Heartwood is a social impact documentary series which chronicles coastal communities that are standing up to Big Timber and fighting for a more sustainable and equitable forest economy in British Columbia.

 

THE SERIES

Heartwood is a multi-platform documentary series that explores the wild west of industrial forestry, old-growth logging, the ancient forest movement and the fight for sustainable forestry in British Columbia. This series reveals the cultural and ecological impacts of industrial logging on the coastal landscape – as well as innovative communities that are attempting to cultivate sustainable forestry operations, healthy forests and resilient economies for generations to come.

Cortes Island resident Oliver Kelhammer in the Basil Creek ancient forest, owned by Island Timberlands. Photo by TJ Watt.

Cortes Island resident Oliver Kelhammer in the Basil Creek ancient forest, owned by Island Timberlands. Photo by TJ Watt.

THE STORY

The story centres around Cortes Island, a remote island in the Salish Sea, which encapsulates many facets of this saga. On the one side, community members must organize to oppose an industrial logging operation on private land that is slated to log some of the last few pockets of old-growth forest on the island.

Elsewhere on Cortes Island, the Klahoose Nation and their non-Indigenous allies obtain a historic Community Forestry license, which they propose to manage in a sustainable eco-forestry model, with support for local value-added businesses. But social, economic and political pressures put their values to the test.

We also veer off to other coastal communities engaged in their own conflicts with the timber industry or endeavours to create economic alternatives to clear-cutting. We travel to Port Renfrew, Port Alberni, Powell River, Port Hardy and Sonora Island, assembling a bigger picture of the current state of forestry on the west coast.

Logger and builder Peter Schmidt specializes in making beautiful structures out of "marginally economic" wood. He also has worked as a faller in the Cortes Community Forest.

Logger and builder Peter Schmidt specializes in making beautiful structures out of "marginally economic" wood. He also has worked as a faller in the Cortes Community Forest.

THE ISSUES

Since the last ice age, diverse and abundant temperate rainforests have blanketed the coastal landscape from valley-bottom to mountaintop. But these ancient ecosystems have largely been reduced to tattered fragments by industrial logging.

Yet the forest industry – once the economic lynchpin of many rural communities –has been in decline for decades. Over half of all coastal mills have been shuttered and over 40,000 forestry jobs have been lost in the past two decades.

Since 2001, while timber companies cut more trees and made more money than ever before – and the BC government raked in millions in campaign donations  – the public has been left with all the consequences and ever less of the reward.

BC Leg sust forest rally.jpg

THE ALLIANCE

In response, a coalition of First Nations, environmental activists, small businesses, tourism operators and forestry unions has coalesced around a growing consensus that old-growth logging and raw log exports need to end – and that it is time to shift to a more sustainable and equitable forestry economy in British Columbia.

 
 

About

Find out more about what we stand for, the impact we hope to have in our efforts, and the people behind the project. 

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