SpruceRoots Magazine - February 2002

SpruceRoots Magazine - April 2002

The Haida Protected Areas

Click here for a map of the Protected Areas

by Ian Lordon

Over the years, usually in response to logging pressure, the Council of the Haida Nation has identified certain areas of Haida Gwaii which are of particular cultural significance. These places have come to be known as ‘Haida Protected Areas’ and for the most part have been left alone to meet the continuing cultural and societal needs of Haida people.

The Protected Areas account for roughly 250,000 hectares of land on Haida Gwaii, of which 51,000 hectares is what the Ministry of Forests refers to as ‘operable timber.’ The trees in the Protected Areas could provide ten years of work for the local logging industry at the current rate of cut. But for the Haida, most of these areas are valued for their spiritual, cultural, and environmental values.

None of the Protected Areas have been granted formal recognition by the BC or federal governments except for Duu Guusd — a 150,000 hectare section of northwest Graham Island which was rendered ineligible for timber harvesting thanks to a temporary cabinet order issued by the BC government and due to expire this year.

While Duu Guusd is spared for now, many of the remaining thirteen Protected Areas are subject to intense development pressure as logging companies struggle to find enough wood to meet their cut quotas. Recently, the Ministry of Forests has shown signs it is less inclined to avoid issuing cutting permits in the areas than it was in the past.

Last year the Ministry approved forest development plans with cutblocks in the second largest protected area — the Tlell River watershed, as well as the last undeveloped watershed in Skidegate Inlet — Government Creek. Both watersheds were supposed to be subject to a public planning process with community representation prior to development, but for the time being at least, the Ministry is not pursuing this former commitment.

Grey Bay/Cumshewa Inlet, Kootenay Inlet, and Security Inlet are three more Protected Areas facing immediate development pressure, while the final eight areas – the Yakoun Lake watershed, Yakoun River Corridor, Naden Harbour/Masset Inlet, Kumdis Slough, Kitgoro/Niisii, Kaisun Village, Kano, and Carew Bay – are being left alone for now.

SpruceRoots Magazine - April 2002