Heartwood chronicles a tenacious community on Cortes Island as they stand in opposition to industrial logging and attempt to build a community and ecosystem-based forestry economy.

Citizens on the remote island of Cortes are uniting under a common vision of healthy forests and thriving communities. As one faction of the island launches a blockade against timber giant Island Timberlands, the Klahoose First Nation and the Cortes Forestry Co-Op are leading the push for a Community Forest on much of the island’s Crown lands, which they intend to manage in a sustainable, ecosystem-based model.

Meanwhile, local tourism operators are campaigning to save their industry from the impacts of industrial cut-blocks on the landscape. And renowned mycologist Paul Stamets is investigating how beneficial fungi could be used to renew the soil after a clear-cut. Cortesians are saying NO to industrial logging and YES to sustainable community forestry and ecotourism.

Set against a backdrop of global social unrest, economic turmoil, accelerating climate change, and indigenous awakening, Cortes is a microcosm of a world in crisis. With our ancient forests depleted and the demands of the developing world becoming more and more vociferous, communities are taking a stand against foreign investors with no connection to the land. These citizens will lead us into the woods of Cortes to show us why their forests are worth saving—and how far they’re willing to go to save them.


Production, direction, camera, editing and writing by Daniel J. Pierce (
Site designed and built by Brittany Baxter and Josephine Anderson (
Photos by TJ Watt ( and Island Light Photography (


Google Map


A. The Basil Creek Watershed is a spectacular grove of unlogged, ancient forest with a productive salmon stream running right through the middle. This is the first area on Island Timberland’s cut-block, where the Island Stance group has launched their blockade actions. It also happens to be where the Klahoose First Nation led a successful blockade against Macmillan-Bloedel 20 years ago.

Meet the Locals →




Daniel J. Pierce is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker. He has a history of making films that explore the dynamics of people coming together to create change within their communities, often in defense of the natural world. Dan has a strong interest in expanding this theme to include the complex relations between indigenous and settler communities, as they unite and work together to guard and heal our planet. After centuries of colonization, and amidst a new form of corporate colonization that is going on to this day, these shared efforts represent the start of a long healing process between our cultures.

Dan’s first film, THE HOLLOW TREE, which was licensed to CBC Documentary and Knowledge, piqued his interest in these themes—particularly the rich history of forestry in BC. While his first film was about the citizens of Vancouver trying

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to save a dead tree, it is only logical that his next film would be about people taking a stand for living trees. HEARTWOOD is Dan’s first feature. He has been traveling up to Cortes Island since January 2012, shooting and researching for this film. He will continue to go up to Cortes over the next year to capture this community’s struggle with Island Timberlands and quest for a Community Forest.