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B.C.’s ‘war in the woods’ battlegrounds to be permanently protected

VICTORIA — Forests that were environmental and Indigenous rights battlegrounds over clearcut logging during British Columbia’s “war in the woods” in the 1980s and 1990s are set to receive permanent protections.

The B.C. government says an agreement with two Vancouver Island First Nations will protect about 760 square kilometres of Crown land in Clayoquot Sound by establishing 10 new conservancies in areas that include old-growth forests and unique ecosystems.

Forests Minister Bruce Ralston says in a statement the partnership involves reconfiguring the tree farm licence in the Clayoquot Sound area to protect the old-growth zones while supporting other forest industry tenures held by area First Nations.

Statements from the Clayoquot Sound’s Ahoushat and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations say the conservancies will protect old-growth forests on Meares Island and in the Kennedy Lake area, sites of protests that led to hundreds of arrests.

Ahousaht First Nation hereditary representative Tyson Atleo says the establishment of the new conservancies will be celebrated widely, but the First Nation will now put out the call for government, industry and public support for the area’s future management by the Ahousaht.

Environmental organization Nature United says in a statement it has committed more than $40 million to support the two First Nations’ efforts in Clayoquot Sound, including compensating the forestry tenure holder and funding two Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht nation conservancy management endowments.

The conservancies come into effect on June 26.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2024.

The Canadian Press