. Then one day the light goes on and people begin to recognize how all the parts of the watershed are connected.

by Lisa Mose

When human use and the ecological condition of water- sheds are assessed, the community considers the functions of wetlands, usually for the fi rst time. Richard Case, a Regis- tered Professional Biologist, and Sue Hemphill of the Scout Island Nature Center and an environmental educator in the Cariboo, both 2003 Wetlands Institute participants, found this to be the case in the San Jose watershed, near Williams Lake, BC. In an assessment Case conducted in the Williams Lake River valley (the urban part of the San Jose

Posted on August 23, 2012

The AGM was held at Weyerhaeuser Centcom on their massive sprawling complex 25 miles south of Seattle. Weyerhaeuser Way winds through acres of 2ndgrowth forests of fir and cottonwood and leads right to their Corporate Headquarters building next to a large duck-pond with expansive landscaped, manicured golfcourse style gardens.

Posted on August 23, 2012

by Andrew Harrison

The Tanami track is a rough, corrugated ‘bush highway’ that cuts across the Central Australian desert from Alice Springs northwest to Halls Creek in the Kimberley. While an important artery serving Aboriginal communities and mining operations, this route traverses one of the more remote and unforgiving regions of the country, offering few amenities to the uninitiated traveler. From my home in Alice Springs it was a 650 kilometre drive up the Tanami before reaching the turnoff to Lajamanu, the Warlpiri Aboriginal community where I worked, a further 230 km north. 

Employed by the Central Land Council’s Land Management Unit last year, I gained a unique glimpse

Posted on August 22, 2012

As Guatemala slowly recovers from one of the most repressive periods in its history, tourism is becoming an important and growing part of its economy.

by Jim Cooperman

We have chosen November as our month to travel, in part to escape the pre-skiing and post-gardening blahs

Posted on August 21, 2012

Costa Rica has so much to offer travellers who ap­preciate nature and enjoy adventure sports. It is refreshing to visit a country where a growing part of the economy is based on nature conservation instead of resource extrac­tion.

by Jim Cooperman

The mysteries of the Mayan people have always

Posted on August 21, 2012

Government has merely re-spun old ecoannouncements. Don't get fooled by spinners.

by Joe Foy

I turned fifty not long ago. I guess a couple of side effects of that is - one – I think about the past more and - two – I’m more grumpy. I’m especially grumpy around things or people that mess with nature.  

I suppose my road to grumpiness began a long time ago whilst hanging out under a bridge, beside a

Posted on August 21, 2012

by James Hickling

World-famous Wreck Beach, located in Pacific Spirit Park on the tip of Point Grey in Vancouver, is now threatened by a controversial plan to develop residential housing at the University of British Columbia campus. 

Recognized as a clothing-optional beach since the 1920s, Wreck Beach is renowned for its wilderness- like setting, pristine viewscapes and unique social culture. Steep cliffs and huge old-growth trees shelter the shore from urban pressures, making the beach a refuge for all kinds of marine and avian wildlife, as well as for people of all shapes and

Posted on August 21, 2012

by Islands Spirit Rising

Major logging on Haida Gwaii ground to a halt on March 22, 2005. Checkpoints were raised as islanders stopped the traffi c. What happened? What did it take to push the people of Haida Gwaii over the edge? This is not really like us. We’re generally pretty laid back up here, content to live our lives and enjoy this amazing place. 

Well, it takes years and years, decades really, filled with legal challenges, broken promises, political whitewashes and dubious delaying tactics to get Haida and other Islanders alike, to come together and say loudly — “Enough is enough!” To stand up and say again to the provincial government and industry that this is no way to treat the land or the people of these Islands.

Posted on August 17, 2012

by Don Malcolm

Most British Columbians, if asked to list the most important legislation to come out of Dave Barrett’s term as premier, would likely choose the formation of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in 1974. Up to the 1970s, BC was losing approximately 6,000 hectares a year of farmland to urban development. The ALR set aside roughly 5% of the province to be reserved for agricultural activity. This precedent setting and far reaching legislation will more

Posted on August 17, 2012

by Maggie Paquet

The Stikine watershed in BC’s northwest region is Tahltan Country. It encompasses some of the most incredible wilderness landscapes and wildlife populations on Earth. Those who have lived there for countless generations developed a culture, language, and way of life that have endured and sustained them, and which have equal potential to continue sustaining

Posted on August 11, 2012

In late 2005, the BC Ministry of Environment announced its intention to allow landspreading of pulp mill sludge with no requirement for permits and with minimal monitoring. The BC Code of Practise met great public concern and is now being reconsidered. Communities in Ontario have already been around that block over the sludge from paper recycling. Here is their story.

Posted on August 10, 2012

by Lucretia Schanfarber

Today, nearly 100 years since these memorable words were penned, the genetic sanctity and survival of our planet’s trees are at risk. Several countries around the world, including our own Canada, have embarked upon a biotechnological journey that may be leading us down the path of genetic devastation for our natural forests and trees. 

Concerns about genetically engineered foods and industrial crops continue. At the same time we must face the reality of another, potentially greater, threat to planetary biodiversity - genetically engineered (GE) trees. 

Posted on July 20, 2012

The Land Trust Alliance of British Columbia celebrates the conservationists who are such good neighbours to us all. We salute BCs Land Trusts which make it possible.  

Thousands of people across BC have left a legacy for future generations of protected places in or near their communities through support and participation with land trusts. Protecting natural areas is the best way of

Posted on June 20, 2012

by Jim Cooperman 

In 2008, groups from throughout the province supported the efforts by Shuswap residents and organizations to halt the proposed condo and RV development adjacent to the Adams River, home to a world famous sockeye salmon run. Although they successfully prevented re-zoning for the proposal, the developer went ahead and installed new infrastructure and began marketing RV lots. Plus, in spite of the regional district’s rejection of the plans for a huge marina, 75 large buoys were installed in the sensitive fresh water estuary that provides critical salmon nursery habitat. 

Posted on June 01, 2012

Environmental issues in mexicoby Dawn Paley

From my perch in front of a small coffee shop in the town of Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, I watched a steady flow of visitors walk from the bus station to the hotel district, in search of a place to lay down their heads – and their packs.

Posted on November 15, 2011

Maintaining Whole Systems on Earth's Crown: Ecosystem-Based Conservation Planning for the Boreal Forest, by Herb Hammond. Published by Silva Forest Foundation, Slocan Park, BC,; Distributed by New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC,;  402 pgs, soft cover, $49.95; ISBN 978-0-9734779-0-0

by Maggie Paquet 

There are so many important and interesting concepts in this book that a review limited to 650 words cannot do it justice.

Posted on March 08, 2011

by Delores Broten

The BC civil service remains in major chaos, issuing flow chart after flow chart, as it tries to figure out the structural changes imposed by the new Ministry of Natural Resources Operations (MNRO). The new super ministry was a surprise creation of lame-duck premier Gordon Campbell and some senior bureaucrats, announced in October with no public consultation.

Posted on September 07, 2010

by Delores Broten

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, billed in May by par­ticipants as "historic," appears to be constructed of a set of boxes within boxes. It is, says Aran O'Carroll of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Soci­ety (CPAWS), an agreement between some major environmental or­ganisations and most of the Ca­nadian

Posted on February 01, 2009

by Andrew MacLeod

Beating drums and wearing traditional black and red blankets, a large group of Kwakiutl protesters gathered one day in mid-February outside the British Columbia legislature in Victoria. They'd made the 500-kilometre trip from northern Vancouver Island, where their ancestors have lived for thousands of years, to show their outrage.

Two weeks earlier, the BC government had announced that Western Forest Products would be allowed to remove 28,283 hectares of private land from its Tree Farm Licenses (TFL) on Vancouver Island, a large part of which lies in traditional Kwakiutl territory.

Posted on January 04, 2009

by Norberto Rodriguez dela Vega

Something very special happened on September 29, 2008 when the people of Ecuador approved by referendum Rights for Nature in their Constitution. This is the first country in the world to grant inalienable rights to nature.

In Ecuador, Pachamama, Nature, is not an object, nor a commodity to exploit and abuse. Pachamama is madre tierra, Mother Earth; she has her own rights, the same as any other subject in their Constitution.

Posted on December 15, 2008

Scandal is not new to the private forest lands on Vancouver Island.

by Will Horter

Fortunes have been made – and are being made – by resource companies that benefit from sweetheart deals that privatize vast tracts of land in BC. A select few, with the right government connections, reap the benefits. The public, especially First Nations, pay the price. The BC government’s recent decision to privatize 28,000 hectares of forestlands previously in Western Forest Products (WFP) tree farm licences (TFL) is only the latest scandal in a sordid history that traces back to BC’s entry into the Canadian Confederation.