In May 2018, the AFA explored the Nahmint Valley, in Tseshaht and Hupacasath territory near Port Alberni, which is considered a “hotspot” of high-conservation value old-growth forest by conservation groups and is home to Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, cougars, wolves, and black bears, as well as old-growth associated species like the Marbled Murrelet and northern goshawk. The area also supports significant salmon and steelhead spawning runs.
Hundreds of hectares of the grandest old-growth forests in Canada were being logged at breakneck speeds in the Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni, including thousands of old-growth western redcedars – some 4.3 meters (12 feet) in diameter – and exceptionally large Douglas-firs. BC’s 5th and 9th widest Douglas-fir trees, according to the BC Big Tree Registry, have been found on recent expeditions to the area. The logging has been coordinated by the BC government’s own logging agency, BC Timber Sales (BCTS), which has auctioned off over 300 hectares of these magnificent ancient forests. The AFA submitted a natural resource violation complaint to the Ministry of Forests in June 2018 under the suspicion that the logging violated the province’s own land-use regulations.
In May 2021, the Forest Practices Board finally released the results of their investigation into AFA’s 2018 complaint about destructive logging in the Nahmint Valley. The board confirmed that BC Timber Sales (BCTS), the province’s own logging agency, failed to adequately protect old-growth forests and biodiversity in the Nahmint, revealed a shocking lack of accountability within the Ministry of Forests, and provided further proof of the urgent need for sweeping, systemic changes to forest policy.
In November 2021, the province released independent scientific mapping of BC’s endangered old-growth forests, and in principle accepted recommendations to defer logging in 2.6 million hectares of at-risk old-growth forests, which included the Nahmint watershed. The province also immediately deferred all future BCTS cutblocks that overlap with identified at-risk forests.
Photos by TJ Watt in May 2018.