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Fine increased 11-fold for B.C. logger who illegally took wood from Great Bear Rainforest

The Ministry of Forests determined that most of Timothy Holland’s harvest sites were outside his licence area.
Bear - Southern GBR
A bear meanders through the southern end of the Great Bear Rainforest.

A logger has been hit with a $132,000 fine for illegal harvesting in B.C.’s North Coast, after initially being fined $12,000.

According to a recent Forest Appeals Commission ruling, Timothy Holland — doing business as Bigfoot Forest Products — was given a licence in 2016 to harvest damaged timber in a section of the Great Bear Rainforest within the traditional territory of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.

In June 2019, the Ministry of Forest was notified that Holland was taking timber from outside the harvest area. However, no action was taken “due to resourcing constraints.”

Then, in June 2020, a Wei Wai Kum First Nation member reported a suspicious timber salvage operation in a restricted forest area and a Ministry of Forests investigation began.

On Oct. 6, 2020, Holland was ordered to stop work, after which he left threatening voice messages with ministry staff.

The Ministry of Forests determined that most of Holland’s harvest sites were outside his licence area. In six of those sites, standing trees had been felled and some of the sites were of significance to the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.

The Great Bear Rainforest is the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest and makes up the coastal areas from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border.

In September 2021, Holland was fined $12,000 for removing Crown timber without permission. This fine was levied by the Ministry of Forests.

Subsequently, the Forest Practices Board appealed the ruling to the commission, asking the fine be increased on the basis was that it was so low that Holland would still make a huge profit from the illegally harvested cedar. It was determined that he had earned around $226,500 from the timber from unlicensed sites, with the commission noting that this value did not include the intrinsic worth the cedar had to the Wei Wai Kum.

The commission found “that Mr. Holland … directed his employees to cut and remove timber outside of his authorized area, and did so deliberately and repeatedly.”

It went on to state he “likely harvested trees in areas that were excluded from his authorized area due to their archeological value; harvested in areas that had cultural significance to the Wei Wai Kum; harvested standing old growth cedar trees which provide biological benefits to the forest; left threatening messages for Ministry personnel during the investigation; and did not meet the standard expected of a licensee.”

Holland did not defend himself in the hearing and issued only one statement — “kiss my ass” — to the B.C. government.

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