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General News · 16th May 2022
Noba Anderson
Please find attached a letter just by me sent to one of Mosaic's two owners, BC Investment and Management Corporation. Another slightly modified version was also sent to their other owner, Alberta Investment Management Corporation and a third directly to Mosaic's senior management. The main body of the letter, minus the attached Forest Celebration summary, is pasted below.

I am writing to you as the elected Regional Director from Cortes Island to the Strathcona Regional District for the last 14 consecutive years. In addition to my own voice, I also speak with the support of many community citizens who have been gathering for the past few months since we learned of Mosaic/Island Timberlands (IT) renewed plans to log on Cortes Island. This is why I am writing to you today. We need your help to find a community benefit alternative to the logging plans that are currently being presented.

Among its many investments, your pension fund (BCi) owns a large percentage of the logging company legally known as Island Timberlands and presented publicly as Mosaic (who also manages the public forest lands held by Timber West). Your fund is one of only two owners of this company, the other being the Alberta Investment and Management Corporation.

This is a “good investment,” because the returns help to ensure the financial security of your many pensioners. It is also a bad investment — because these returns are realised by inflicting permanent damage on watersheds and forests, and thus undermining the long-term security of communities in BC. We trust that your pensioners want both some financial support in their retirement as well as a healthy planet and we are well prepared to reach out to them about the matter below.

Mosaic/IT has recently announced its intention to recommence industrial logging on Cortes Island, home to about 1,000 full time residents. We are asking you to help us convince Mosaic/IT to take a different approach here.

For over 35 years, this small community has pursued alternatives to traditional industrial logging, with dedication and passion. Today we are more than ever committed to this project, given the importance of forests in mitigating our climate crisis. Since 1990, Cortes Island has a consistent history of challenging conventional forest management. We made a sustained effort over many years to obtain a Community Forest Tenure and, through a partnership between the Klahoose First Nation and the settler community (as represented by the Cortes Community Forest Co-op), in 2013 we succeeded in establishing that tenure which provides local employment and models best-practise forestry.

Cortes Island is the site of an ecosystem inventory project initiated in the 1990’s which continues to the present day. Locals have done extensive “ground truthing” work, making detailed maps of watersheds as well as species counts. Cortes Islanders have twice (1990, 2012) successfully resisted industrial logging by direct action, including protests, media campaigns, and physical blockades.

On April 20 this year, the community gathered for a Forest Celebration, sharing the history of our multifaceted, multi-decade work with representatives of Mosaic/IT. Please find attached a short summary of key points from that evening, and from our correspondence with Mosaic/IT. We hope it will give you a sense of the depth and breadth of this community’s commitment to the health of our forests. The event was also recorded and is viewable here.

At Fairy Creek, over 40 Cortes residents participated in the defence of old-growth forests. Some of them are now preparing for what they are calling a “Fairy Creek 2.0” on Cortes if Mosaic/IT shows up to log as planned. Regional networks are also being mobilized. If Mosaic/IT will not negotiate a real alternative to their current harvest plans, direct confrontation seems inevitable.

While Cortes Islanders may succeed a third time in “fighting off” industrial logging in our own backyard, we would far rather put our energy into finding long-term solutions. Ideally, we would like to be a part of creating a replicable model for transitioning other communities towards responsible forest management. Cortes has been a longstanding hub of innovation and education and we want to do this yet again with these lands. We trust that this would be to your benefit as well. Industrial logging is increasingly being exposed as a destructive, net-negative enterprise, and investment in it is becoming a public relations liability.

We have confidence that several Cortes organisations and allies are ready and willing to come to the table in a coordinated way to discuss alternatives with Mosaic/IT. To this end, we are actively working on pulling together a negotiating team and a proposal for the best community stewardship of their private land holdings on our island. We are serious. Ultimately, it looks like our best long-term option is to purchase their entire Cortes holdings and manage our forest locally and sustainably, setting a precedent for other communities on our coast. Some of these lands undoubtedly will be set aside for conservation while others could be stewarded like the community forest lands, used for housing or even much-needed light industrial lands, all of which would benefit this community and the environment infinitely more than what is currently on the table.

We are writing to ask that you support our efforts to create the climate whereby Mosaic/IT will join us in a good-faith effort to develop an alternative model for the Cortes forest land-base. We are asking you to support us in convincing Mosaic/IT to set their logging plans aside and work with us on the local purchase of their Cortes holdings, thereby creating a “win-win” resolution to the current impasse.

Warmly, Noba Anderson
Regional Director, Cortes Island