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  WaldAktion British Columbia   "Kahlschlag in Kanada"  
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  Wiping Out the Fir Forest    
  Stop Killing Big Trees    
  MacMillan Park Stumpfield   Spirit Bears & Rainwolves in Germany  
  Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere   Colleen McCrory (1950 – 2007)  
  Viva Touristika Rostock   Muir Creek Big Trees  
  Koksilah River Grove   Avatar Grove  



Haida Win Against Weyerhaeuser

The Haida Nation celebrated a landmark legal victory in Ottawa (right) over the continued exploitation by BC and Weyehaeuser of the natural resources on Haida Gwaii, including old growth cedar: "On 18 November 2004 the Supreme Court of Canada released its long awaited decision in the Haida Nation versus British Columbia and Weyerhaeuser case. The Haida had challenged the Minister of Forests' decision to replace a Tree Farm Licence (TFL 39), an exclusive forestry tenure that covers one quarter of the land base of Haida Gwaii, the homeland of the Haida Nation. Logging in TFL 39 has exceeded sustainable rates for years and old growth cedar, an integral material in Haida culture, is becoming extremely rare. The streams that support salmon and other fish have also been harmed" Eagle Law.


Haida victory, Supreme Court, 2004.
Photo: Haida Nation


"Spirit of Haida Gwaii," Scupture by Bill Reid.
Canadian Museum of Civilization


$20 Canadian bill with Haida motifs.
Bill Reid Foundation

The Haida people are well known for their magnificent works of art on view at the Canadian Museum of Civilization such as Bill Reid's "Spirit of Haida Gwaii" (left) which is portrayed on the Canadian $20 bill (above) along with his "Raven and the First Men" sculpture in yellow cedar.


As a result of the landmark 2004 Haida TFL 39 Case, the Haida Nation was able to turn the tables on Weyerhaeuser, an action that resulted in the American logging giant abandoning its operations on Haida Gwaii. A component of the Haida's legal case against Weyerhaeuser was the corporation's rampant excessive logging of ancient red cedar, a vital aboriginal heritage tree. Everywhere on Haida Gwaii, the use of monumental cedar in traditional culture is evident, from half finished canoes (right) in the forests to totem poles lining the beaches. The Supreme Court of Canada's ruling means that sustainable indigenous forest management on Haida Gwaii is allowed to continue.

Haida Nation leader Guujaaw, 2006.
Photo: EcoTrust


Haida canoe relic of an ancient red cedar.
Haida Gwaii

Guujaaw, president of the Haida Nation: "The Court made it clear that the status quo would have to change, and that it was not honourable for the Crown to run roughshod over the rights and interests of the Haida. The legal principles articulated by the court created opportunities to reconcile Haida and Crown title through new models for long term sustainability in Haida Gwaii. . . The Court ruling represents an obligation which is the best chance for the well being and sustainability of the land." In 2006 EcoTrust honoured Guujaaw (left) for his environmental and economic initiatives on Haida Gwaii.

  We Need a Paper Revolution!

"Papierwende" is a travelling photographic exhibition on paper consumption in Germany (right). It reaches out to schools and communities with the environmental battlecry "We Need a Paper Revolution!" The educational exhibition is travelling across Germany as part of a campaign organized by local environmental groups and supported by the federal government. Germany is the world's third largest consumer of paper in the world and the campaign aims to teach people how to reduce their paper consumption and why they should use only 100 percent recycled post consumer paper. In conjunction with the Goettingen exhibition lectures were given describing how the high German consumption of paper threatens the indigenous peoples and their forests in countries such as Indonesia, Canada and Brasil.


Paper consumption exhibit, Goettingen.
Photo: Stephan Roehl


"Papierwende" Exhibition on Paper Consumption in Germany (Click photos to enlarge)

  Spirit Bears & Rainwolves in Germany

Ancient forest ecosystems are crutial to the survival of keystone wildlife species such as the so called spirit bear and rainwolf of British Columbia (BC). In 2009 photographer Klaus Pommerenkes published a book, "Der Regenwald der weissen Baeren," about Canada's Pacific coastal rainforest which he describes as an endangered ecosystem (right). Useful maps illustrate the text and show how the habitat or "Lebensraeume" of the great predator species is constantly shrinking due to resource extraction. Although it has been semi protected since 2009, when it became known as the "Great Bear Rainforest," many environmental issues still threaten this wild forest and impinge on First Nations land rights and traditions including trophy hunting, logging, fish farms, mining, and oil and gas pipelines.


Cover of a book on the Great Bear Rainforest.
Klaus Pommerenke, 2009


Grizzly bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Photo: Klaus Pommerenkes


As part of its new "green face" for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the BC government invested much effort in advertising the Great Bear Rainforest as a major nature protection initiative. Due to gag orders on the environmental groups who negotiated the initiative, few dissenting voices are heard despite the fact that many activists view it as an environmental sellout and fraudulent big business scam.

German activists who were prominent during the market campaign in Europe have an astute understanding of the devastating compromises made to industry under the cover of greenwash. Discredited schemes devised by the Forest Stewardship Council include Ecologically Based Management. It is hoped that pulp and lumber products made from old growth forests will soon be banned by the European Union.


Euro Americans must reconsider their antagonistic relationship to wolves; reviled as predators, wolves have been long been misunderstood, persecuted and threatened. Raincoast Conservation Society's film "Rainwolves" (right) was presented in Goettingen, Germany at the Institute for Scientific Film during a 2004 symposium on "Moving Images in Life Sciences." The film provides rare documentary footage of native BC wolves fishing for salmon in the temperate rainforest, digging for clams, and swimming from island to island while hunting. Importantly, "Rainwolves" covers habitat loss and other threats faced by the wolves. By recording the vanishing primaeval coastal wilderness of the so called "Great Bear Rainforest," the film exposes the ever present danger of transnational logging, mining and energy corporations in search of increasingly scarce natural resources even in an area that is supposedly protected.


Screenshot from "Rainwolves."
Raincoast Conservation Society


Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, 2006.
Photo: Sevilla

Wolves in BC are not only losing their habitat due to resource exploitation but they are the victims of a colonialist mentality aimed at eradicating predators to increase elk and other big game animals for sport hunting. Thus wolves continue to be hunted, trapped, poisoned and sterilized in a hidden war conducted by the government (right).


"Rainwolves – From Obscurity to Renown" is the first study of coastal wolves concerned with evolutionary, ecological and conservation oriented questions such as: "Are wolves on the coast genetically unique? How might hunting by humans affect genetic diversity? On which resources do wolves depend, and how does logging affect this predator prey system? How does an archipelago system influence gene flow among landmasses?"


Tree ring contest winner, Rostock, 2005.
"Kanadas vergessene Kueste"

In 2007 McAllister published "The Last Wild Wolves" in which he documents the behaviour of two wolf packs in the outer and inner coastal islands of BC (right). The photos by McAllister show the animals catching salmon, stalking seals, playing on the beach and raising their young. Scientific research and traditional indigenous knowledge substantiate that these wolves are genetically distinct; "unlike other wolves, they subsist on coastal prey and swim from island to island in their archipelago home." MacAllister's book stresses the need to preserve the Great Bear Rainforest as one of the last coastal wildernesses in North America where wolves and grizzly bears live relatively undisturbed by humans.


Ian McAllister's 1997 book, "The Great Bear Rainforest," was instrumental in bringing the need to protect the coastal BC wilderness to public attention, also in Europe. Translated into German as "Kanadas vergessene Kueste," the book has been important to raising the awareness in Germany of BC's endangered wildlife and their habitats. A copy of the book was won by a young German girl (left) during a tree ring counting contest organized by AKU to educate the public about the disastrous forest policies in Canada.

Book cover, "The Last Wild Wolves."
By Ian McAllister


Rainwolf pup, Great Bear Rainforest, 2008.
Photo: Ian McAllister


McAllister released a statement on 1 April 2008 accusing the BC government of failing to protect the Great Bear Rainforest. He says that the 2006 eco based land use agreement that promised to establish new conservancy boundaries remains unlegislated. Instead new large scale industrial proposals are planned such as wind farms on Banks Island Conservancy and the flooding of lake systems in the Nascall Conservancy.

Furthermore the Spring Trophy Hunt opens across BC every spring, encouraging big game hunters to kill for sport. Victims include wolves, grizzly bears and black bears, including bears with the recessive gene found in the endangered BC Spirit Bear, the mascot of the Great Bear Rainforest conservation movement. "Flooded rivers, dead bears and massive wind farms are not what the people of the world were promised."

Colleen McCrory (1950 – 2007)

The sudden and unexpected death of 57 year old Colleen McCrory on 1 July 2007 has left the BC environmental movement without a leader. Colleen was one of the founders of a grassroots environmental group based in the small town of New Denver on Slocan Lake in the Kootenays area of southeastern BC. Colleen McCrory was born and raised in the East Kootenays, the daughter of a placer miner, and her love for the wilderness and its wildlife inhabitants inspired in the 1980s her first battle to protect the Slocan Watershed from the voracious clearcut logging that has devastated so much of the Kootenays. While she was in Berlin, Germany in 2004 to attend the 25th anniversary party of the German Greens, Colleen McCrory lobbied for the wildlife of BC (right).


Colleen McCrory, Berlin, 2004.
Photo: Karen Wonders


Eva Quistorp and Colleen McCrory, Berlin, 2004.
Photo: Stephan Roehl

AKU (ArbeitsKreis noerdliche Urwaelder) is a German forest activist network that supports the mountain caribou protection campaign by the Valhalla Wilderness Society. Toby Spribille, a lichenologist at Goettingen University with some 4,000 specimens in his collection, believes that BC's inland rainforest may well have the greatest biodiversity in the northern hemisphere. In 2006 he published a scientific paper on the 13 new lichen species dependent on old growth forests that his research group had discovered and named: Inland Rainforests.


"Kahlschlag in Kanada" Colleen McCrory often lobbied in Europe and she was well known to international campaigners. In 2004 she visited Germany to draw attention to the lack of representation of Green voters in BC and to seek support for BC's environmentalists. In Berlin, at the German Green Party's 25th anniversary celebration, Colleen met Eva Quistorp (left), a founding member and the Green German Minister of the Environment: Juergen Trittin (below).

Trittin and McCrory, Berlin, 2004.
Photo: Stephan Roehl


One of Colleen McCrory's last acts of nature protection was the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal. Anne Sherrod, president of the Valhalla Wilderness Society, wrote the BC premier: "Colleen spent the last nine years of her life calling attention to the value of the old growth Inland Temperate Rainforest and trying to save its endangered mountain caribou. She was extremely upset that old growth forest continued to be logged even while the mountain caribou was struggling to survive. She was outraged that the recovery process for mountain caribou had been going on for over three years with no definitive result" (6 July 2007).

BC's inland temperate rainforest has 98 percent of the world's surviving mountain caribou. In 2007, 42 scientists signed a petition demanding the protection of the species from the wood products industry: "One can kill animals quickly with a gun, or slowly by destroying their habitat. The mountain caribou are on the slow road to extinction and we are killing them. Their best chance and only chance of survival is to protect the last remaining old growth."


Colleen McCrory with big cedar.
Photo: Valhalla Wilderness Society


Ancient Inland Rainforest cedar.
Photo: Valhalla Wilderness Society


Joan Russow, former leader of the Green Party of Canada, writes about Colleen McCrory: "Since spending time with her in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janerio, and through years of being aware of and appreciating her leadership in the environmental movement in British Columbia, I was always impressed with her unwavering passion for the environment, her astute analysis of the politics surrounding the environment, and her enduring commitment to the need to find environmental solutions in the interdependence of international, national and regional environmental issues. Who can forget the power of her coining the phrase 'BC is the Brazil of the North.'"

To honour Colleen McCrory, in 2006 the Valhalla Wilderness Society called for a moratorium on all old growth logging in the Inland Rainforest. To support this important initiative, the German environmental network AKU held a demonstration in Berlin in 2007.


Colleen McCrory hiking, Selkirk Range.
Photo: Valhalla Wilderness Society

Gitxsan Chief Mas Gak: "Colleen was a staunch supporter of the Degalmuukw Title Action from start to finish. The Gitxsan will never forget her and what she has done to protect the spirit in the land. Walk on, walk on, Colleen. There is happiness and laughter at the campfires of our ancestors."


In Norse mythology, "Valhalla" refers to a warrior's heaven. The mountain wilderness in the Kootaneys that Colleen McCrory helped to protect will forever attest to her passion and dedication as an environmental activist. Today her memory is best honoured by continuing the urgent preservation battle to save the ancient inland temperate rainforest of the Selkirk Range.

"Summit of the Selkirk Range."
Painting by John A. Fraser, 1886

  Big Trees at Muir Creek

Muir Creek is a salmon stream surrounded by old growth fir, cedar, maple and Sitka spruce located in the traditional territory of the T'Sou'ke First Nation on the southernmost end of Vancouver Island (right). A small number of the spectacular native big trees at Muir Creek have survived the past 50 years of industrial logging. The second largest yew tree in the BC Big Tree Registry grows at Muir Creek, and up to ten other trees may qualify for the registry once their heights have been measured. Yet today these rare and endangered big trees are being targeted for helicopter logging by TimberWest, an unscrupulous lumber company with a long record of ancient forest destruction. Community members have begun an urgent initiative to save the trees and preserve the lower part of Muir Creek.


Fallen Giant at Muir Creek
Watercolour by Ravens Home


"Indian canoes," John Muir Sawmill, c. 1860.
Photo: Archives Canada

Muir Creek was one of the first sites in the new British colony to be claimed by settlers. It was named for a Scottish coal miner, John Muir (right), who had arrived in Victoria in 1850 when it was still a fur trading fort. In 1860 Muir set up a sawmill further along the coast, where he could prosper by cutting down the huge Douglas firs. This was an aboriginal site traditionally used by T'Sou'ke people for winter dancing and smoking fish. The John Muir Sawmill was the first steam sawmill in the new colony; a c. 1860 photo (above) of it includes a group of settlers posed around two traditional Coast Salish dugout canoes, remarkable vessels carved by the indigenous peoples from massive red cedar trees.

The Muir Sawmill supplied Muir's lumber yard in Victoria from 1860 until 1892. Muir also started the largest privately owned fleet of ships on the Northwest Coast and became a magistrate and member of the first Legislative Assembly of Vancouver Island. Clearly the Scottish settler found success and prosperity in the new colony and he must have known of and perhaps taken part in the 1883 Dunsmuir Land Grab.


In 1883 23 percent of Vancouver Island, mostly forest lands never before harvested, including the area around Muir Creek, became part of a corrupt land grab by Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish coal baron and early settler. The land was not ceded by its indigenous Coast Salish inhabitants, yet it fell into the hands of a succession of lumbermen such as H. R. MacMillan all of whom made private fortunes by destroying the primaeval forests.

John Muir, 1849.
Photo: British Columbia Archives


A drawing made in 1880 of the John Muir homestead, called "Woodside," shows some of the trees that were too large to cut down and be milled (right). Until the technologies necessary for industrial logging were developed, most of the big trees in BC and on Vancouver Island remained alive.

"Loaded Logging Truck at Muir Creek," 1944.
Photo: British Columbia Archives


Woodside homestead, 1880
Drawing by I. A. Andrew

By the early decades of the 20th century logging methods had adapted to accomodate big trees and industrial clearcutting began in earnest. For more than 50 years, huge logs (left) from the forests at Muir Creek have been trucked out to satisfy the unending demand for wood products, leaving behind a denuded wasteland.


Mungo Martin totem pole, 2008.
Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC

The Extermination of Totem Trees In 1955, a 50 m red cedar tree growing at Muir Creek was selected for a totem pole and towed by tug to Victoria where it was carved by Mungo Martin (1881 – 1962), a Kwakiutl chief and influential artist who revitalized Northwest Coast carving traditions. The 38.8 m high totem pole was erected in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria as a tourist attraction and proclaimed by city officials to be "the world's tallest history book" (right). Today it is difficult to find large enough cedar trees from which to carve totem poles and Northwest Coast art is threatened.


Mungo Martin totem pole, Victoria, 1955.
Photo: British Columbia Archives


Town Pole, Evergreen Mall, Sooke.
Photo: Town of Sooke

The Town Pole of Sooke (above) is located at the Evergreen Mall. Note the size of the two huge Douglas firs on the right for scale. At the top of the pole is a larger than life model of a "high rigger," the term for logging industry workers who climbed the highest trees to harness them as "spar trees" which were then used to clearcut log the forest. Below him is a logger standing on springboards with his axe deeply embedded in the giant tree. This public sculpture displayed in the middle of Sooke (right) is a tribute to the origins of this logging industry settler community. Today the lucrative logging days on Vancouver Island have ended and dubious land transfer schemes are being arranged whereby logged off forests are subdivided for real estate despite having been subsidized for decades as Tree Farm Licences.


The town of Sooke was incorporated in 1999, named after the Sooke regional district which in turn took its name from the T’souke people who were its original inhabitants. Most of the old growth forests in Sooke were logged during the past century and now the second growth forests are being logged by TimberWest, a company well known for its unethical logging practices and shady Tree Farm License transactions.

Town Pole, Evergreen Mall, Sooke.
Photo: Karen Wonders


Giant Sitka Spruce, Muir Creek, 2006.
Photo: Muir Creek Protection Society

Three species of salmon (Spring, Coho and Chum) spawn in Muir Creek (right). The estuary of Muir Creek is a wildlife haven for river otters, mink, bears, eagles, herons, king fishers and dippers, all which depend on runs of chum, cutthroat and steelhead. This ecosystem has already been severely degraded by the Arden Gravel Pit. Yet in 2008 BC's Ministry of Mines approved a large extention of this operation despite b community opposition and a long record of non compliance with environmental regulations.


TimberWest is profiteering by real estate speculation and after it completes its planned logging of Muir Creek, the land will be degraded yet further by subdivisions. Because few government regulations exist to protect the environment and watersheds of local communities, citizens have declared their dedication to preserving the Muir Creek big trees and to founding a much needed public park to provide ocean access to a beach well known for its remarkable fossils.

Muir Creek riparian ecosystem, 2008.
Photo: Muir Creek Protection Society


Ancient red cedar, Muir Creek, 2006.
Photo: Muir Creek Protection Society


Private owners of forest lands like TimberWest claim to be exempt from environmental regulations. Indeed logging corporations have been able to grab huge sections of profitable forest lands with government compliance. Rather than protect the forest lands as public domain and address the fundamental issues of Aboriginal Title, the BC government continues to serve big business and disregard local communities.

Some veteran survivors of industrial logging can still be found on the banks of Muir Creek. Numerous Sitka spruce trees measure over 6 m; the largest is almost 8 m. Aboriginal heritage trees include a gigantic western red cedar 9 m (29 ft, 6 in) in circumference (left). All together, nine of monumental trees at Muir Creek are large enouch to be included in the BC Big Tree Registry.


Muir Creek is one of the few habitats in BC where the rare and endangered "Warty Jumping Slug" can be found (right), a species that is protected by Canadian environmental law. It is indicative of the low priority placed by the BC government on protection for species of native flora and fauna that no effort is made to preserve their habitat where it conflicts with industrial resource extraction. "The greatest threat to this species is clearcut logging, which results in habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. Logging alters the quality and quantity of coarse woody debris used by the Warty Jumping slug for refuge. It isolates populations and restricts gene flow because this slug is relatively sedentary and has poor dispersal abilities."


Warty Jumping Slug.
Photo: Kristiina Ovaska

  Avatar Grove



Bighoory, 2008.
Photo: Ine