The Legal War in the Woods

I became aware recently of the content of Teal Cedar’s application for a third injunction against interference with their operations in the Special Management Zone 21 encompassing the Central Walbran and surrounding territory.  It’s very interesting reading, including a detailed account of the direct action we’ve seen individuals have been taking in the valley.  The reader will be surprised to see it asks that the BC Supreme Court grant an injunction lasting an incredible 9 months!  And you can’t help but cringe at the not-so-amusing parallel between their requested duration and well known human biological processes that take a similar time.

More interestingly, the application also discusses the concept of “irreparable harm“.

The reader of the application will learn that for an injunction to be granted, three conditions must be met.  One of those conditions injunction app 2is that “the applicant will suffer irreparable harm if the relief is not granted.”  Well, what does that mean exactly?  Teal brand cedar shingles (yes, really) first came to existence 70 years ago.  Some of the trees in the Walbran are more than 1000 years old, the karst geology beneath the forests have been developing for millennia, and of course both will be destroyed by industrial logging. If I understand the scientists correctly, they will be destroyed permanently, as will the benefits these forests confer on our society.  That sounds pretty “irreparable” to me!  You’ve seen the many arguments for protecting our ancient forests before; among them the most devastating consequence we face is the loss of biodiversity in an age when we are facing certain climate change with unpredictable consequences.  These ancient forests are incredibly important natural capital to retain for that inevitable future for ourselves and our children.

The amount we’re asking the BC Government to set aside and protect here is a tiny fraction of Teal Cedar’s TFL 46.  11666030_792057227581158_6167473968347157697_nThe question that should be in front of the courts is not whether Teal Cedar might suffer irreparable harm without an injunction, but  to consider the irreparable harm that would be done to these forests, geology, inhabitants, ecosystems and communities that rely on them now and will rely on them in future; whether that irreparable harm is worth whatever short term financial benefit that would be extracted.  While they may have a statutory license, industry has not been granted a social licence to operate in the Walbran Valley.  The people of southern Vancouver Island, aware that these forests are  now reduced to  less than 10 % of their original extent, are almost universally opposed to  further logging of our ancient forests.

I know that I for one will be there in the Victoria provincial court on 4 January, to learn how our proud legal system deals with this challenge.  I’ll post more details here as they become available, for any who would like to participate in this.

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