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Community Voices

Here you’ll find some thoughts on the Cortes forests from members of our wider community.

Please contribute your thoughts to at .  Stand up. Speak out.


Click here to view claymation films created by our island youth.
Click here to read letters of support.


Concerned Businesses– by Bill Dougan of Gorge Harbout Marina
16 local businesses express their concern for a sustainable economy on Cortes Island once the natural beauty of the forests is harvested.


Forests of Cortes – by Brigid Weiler
A local woman with two grown children speaks of her lifetime of experience in Cortes’ forests.


Seeing the Forest and the Trees – by Mario
Exploring misconceptions and subtleties within gray areas in regards to privately owned and community managed forestry.


LISTEN – Regional Director Noba Anderson and Biologist Sabina Leader Mense on Cortes Radio
Discussion of meeting with Island Timberlands, community imperatives, the Wildstands Alliance and ForestFest.


The Tourism / Forestry Interface – by Mike Moore
An article about the negative impacts of forestry on the the thriving tourism sector of the Discovery Islands.


A Tale of HypocrisyJedediah Duyf
An article by a local builder noting that logging on Cortes Island is not a black and white issue, that those opposed to industrial corporate logging are not necessarily against logging.


One Island, One Community, Care Takers of the Trees – by Kiyoshi Kosky
An article by a young man who grew up on the island in the 1990’s and stood with his community at the 1991 blockade.

Twenty Years Later (What I Have Learned) by Cortes Island resident Ron Croda.
An article looking back at the 1991 Cortes forest blockade.
Not A War Cry, A Life Cry by Cortes Island resident John Preston.
An article looking at the inter-connectivity of life and the courage to say “enough!”

Clear Cuts and Wolf Displacement by Cortes Island resident Hannu
An article questioning the fate of wolves when faced with clearcuts.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees
by Tzeporah Berman

“The last frontiers of the world are effectively gone. Species of plants and animals are disappearing a hundred or more times faster than before the coming of humanity, and as many as half may be gone by the end of this century. “
From “The Future of Life”, by Edward O. Wilson, 2002

Several years ago sitting in my little office in the old fish plant on Cortes a report came across my desk that literally took my breath away. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Reports by the United Nations is the result of four years of work involving over a thousand scientists. They are the first attempt in human history to evaluate (on a global scale) the range of services that people derive from nature. The reports conclude that two-thirds of the services provided by nature to human kind are in decline worldwide and that,

“Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of the Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”[1]

I was thinking about these reports the other day when I walked the new trails through the forests that Island Timberlands plans to clearcut log on Cortes. The reports go to great lengths to identify ‘ecosystem services’ and conclude that we need to begin to recognize the full value of nature in order to change the way that decisions are made and protect what sustains us. As I walked through the beautiful and complex forests in the heart of our island I thought about how we need to begin to see and value not only the wood, but the healthy ecosystems that contributions to the air we breathe, the water we drink and a stable climate.

The inventory of species being found on the lands Island Timberlands plans to log is extensive and reads like poetry: red tailed frog, coastal western hemlock, douglas fir, western red cedar, northern goshawk, arbutus, olive-sided fly catcher and more. Not surprising since 70% of Canada’s biodiversity lives here on the west coast. These species each play a role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Scientists estimate that there are 10 – 100 million species on the planet. While we now have names for approximately 2 million of these species, for the vast majority we have little idea how they function, how they interact or the roles that they individually and collectively play in maintaining the biosphere. We are in effect burning the library before we have ever read the books.

Globally we are beginning to see more discussion of valuation biodiversity and in fact of ‘natural capital’. We are now seeing monetary estimations of what clean water, biodiversity and carbon are ‘worth’ in economic terms. Perhaps in our society this is what it will take for us to ‘value’ the last of the wild. Here on Cortes it seems with the pending threat of a significant amount of logging we don’t have the luxury of time and abstract discussions.

In their recommendations to decision makers the Millennium Ecosystem Assessments conclude that, “Measures to conserve natural resources are more likely to succeed if local communities are given ownership of them, share the benefits, and are involved in decisions.” I applaud the individuals and groups on Cortes who are working to design and create local management and ownership options for our forests. I am imagining a day when multiple voices and a recognition of multiple services and benefits from the forests are taken into consideration when decisions are made.

In order to make that vision a reality there are difficult times ahead. Island Timberlands has flagged roads and logging through the heart of the island and while they claim to be ‘responsive to the community’ and ‘responsible stewards’ it seems to me that they are blatantly ignoring the opposition to their logging plans and being purposefully misleading with their claims of certification to ensure ecologically responsible logging. Don’t be fooled. The majority of their logging is traditional clearcut logging with devastating ecological implications that results in either a change of landuse or a dramatically weakened and simplified ecosystem. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) that island Timberlands touts does not ensure strong environmental standards and has little support from First Nations or environmental organizations. In fact last year we became so disgusted with SFI’s deception that ForestEthics (an organization I co-founded and worked with for a decade) filed complaints with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service about SFI’s greenwashing claims and the legitimacy of SFI’s tax status as a public charity.

Too many forests have been destroyed in this province for private gain with little lasting economic benefit to the local communities and no thought for the long-term impacts to ecological services or natural capital. We need to find a way on Cortes to create a different future and better options than the cut and run plan Island Timberland has proposed.

Tzeporah Berman is a Cortes resident and homeowner, mother of two, Co-founder of ForestEthics, PowerUP Canada and newly appointed Co-director of Greenpeace International’s Global Climate and Energy Campaign.


Treating the Forests as if they are Our Relations
An Article about Bruce Ellingsen and the Possible Devastation of our Forests.
Written by Miranda Black, Edited by Bruce Ellingsen

From the memories of growing up in a family who’s lifestyle for a period depended on the logging of the Cortes Island forests, through decades of corporate deforestation and onward into the development of the Cortes Eco Forestry Society, Bruce Ellingsen, has seen industry change multiple times on Cortes Island.

From 1946-1950 Bruce lived in Von Donop Inlet where his father worked alongside three other Cortes Island residents to log the crown forest west of Von Donop Inlet. Each morning Bruce and children of those families would cross the creek that running from Blue Jay Lake on their way to the converted black smith shop used as their school. He remembers fondly those years on visits to Squirrel Cove, seeing hundreds of salmon swim up Basil Creek in order to return to their rearing spots, creating life for another generation of wild chum. The salmon were so abundant that neighbours of the creek would place the spawned out salmon on top of their gardens to amend the soil.

Sixty years later as Bruce reminisces about this time, he observes that the run of wild salmon in our pacific coast rivers have been devastated by mismanagement of forestry activities, commercial fisheries and potentially the recent emergence of farm fisheries. Basil Creek, after many years of seeing the salmon diminish, are this year seeing more them return to face the same dangers their grandparents once did. However, this area of forest that crosses Basil Creek faces industrial deforestation by Island Timberlands, the same company who‘s work consists of logging the parking lots now in Cathedral Grove, along with many other forests throughout Vancouver Island.

Cortes Island has seen the impact of industrial clear cutting more than once since 1979 when Raven Lumber came onto to the island to clear 2200 acres of land. Now, Island Timberlands owns 2700 acres ecologically unique lands consisting of forests from Whaletown to Carrington Bay, Blue Jay Lake, and over to Squirrel Cove. In 1990 the MacMillan Bloedel blockade happened, stopping clear cutting around Basil Creek. Due to the extreme work of the activists and community members, the corporation returned with a plan for lens cutting and selective logging. So what will we do now to protect these irreplaceable, diverse lands so that our children will be able to learn, grow and connect with the Cortes Island forests.

Bruce Ellingson believes that the practice of that ecosystem based management of the forests on Cortes Island would ultimately serve the entire Cortes Island community and sustain the forests themselves. Ecosystem based management, coupled with value added processing of the wood on Cortes Island, would benefit the local economy immensely.

Bruce has worked for close to 20 years on critiquing his philosophy of Sustainable Forest Management, first inspired by a speaking to a community member of a small group from New Brunswick who followed a forestry plan based on selective logging, milling in the woods and further processing all of the wood before being sold into the larger market, benefited their group and the commercial economy. Through a practice like this there are many possibilities for locally owned businesses, multiple jobs for islanders and an economy that is based on the respect of the island’s resources. However, if our forests are logged industrially by an off-island corporation, this will not only leave the forests set back by 80 years and our waterways potentially diminished, but will also leave the local pockets quite empty.

The Cortes Island forests standing strong and an economy that would benefit multiple generations? I say, sign me up.


A Community Member Speaks
by Miranda Black

March 14, 2010

We have been filming a short awareness video in the forest for the last 2  days. I had not been able to spend so much time exploring the 2700  acres of forest that are owned by old-growth logging company Island  Timberlands. This timber company, managed by Brookfield Asset  Management, has taken out many of our forests on Vancouver Island. May  our forest live on for our future generations!

Some areas of these forests consist of 400-500 year old cedars, yews,  doug firs and spruce are covered in so much grand-daddy moss I feel as I  have suddenly exchanged my rain gear for a fairy dress, and I am  tinkerbell waiting for the lost boys and peter pan to appear. By fall  2010, Island Timberlands will start logging these old growth patches or  what I.T. calls “the mold pit”, and start building roads through so that  they can access the other 80-100 year old beautiful, old growth, “less  moldy” trees.

Cortes Island is moving closer and closer to losing a eco-system so  abundant that maintains homes to the wolves, cougar, red-legged frogs,  newts, salmon and other fish.  These forest hold medicinal value,  as many of the mushrooms and lichen that grow in our forest are used in  current cancer and disease research. May our Children be healthy.

We are still in need of millions of dollars to ensure the life-hood of  the forests. There is much wilderness leadership  that will come from  our children learning in these forests and just think of the medicinal  research that can be done. And of the community here on Cortes Island, a  place that is working to be petro-fee and carbon neutral. Without these  forests our community will suffer greatly from soil erosion, our water  resources will be gone and we will not have the resource to filter the  great ammounts of rain that fall each year.

If you can financially help, please do. Send cheques to Wildstands, PO  Box 47, Mansons Landing, Cortes Island, BC, V0P 1K0. If you can help  with awareness, please do! Tell a friend, send an email…something. I  know that many of you love this island and it will stand if we can too.

I will update you on our web information when it is soon available.

Love to you, your family and your community,

“Only love can make it rain like the beach is kissed by the sea.” -Eddie  Vedder

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