Weeks after ordering an end to a blockade there, the B.C. Supreme Court is now being asked to stop the logging at Collison Point / St’alaa Kun.
On May 28, the Council of the Haida Nation petitioned the court to stop Husby Forest Products from logging five cedar-leading cutblocks in the contentious area on the west side of Masset Inlet across from Kumdis Island.
Not only does the CHN allege that Husby is alone among Haida Gwaii forestry companies for logging cedar at five to seven times the sustainable rate, it says its monitoring crews have evidence Husby felled at least 99 monumental cedars that should have been protected under the Haida Gwaii land-use order.
“The cedar-leading forests of St’alaa Kun are the last major commercially available stands of cedar remaining on Haida Gwaii,” said a CHN affidavit presented to the court. If logged as planned, the affidavit warned, in less than 20 years Haida Gwaii will enter a decades-long period where no companies will have any cedar worth logging.
“It will place the Haida Nation in a position where it will, on the final resolution of its Title, inherit a forest of cedar stumps.”
None of the allegations against Husby has been proven in court.
The company was expected to file a response on Monday. Vice-president Rob Sandberg told the StarMetro Vancouver the company disagrees with a lot of the information provided by the CHN.
Outside the court proceedings, compliance and enforcement staff from B.C.’s forests ministry are now investigating the claims of illegally felled monumental cedars at Collison Point.
Cedar trees that have relatively clean faces and widths of 120 cm or greater at chest height are considered “monumental” under the Haida Gwaii land-use order, meaning they should be set aside for Haida cultural uses such as carving monumental poles or canoes.
When the cedars are between 110 and 120 cm at chest height, however, there are situations where they can be legally cut.
In its petition to the court, the CHN notes that seven months ago, B.C.’s Chief Forester recommended a ‘hard,’ legally enforceable limit on the rate of cedar harvesting on Haida Gwaii after a ‘soft’ limit recommended in 2012 went unheeded.
B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson has said that a hard limit is coming, and blamed the delay on the legacy of the BC Liberal government.
In its petition, the CHN stressed the urgency of the situation.
“There is every incentive to remove as much cedar as possible as quickly as possible.”
Beyond the particular allegations about illegally cut monumental cedars and over-harvesting, the CHN said it has long called for a more equitable dispute-resolution process at the B.C./CHN Solutions Table, where several of Husby’s logging permits for Collison Point and others have gone “non-consensus” in the last two years.
Under the current set-up, the final call on “non-consensus” issues goes to the provincial decision-maker.
“It is the CHN’s view that should BC continue to approve applications unilaterally, without putting in the good faith and challenging work needed to reach consensus, their collaborative decision making and relationship will end.”