Old-Growth Under Threat | Schmidt Creek, Vancouver Island

Recently Heartwood director Dan Pierce took a flight in a Cessna over the Schmidt Creek valley on Vancouver Island, one of the last old-growth rainforests left on the eastern part of the island. This valley is in close proximity to the world renowned orca whale rubbing beaches of Robson Bight. However, this area is currently being targeted for logging by BC Timber Sales – the BC government's own logging agency.

Environmental groups are concerned that logging on the steep slopes in these areas could destabilize the soil and harm nearby rubbing beaches. The BC NDP government made a promise to take a "scientific approach" to land-use planning, "using the Great Bear Rainforest as a model." It's time for the BC government to save what little is left of the old-growth forests on Vancouver Island and begin the transition to sustainable, second-growth forestry.

Be sure to turn the sound up or listen on decent headphones as this video features the powerful music of Michael Red and Jenny Lea.



25 Years after the War in the Woods: Why B.C.’s forests are still in crisis

Heartwood director Dan Pierce wrote an in-depth piece for The Narwhal tracing the evolution of B.C.’s forest industry over the past 25 years – from the mass protests of Clayoquot Sound in 1993 to the current state of B.C.’s forests and forest industry today.

“When 12,000 people showed up on the remote coast of Vancouver Island in the summer of 1993 for the Clayoquot Sound blockades, history was in the making.

It was one of the largest acts of mass civil disobedience in Canadian history, with almost 1,000 people arrested in what would become known as the War in the Woods. The arrests of youth and elders were seen on television screens and in newspapers around the world.”


B.C. to Continue Wolf Cull, Despite Warnings It Won’t Save Caribou

Heartwood director Daniel J. Pierce wrote an article for The Narwhal (formerly DeSmog Canada) about the continuation of the wolf cull under the BC NDP government – despite warnings from scientists and conservation groups that this alone will not save caribou from local extinction.

Despite widespread condemnation from conservation groups and scientists, the B.C. government is set to continue shooting wolves from helicopters in an attempt to save endangered mountain caribou herds from local extinction in the South Selkirk, South Peace and North Columbia herd areas.

The wolf cull is happening in conjunction with other measures to try and stem the decline of mountain caribou herds, including maternity penning projects and restricting snowmobiles in some critical habitat.

“The wolf cull, maternity pens, it’s all part of the talk-and-log process that’s going on,” says Craig Pettitt of the Valhalla Wilderness Society. “We know damn well that the caribou need habitat and, as we talk, they are logging their habitat.


Heartwood in the running for Telefilm Micro-Budget Production Funding!

We are excited to announce that Heartwood has been selected by CineVic in Victoria to advance to the next round of considerations for the Telefilm Micro-Budget Program! Despite the name of the program, the fund is not so micro. This grant could bring in over $125,000 in funding to produce this project as a 7-part web series with a virtual reality component. Fingers crossed we get the almighty green light! Check out director Dan Pierce's pitch video for the grant above.

How Fungi Could Help Replenish Forests After Logging

The small community that lives on Cortes Island, a remote and richly forested spot off the British Columbia coast, is known for fiercely protecting its trees. It's been successful in the past at fending off big timber companies, yet Cortes still hasn't been entirely spared the chainsaw. Just like the rest of the province, clearcuts are scattered about the island in various states of partial regrowth. Only isolated groves of old growth trees remain.

Cortes has a way of attracting some of the top eco-intellectuals in the world. Some have set about to heal these wounds by purchasing clear-cut lands and attempting to restore them.

One of the biggest names on the island is mycologist Paul Stamets, who is best known for deploying fungi to clean up humanity's worst messes. He has been coming to Cortes from his home in Washington State since 1988 to teach workshops on mushroom cultivation and foraging. In the early 2000s, he bought 160 acres of land on Cortes—90 acres of intact forest and 70 acres that had been clear-cut.

[Continue reading on Vice Motherboard.]

Future Proofing Forests For Climate Change

[This article was written for Vice Motherboard.]

When I first travelled to Cortes Island, off the coast of British Columbia, in 2012, Oliver Kellhammer was one of the first people I met. Kellhammer is a landscape artist and permaculture instructor. He splits his time between New York City, where he teaches at the New School, and working in his garden on this small island in the fjords between Vancouver Island and mainland B.C.

Kellhammer has described Cortes as a "mostly overlooked, densely forested blob of rock," so idyllic and seemingly far from the real world that it can feel like inhabiting "the label of a Celestial Seasonings tea box." The small island is also a living laboratory of innovative forestry projects.

[Click to continue reading on Vice Motherboard.]

New Heartwood trailer launches today!

If there is one thing I have learned from the past four years of producing my new documentary series Heartwood: A West Coast Forestry Documentree, it is that there is no shortage of people who all agree that B.C.’s forest sector is in desperate need of some new ideas – particularly on the coast.

I have gone sailing with tourism operators in the Discovery Islands, whose clients are complaining of hideous scars on the hillsides of busy tourism corridors. They have come around the world to see pristine wilderness, not industrial clear-cuts, and they are saying they should have gone to Alaska instead. 

I have driven in pick-up trucks with disillusioned loggers, who are fed up with the contracting out of falling jobs by the major timber companies. These fallers are now responsible for their own insurance and their own safety, while the timber companies assume no responsibility for the people who harvest the trees.

I have marched in the streets with out of work pulp and paper workers, who are tired of seeing their jobs exported overseas. Over 40,000 forestry jobs been lost and over half of coastal mills have closed in the past decade, while log exports have increased by over 1,200 per cent.

[Click to continue reading on the Vancouver Observer.]

Summer of Heartwood blasts off with new Indiegogo

In 2012, I took a fateful trip to Cortes Island – a northern gulf island three ferry rides away from Vancouver – to document the Cortes community’s fight to fend off an impending logging operation by coastal timber giant Island Timberlands.

Community members took us deep into the woods privately owned by Island Timberlands and showed us the hidden pockets of old-growth that the company was targeting. I was struck by how passionate and knowledgeable these Cortes residents were about the land, sharing a trove of fascinating information about the fungal networks underlying our footsteps and their relationships with the giant trees that were scattered throughout this complex and ancient ecosystem.

[Click to continue reading on the Common Sense Canadian.]

[Click to check out our Indiegogo page.]

The Fight for B.C.'s Central Walbran Valley

The early 1990s was a pivotal time for the forest industry and for forest activism in British Columbia. Massive demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience resulted in hundreds of arrests in Clayoquot Sound in response to large-scale clear-cutting on the west coast of B.C. and Vancouver Island. International protests and market campaigns forced the government to strengthen forestry regulations and establish new parks and protected areas.

One of the most famous stand-offs occurred at a bridge crossing into the Central Walbran Valley, one of the most spectacular ancient temperate rainforests left on Vancouver Island, in Pacheedhat First Nation territory, an hour north of Port Renfrew on bumpy logging roads.

Activists launched blockades, tree-sits, hunger strikes and international demonstrations that forced the B.C. government to create the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park, which protected over 16,000 hectares in the Carmanah and Walbran Valleys. (This conflict was the subject of one of Velcrow Ripper’s early documentaries called “The Road Stops Here.”)

However, for whatever reason, the heart of the watershed — where several streams converge and the biggest and best trees grow — was left out of the park. This relatively small area (only 486 hectares, a little bigger than Vancouver’s Stanley Park) came to be known as “the bite” because if you look at the area on a map, it looks like someone took a bite out of the park.

[Click to continue reading on DeSmog Canada.]