The leaders of a B.C. First Nation have condemned a move by anti-logging protesters who cut down some small trees to impede police from enforcing a court injunction against blockades set up to prevent old-growth logging on southern Vancouver Island.
The RCMP said in a news release Saturday that protesters had cut 18 trees with chainsaws and laid the trunks across a road in the Fairy Creek watershed area.
The Pacheedaht First Nation called the protesters’ actions “disrespectful and anti-social,” noting that no public trees in the territory can be cut down without their permission.
Pacheedaht First Nation hereditary chief Frank Queesto Jones and chief councillor Jeff Jones listed a series of other concerns, including vandalism, unsanitary camp conditions and a lack of access to traditional activities such as berry picking and bark gathering as well as hunting and fishing.
The group, dubbed the Rainforest Flying Squad, said Monday that members cut the small, second-growth trees in order to slow police progress in reaching other protesters who were chained to structures.
The group also said it has the support of Pacheedaht First Nation elder Bill Jones, releasing a statement from Jones that said it’s common practice in logging to cut down young trees growing at the side of roadways and that’s not a threat to ecology.
The Rainforest Flying Squad said that very little of the old-growth forest remains in B.C., and the province’s temporary deferral of old-growth logging across 2,000 hectares in the Fairy Creek and central Walbran areas falls short of what’s needed.
— With files from The Canadian Press