Iisaak Forest Resources is a company that logs only in Clayoquot Sound and is owned by local First Nations.
It was established in 1998 as a joint venture between MacMillan Bloedel (subsequently Weyerhaeuser) and local Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations: Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Toquaht, and Ucluelet. In 2005, these First Nations became the sole owners of Iisaak and Tree Farm License 57.
Iisaak’s logging practices are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Although FSC certification generally means improved environmental, social and economic standards for logging, it does not prohibit logging of old growth forests.
In 1999, Iisaak made a public commitment not to log in certain old growth forests in its tenure in Clayoquot Sound, namely in the valleys that are intact (pristine), untouched by previous logging or other industrial development. This commitment was made recognizing the controversial nature of logging in these intact temperate rainforest valleys, which scientists and environmental organizations have identified as urgent conservation priorities.
From 2000 to 2007, Iisaak logged an average of 45,000 cubic metres of wood per year. The cut varied from a low of 15,000 to a high of 90,000 cubic metres, and fell short of the 115,000 cubic metres annual cut mandated by the province. Since most second growth in Clayoquot is still too young to cut, 80% or more of Iisaak’s logging is in old growth forest.
In late 2006, Iisaak hired Ecotrust, a non-profit organization, as well as Triumph Timber, to manage the faltering company and make it profitable.
Since its inception, Iisaak has aspired to be an innovative “conservation based” forestry company, but to date has not achieved that goal. One barrier is the high volume of logging the province requires. Another is lack of capital to build processing facilities – hence Iisaak sells raw logs instead of higher value manufactured wood products. Consequently, Iisaak has not been able to break free from the high volume-low value-few jobs model of industrial forestry.
Iisaak has acknowledged that after 2009 it will run out of old growth forest to log in the “developed” (partly logged) portions of its tenure, and will need to enter intact valleys to maintain its provincially mandated level of cut. The intact areas in Iisaak’s tenure include Flores Island; Clayoquot, Bulson and Ursus Valleys; Pretty Girl Cove; Sulphur Pass; and part of Sydney Valley.
Iisaak's Tree Farm License 57 in Clayoquot Sound: 87,000 hectares (210,000 acres)
PO Box 489, 331 Neill St., Tofino BC V0R 2Z0
Report: Overview of Logging in Clayoquot Sound 2000-2009 (download page)
Photo by Adrian Dorst
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