Film focuses on Cortes Island logging dispute with Timberlands

A Vancouver filmmaker is following the ongoing story of how a community is trying to take on big corporate loggers

Ron Wolda stands beside an old-growth fir on Cortes Island. He was one of the many islanders interviewed in a new documentary which looks at the conflict with industrial loggers.

A Vancouver filmmaker has turned his camera onto the ongoing battle between Cortes Islanders who want sustainable logging and the corporate interests which intend to harvest private lands.

“This is not an anti-logging film,” states Daniel Pierce, during a phone interview from his Vancouver office.

It was a year ago when the 27-year-old Simon Fraser film grad was hired as videographer to cover the story on Cortes for a Vancouver publication.

It was a story that captivated Pierce who kept returning with his camera to shoot more images of the forest, to interview the local people involved, and to document last November’s confrontation between Islanders and Island Timberlands.

“It’s an ongoing story and I plan to follow it,” he says.

The film, “Heartwood: Forest Guardians of Cortes Island,” follows a group of Islanders who have a common vision of healthy forests and thriving communities.

As one faction of the island launches a blockade against Island Timberlands, the Klahoose First Nation is joining the Cortes eco-forestry co-operative in the push to create a community forest on much of the island’s Crown land – almost 60 per cent of the island.

You can check out the trailer for the documentary online at As the film is ongoing, Pierce is posting series-like segments online and also asking for donations to help support the project.

“It’s crowd-funding, a new way to democratize financing,” he says.

One of the film’s subjects is Sabina Mense, a Cortes resident who’s fighting the corporate logging interests.

“(Pierce) has been very supportive and helpful,” she says. “These stories need to come out…and our government is divesting itself of all responsibility.”

As for the standoff in late November, Island Timberlands loggers left the island, says Mense, but promised to return to log “their land.” She says the two sides agreed to meet for further talks, but that never happened.

“Since then there’s been zero communication,” she says.

Mense adds there’s a group of residents who call themselves “Island Stance” and keep watch for the loggers’ return.

“A phenomenal group of watchdogs,” Mense calls them.