Putting nature ahead of logging companies

DR. ROYANN PETRELL v MINISTER OF FORESTS, LANDS, NATURAL RESOURCE OPERATIONS AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT and TEAL CEDAR PRODUCTS LTD.
Program area – Nature Status: In progress
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Ecojustice is going to court to challenge at least eight road closures that are preventing scientists from documenting and protecting birds and other species in an area rich in old growth forests and biodiversity.

In 2021, B.C.’s ministry of forests granted road closures throughout Tree Farm Licence 46 (TFL 46) – an area that includes the injunction enforcement area established by the B.C. Supreme Court against protests in the vicinity of Fairy Creek.

After receiving approval to close the roads, Teal Cedar Products Ltd. – the company involved in logging in TFL 46 – installed gates and hired a private security firm to operate them.

Since the granting of these closures, many parts of TFL 46 have been cut off.

The ability of citizen-scientists monitoring, studying, and protecting birds and other species to access the area has been significantly impeded. By closing access to roads that have been used regularly by the public, the B.C. government has effectively allowed a logging company to turn wide swathes of public lands into private property.

This includes Ecojustice client Dr. Royann Petrell, Associate Professor Emerita at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Petrell’s work has detected the western screech owl and the marbled murrelet in TFL 46 – both listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act. Her western screech owl detections prompted the B.C. government to send officials into the area to verify findings.

Dr. Petrell would have increased her efforts to document species in TFL 46 if she had not been denied access due to road closures.

Ecojustice will argue that Dr. Petrell – and citizen-scientists like her – should not be prevented from accessing lands at TFL 46.

At a time of a biodiversity crisis, we need scientists like Dr. Petrell to be able carry out their important work of mapping species unimpeded. Logging companies shouldn’t be able to stand in their way.

The B.C. ministry of forests has the authority to close or restrict the usage of roads if property, public health, or public safety might be endangered. However, the ministry granted many of Teal Cedar’s requests to restrict public access for the purpose of “protecting logging operations”. Dr. Petrell’s work is scientific in nature – it in no way inhibits logging operations. When the ministry permitted the road closures, it failed to consider the rights of citizens to access public lands for scientific or other purposes.

Dr. Petrell has no involvement in blockades surrounding the logging at Fairy Creek and should not have been denied access to the area.

By permitting blanket road closures, authorities are effectively putting the interests of resource development and extraction companies before the rights of local people and communities to access public lands.

 

Ecojustice staff

Sean Nixon

Rachel Gutman


Clients/Partners

Dr. Royann Petrell

Key developments

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