Wilderness Committee back in court to fight injunction

Image from Wilderness Committee

Image from Wilderness Committee

Victoria – Lawyers from Ecojustice are in court seeking to prevent or constrain an injunction application being brought by logging company Teal Jones.

The Surrey-based company is applying for a court order to stop protesters from interfering with its logging operations in the Walbran Valley old-growth forest on Vancouver Island.

The Wilderness Committee, which has been wrongly named as a blockade organizer by the logging company, wants the injunction to be denied or constrained because as currently proposed, it would hinder law-abiding citizens from accessing the rare old-growth rainforest.

“Teal Jones knows that cutting down old-growth rainforest is indefensible and that they’ve got zero public support, so they are trying to block public access to Walbran Valley,” said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “Citizens have a right to witness what’s happening in the woods, and that’s what we’re fighting for today.”

Teal Jones has been logging in the area since early November, and was first granted a temporary injunction preventing interference with its logging at the end of November. In mid-December this temporary injunction expired and the company sought a stronger injunction that would have remained in force for nine months. But the court refused, instead granting only a temporary injunction with limited powers to last until January 4, 2016.

Despite the rejection, Teal Jones is back in court today to re-apply for a stronger, longer-lasting injunction in a bid to quell public protest of old-growth logging in the Walbran Valley.

Since learning of Teal Jones’ plans to target the best remaining old-growth forests in the Walbran Valley in May 2015, Wilderness Committee activists have visited the valley regularly to document the rare ancient forest, collect photos and video and monitor any logging activity. The Wilderness Committee does not plan or participate in civil disobedience of any kind and has had no connection to blockades in the area.

However, the Wilderness Committee has undertaken an extensive public advocacy campaign, hosting rallies and public meetings, launching petition and letter-writing drives, and organizing information sessions, banner drops and other events.

“There aren’t many forests in the world like the Walbran, and we can’t afford to liquidate these rare ecosystems for private profit,” Coste said. “Teal Jones needs to understand this, and the Government of BC also needs to show responsibility and start serving the public on this.”

The Wilderness Committee is calling on BC Forest Minister Steve Thomson to cancel logging permits in the Central Walbran Valley and engage with stakeholders on solutions. Minister Thomson has ignored over 7,000 letters from citizens asking him to take action on the Walbran.