Apr 12, 2022


Putting misinformation and wild claims to bed

With threats of protest camps returning to Tree Farm Licence 46 (TFL46) on southern Vancouver Island, we expect it won’t be long before we start seeing the wild claims and misinformation that have characterized the last couple of years.

So let’s get some facts laid down.

The Fairy Creek watershed is a small part of the TFL. It’s fully protected. It’s not up for logging.

Fairy Creek is a watershed of about 1,200 hectares in the larger 70,000-hectare tree farm license. Well before protestors showed up about 1,000 hectares of the watershed was already protected in old growth and wildlife management areas. These are mechanisms the province established many years ago to protect special areas outside parks. If an area of forest is identified as having important wildlife habitat, a sensitive stream, special old trees, or other feature it can be set aside in one of these areas.

BC has about 55,000 old growth management areas, covering about 3.9 million hectares. Millions of hectares more are protected in parks or other areas. BC has about 14 million hectares of old growth forest, of which about 10 million hectares are protected or unsuitable for logging.

More than half of the old growth within TFL46 is protected in old growth management areas or other areas, as appropriate. There are some sensitive wildlife habitats in the TFL (including part of the Fairy Creek watershed). They’re protected.

You may hear claims from blockaders that Teal Jones plans to harvest in these protected areas regardless, but that’s baseless. These areas are protected by law, and we respect them.

Three years ago, Teal Jones proposed a cutblock of about 20 hectares in Fairy Creek, within the approximately 200 hectares of land then available for harvesting on the northern ridge of the watershed, which has mostly smaller hemlock and some cedar. Last year the local First Nations requested harvesting in that area be deferred while they prepared land use management plans. We agreed, and put those plans on hold. That’s where things stand at the moment.

There is another type of protected area within TFL46 that bears mentioning. A few years ago the Pacheedaht First Nation, which has its own thriving forestry operations, reviewed TFL46 and identified several areas they would like preserved for cultural reasons. Teal Jones agreed to that. We value our relationship with the nation, and respect their management of the land.

TFL46 used to be a lot larger than it is today. In the 1990s the province ran a process looking at old growth management and from that created numerous new parks, including several carved out of TFL46. The largest and best-known of those parks is the 16,500-hectare Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park (recall – TFL46 is currently about 70,000 hectares in size). In this map, you can see there are several large parks to the south and west of TFL46.

Teal Jones purchased the rights to TFL46 in 2004, primarily to provide wood fibre to our then-new small log mill in Surrey. Using cutting-edge laser technology, our small log mill maximizes value from smaller second-growth trees.

Most of the logging we undertake in TFL46 is in second growth. We do harvest modest amounts of the available, unprotected old growth as well – over time. But, again, more than half of the old growth in the TFL is protected, and the TFL is surrounded by big parks.

The old growth trees we do harvest are valuable due to the unique characteristics such trees possess. And, we make the most of such trees. Teal Jones does not ship any raw logs, but is a value-added manufacturer. We have a number of mills with different specialities, allowing us to maximize the value and jobs each of these trees can create.

For example, we make guitar tops, which guitar makers purchase along with other products to make fine musical instruments. The tops form the main body of the instruments, and we’re one of the world’s largest makers of this speciality, high-value product.

In our mills, when we come across a special piece of what we call ‘tone wood’ it’s pulled aside and cut into blocks, which are then shipped to our dedicated guitar top mill. Old growth spruce and cedar make wonderful guitars.

We also do speciality cuts for other types of musical instrument makers, furniture makers, and architects, among others.

Teal Jones makes more than 18,000 different wood products in our mills – a lot of it speciality cuts to the dimensions set by specific customers for their work.

We have seven milling operations at our Surrey headquarters alone, employing more than half of our 1,000-strong BC workforce in milling and manufacturing at the site.

We use 100 per cent of every log in our mills, with the chips and sawdust left over from milling going to pulp and paper makers. Nothing is wasted.

We take a balanced, responsible approach to forestry, harvesting small cutblocks and leaving protected areas alone. We celebrate parks, knowing they will be there for our children, while also producing wood products we all use every day.

These are the facts.

You may hear claims that we plan to harvest a special area or a specific old tree. Take care with that – it’s often just spin from blockaders. Think back to the so-called Grandfather Tree, a random but photogenic big cedar tree in TFL46 activists ran a social media campaign about in September of 2021. They claimed we were going to cut that tree before the weekend, causing an uproar within their circles (and bringing in donations while they were at it). When the outrage started the tree was 1,000 years old, but in the claims being made had aged to more than 2,000 years old within a day.

Turns out the Grandfather Tree is in a protected area and was never up for logging. It was just something they made up. When the facts came to light they just moved on to the next claim.

As for us, we’ll stay focused on the facts, on responsible forestry, on jobs, and products we can be proud of.