To a group of Cortes Islanders, coming together to oppose logging is a time-honoured tradition, one that they’ve dusted off again after hearing about Mosaic Forest Management’s plans to log a portion of the island in 2022, 2023 and 2024.
On April 20, around 100 people gathered at Manson’s Community Hall to respond to Mosaic’s plans to log on lands owned by the company. There are just over 1,000 hectares identified as harvestable in a draft map that was shared as part of the company’s three year plan back in January. The meeting was a celebration of the forests on Cortes Island held in response to those plans, and presenters spoke about the ecosystem on the island, particularly its rarity and the value it has in protecting the environment.
“The old growth on Cortes is virtually gone,” said presenter Bruce Ellingsen. “What’s left now is second growth and some parcels of third growth. Each harvest removes 50 per cent of the nutrients in the logs that go out from the forest.”
Ellingsen said that he was “seriously concerned about nutrient draw down throughout B.C.” and that the plans to harvest 6,000 to 8,000 cubic metres per year on 1,085 hectares was not sustainable.
Researcher Dan Tucker told the room about the diversity of the island, saying that “old growth forests… are the most bio-diverse ecosystems and we need to maintain these.
“If we don’t have high biodiversity, we’re at risk of losing our ecosystem stability,” Tucker said. “If we lose a species… we could lose the whole stability of the ecosystem.”
Of particular focus during the meeting was the scientific developments around how forests can slow climate change that have occurred since the last time logging was proposed on the island ten years ago. Islander Kai Harvey spoke about mother trees — the oldest trees in a given ecosystem that communicate with and help younger generations grow — saying that a number of these key trees are found in proposed logging sites.
“They are the nuclei of the forest, where genetic and climate information is held,” Harvey said.
Harvey was one of the younger presenters, but standing up for Cortes’ forests is a family affair. Later in the meeting, Kai’s mother Lovena Harvey spoke against the draft plans, saying that they “represent a business-as-usual approach.
“Meanwhile there is nothing usual about the climate catastrophe that is unfolding. Droughts are intensifying, oceans acidifying and floods are commonplace… the logging path we are still on is hanging over a dystopian mess to our future generations.”
One of the meeting organizers Cecil Robinson told the Mirror that Mosaic representatives did attend the meeting to listen.
“There were two people who said they would come, and they did, and it was great. They answered a few questions and mostly listened…They certainly have expressed the intention to listen to the community and their willingness to modify their plans and I wanted to acknowledge that.” he said, adding that if the plans were to move forward resembling “anything like what the draft plans initially suggested, they will not succeed. There’s too much opposition.”
Robinson also suggested that a solution would be that the community purchase the land from Mosaic, which was echoed by attendees of the meeting including Strathcona Regional District director Noba Anderson.
“Take it back into community control, let Mosaic take the funds and shareholders can go off and reinvest in something not so contentious,” Robinson said. “It’s the way that everybody can win.”
Mosaic will be holding its own open house on Cortes on May 17.