Victory for Haida Nation and ELC

June 4 , 2007

VICTORIA – The Council of the Haida Nation (”Haida Nation”] and the ELC recently succeeded in a case opposing logging in the Deena watershed on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). ELC student Alison Luke represented the Haida Nation in its effort to stop a proposed amendment to Teal Cedar Product’s  Forest Development Plan for TFL 47 – an amendment that would have authorized logging the last substantial patch of Old Growth along the main stem of one of Moresby Island’s most important fish bearing streams.

Ministry of Forest photo

Working closely with the Haida Nation’s dedicated staff, ELC student Alison Luke provided an Administrative Review Panel with lengthy written submissions arguing against the proposed amendment.  (The Panel had been established to consider the company’s appeal of the District Manager’s rejection of the amendment application).  Luke’s submissions emphasized the importance of the Haida Cultural Values found in the Deena Watershed, an area that has historically been an important source of Haida food, medicine, cedar and other materials used for cultural practices. Concerns were raised over the potential impact of logging on the monumental cedar used for canoes and totems, other cultural uses of old growth cedar, critical wildlife and ecological values, and old growth representation.   Luke also argued that approval of logging would violate government’s constitutional obligations to consult and accommodate the interests of the Haida Nation.

In addition, the submission detailed the serious hydrological and riparian impacts that would result from further logging in the Deena Watershed.  The Watershed has already suffered extensive denuding of Old Growth and riparian areas, leading to scores of logging-related landslides.  Maintaining the remaining Old Growth is necessary to stabilize the river and protect it from the massive amounts of sediment currently pulsating down the stream.  The proposed logging also would have threatened fish and wildlife habitat, including populations of salmon and red-listed marbled murrelets.  Ironically, the proposal would have logged an area that the licensee had previously proposed for protection because of its recognized high ecological values.

Moreover, the ELC submitted that a decision to permit logging in Deena 08 would conflict with — and undermine — the multistakeholder Land Use Planning Process currently underway in Haida Gwaii.  Finally, Luke also argued that there had not been adequate consultation with the Haida Nation.  She cited a striking failure to consult:  despite the Haida Nation’s  formal objections to logging the area when the application to log was first made, neither the provincial government or the company gave the Haida notice that the District Manager’s original rejection of the proposal to log DEEN08 had actually been appealed by Teal Cedar.  It was only by chance that the Haida learned that the matter had gone to appeal, and that logging authorization was still being sought.

Ministry of Forest photo

Ministry of Forest photo

On May 7th 2007, the Administrative Review Panel ruled in favour of the Haida Nation, upholding the District Manager’s previous decision that the proposed amendment failed to “adequately manage and conserve forest resources”, as required by s. 41(1)(b) of the Forest Practice Code.

After considering the resources in the proposed cut block, in the watershed, and in the broader landscape level planning area of the Skidegate Landscape Unit, the Panel was satisfied that the proposed logging area included Old Forest values and wildlife habitat of significance to the management and conservation of the Deena Watershed. Noting that the presence of Old Forest characteristics was a primary determining factor in the decision not to approve the amendment, the Panel ultimately held that the Old Growth forest associated with the area in question must be retained in order to preserve the region’s wildlife and biodiversity values.

Thus, the Panel rejected Teal Cedar’s application to amend the FDP to authorize logging the remaining Old Growth.  This decision signifies a victory for the Haida, the ELC, and indeed, the old growth forests of Haida Gwaii.

The ELC case was initiated by Anne Silsbe, and argued by Alison Luke.  Read the Administrative Review Panel Decision (PDF 355kb)


The Haida Nation’s effort to protect their territory continues.  Despite the decision, the licensee continues to push for logging in the area.  It has “declared” the area for logging under their Forest Stewardship Plan and has applied for a road permit.  The Haida Nation and the ELC continue to work on this issue.