Haida Gwai Forestry Conflicts

Haida resistance to industrial logging in Haida Gwaii, over the past 4 decades has transformed the political and environmental map of Canada.


Since the mid 1970s, industrial logging on Haida Gwaii, an archipelago of over one hundred islands off the northwest coast of British Columbia, has been contested by the Haida Nation and their supporters. Haida Gwaii is home to the world's best remaining stands of cedar, hemlock and Sitka spruce. Many waves of blockades, popular mobilizations, court battles and inter-governmental negotiations have led to significant wins. Forests have been protected, new forms of co-management have been forged and Indigenous rights have been strengthened. Haida resistance has helped bring about treaty recognition for First Nations in Canada. Conflicts have been sparked again and again over industrial over logging, especially of old growth cedar trees. Communities are opposing the flow of logging revenue accruing away from local communities and concerned about impacts to rivers and salmon. The conflict also involves logging companies repeatedly violating existing agreements and quotas. “From at least the mid-1970’s, the Haida have pursued a number of strategies, from participation in cooperative management processes to illegal roadblocks, in order to reclaim control over the forests and waters of Haida Gwaii. Throughout this period the Haida continued to draw links between their opposition to the environmental damage wrought by resource extraction industries and the nature of colonialism in BC” (Dean, 2009). Environmentalists helped raise awareness for this Haida-led struggle (Pynn, 2010). Haida resistance led to the creation of the Gwaii Haanas National Park in 1993 which they co-manage with the federal government. This was the first National Park to be co-managed by the Government of Canada and an Indigenous nation (Dean, 2009). Fifty-two per cent of Haida Gwaii is now in protected areas, while another 18.5 per cent is protected through the Haida Gwaii Land-use Objectives Order (Hudson, 2017). Logging companies continue to violate agreements and new blockades and waves of resistance have arisen as recently as 2018. The B.C. government is still "pursuing profit over culture and community" by selling logging rights on Haida Gwaii without Haida permission(Kurjata, 2017a). 

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Basic Data
NameHaida Gwai Forestry Conflicts
ProvinceBritish Columbia
SiteHaida Gwaii
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesTrees, especially cedar.
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThere has been massive amounts of logging of cedar, hemlock and Sitka spruce trees, including old growth, on Haida Gwai since the 1970s. There have been multiple logging companies involved including Weyerhaeuser and Western Forest Products and multiple contractors including Frank Beban Logging Ltd.

Through decades of resistance and alternative visions by the Haida nation, currently more than half of the area of Haida Gwaii is protected.
Project Area (in hectares)1,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population4,500
Start Date1975
Company Names or State EnterprisesWestern Forest Products from Canada - Had the cutting rights to Lyell Island in the 80s
Frank Beban Logging Ltd. from Canada - Was the contractor for Lyell island cutting in the 80s
Infinity West Enterprises Inc. from Canada - The company won bid for the Nadu River block of land in 2017
Weyerhaeuser from United States of America - Once had Tree Farm Licence on Haida Gwaii
Brookfield Asset Management Inc. from Canada - Previously known as Brascan, thi company help Tree Farm licences in Haida Gwaii
O’Brien & Fuerst Logging from Canada - O’Brien & Fuerst Logging won logging contract in 2016, which was approved by the province but not by the Council of the Haida Nation at the Solutions Table
Husby Forest Products from Canada - Husby was actively logging around Naden Harbour and Eden Lake, until 2011 when they had to cease operations there due to the area becoming a newly protected area. After that they logged at Coliision Point. When protests began at Collision Point, Husby filed an injunction against the protest. A of 2018 Husby Forest Products faced allegations of over-logging on Haida Gwaii. It has stopped all logging operations in disputed areas, and laid off many of its employees.
Relevant government actorsHaida Nation

Federal Government

BC Provincial Government

B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

B.C. Timber Sales

Ministry of Forests

Misty Isles Economic Development Society (MIEDS)

The South Moresby Planning Table

Island Community Stability Initiative
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersHaida Nation


Haida Gwaii Land Protectors


Moresby Island Concerned Citizens

B.C.'s Sierra Club

The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Haida Nation
Haida Gwaii Land Protectors
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
"They set up checkpoints to record the names of people traveling to protected areas, and seized logs on their way out of the designated zones. Feasts were held in various communities on the islands in support of the action and people gathered to show support for the Haida as far away as Toronto and New York" (Dean, 2009)
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion, Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Other Massive destruction of salmon spawning grounds, severe erosion problems.
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
OtherDue to logging, it has become much more difficult to gather traditional foods
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement, based on the concept of ‘Eco-system Based Management’ (EBM), Other protocols such as the reconciliation protocol and other land use agreements.
Development of AlternativesCreation of 1,495-squarekilometre Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, co-managed by the Haida and the Canadian government.

New forms of logging practices and co-management regimes.

The 1985 protests marked the end of one epoch and the beginning of another, an end of the time when governments could ignore First Nations” (Pynn, 2010)
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Old growth forests have been protected, new forms of co-managements have been forged and Indigenous rights have been strengthened. Haida resistance has helped bring about treaty recognition for First Nations in Canada.

Justice is still incomplete as Haida continue to face unwanted logging pressures from companies and government.
Sources and Materials

(Haida Nation v BC, 2004) Haida Nation v British Columbia (Minister of Forests), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 511
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(Mui, 2018) B.C. forestry company responds to over-logging allegations. The Star Vancouver
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(Kurjata, 2017a) On Haida Gwaii, logging plans expose rift in reconciliation. CBC
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(Kurjata, 2017 b) Tension escalates in Haida Gwaii forestry dispute. CBC News
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(Ramsay, 2005) Revolution on Haida Gwaii -Spring’s blockades yield big changes to logging and hunting. The Tyee
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(Hudson, 2018b) Logging protest at Collison Point. Haida Gwaii Observer
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(Husdon, 2018a) Court to rule on Husby injunction against protest at Collison Point. Haida Gwaii Observer
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(Pynn, 2010) Lyell Island: 25 years later. Vancouver Sun
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(Hudson, 2017) Old Massett launches blockade against logging close to New Town. Haida Gwaii Observer
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Media Links

(Tremel, 1985) Loggers confront Haida blockade. CBC Archives
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Other Documents

Haida Gwaii Unceded Territory Sourced from: https://www.facebook.com/haidagwaiilandprotectors/?ref=br_rs
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Logging on Haida Gwaii Sourced from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/haida-gwaii-reconciliation-logging-clear-cut-1.4429532
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Logging on Haida Sourced from: https://haidagwaiitrader.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=278:logging-on-haida-gwaii-shared-perspectives&catid=45:articles&Itemid=121
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Protest at Collison Point / St’alaa Kun Sourced from: https://www.haidagwaiiobserver.com/local-news/b-c-supreme-court-to-decide-on-injunction-against-collison-point-protest/
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Community Forest, Haida Nation Sourced from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/forestry-haida-gwaii-cuts-1.4449770

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Meta Information
ContributorJen Gobby
Last update19/03/2019