July 27, 2014. Trees averaging 5 feet in diameter and over 300 years old lie in shambles. Clearly old growth. Cut.
About 500 hectares of old growth on McLaughlin Ridge in the China Creek watershed near Port Alberni were designated for protection by the BC government in the 1990s. About half of these lands have already been cut.
Back in the 1990s the recommendation for two different designations was given: (1) Ungulate Winter Range – providing wintering habitat for Black-tailed deer and (2) Wildlife Habitat Area – for the, provincially designated, endangered Queen Charlotte Goshawk.
Old growth trees in this area are currently being logged.
Island Timberlands disputes (http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/07/21/groups-fear-fragile-bc-area-logged) the fact that any of the lands being logged were in the area designated as winter range.
This is misleading and just generating confusion.
Regardless of whether the area currently being logged is Ungulate Winter Range or not, it still leaves open the claim that the recommended Wildlife Habitat Area for the endangered Queen Charlotte Goshawk is being logged and old growth trees in the community watershed are falling.
A red-listed species, the Queen Charlotte Goshawk is at heighted risk of decline due to the destruction of their habitat. McLaughlin Ridge is no exception.
Third party audits are needed to identify the boundaries of these areas and hold everyone accountable.
The removal of these lands from Tree Farm Licence 44 in 2004 included the stipulation from the BC government that a follow-up agreement be developed between the company and the government to ensure the protection of McLaughlin Ridge. Unfortunately, both parties failed to pursue the agreement, and the lands are now being logged.
Stronger resource management regulations and policies are required to ensure sustainable resource management for the long term.
Island Timberlands is in areas that were designated by BC government scientists to not be logged. If Island Timberlands continues to insist it is not there then the Watershed Forest Alliance would welcome an agreed third party to audit the area. We do welcome any intent by Island Timberlands to not log these areas.