From:, May 1 2000

Saltspring logging protest will migrate to Germany

Sid Tafler

Protests against clearcut logging on Saltspring Island will move to Victoria, Vancouver and even a German city on the edge of the Bavarian forest.

Saltspringers who are battling the logging of 5,000 acres on the south end--about 10 per cent of the island--have set up a protest camp, raised $500,000 to buy some of the lands and lobbied governments and the companies involved in the logging.

The story began last November, when Texada Land Corp., operated by a group of Vancouver businessmen, bought the large parcels of land from the widow of a German prince, who had owned the property for nearly 40 years.

Texada developed a code of principles, promising to log only second growth forests and protect streams and other environmentally sensitive areas. But the Friends of Saltspring claim the company has broken its promises and is engaged in widespread clearcutting on Mount Tuam, overlooking Fulford Valley and the Fulford ferry terminal.

Islanders have found numerous old growth trees cut down and various water courses damaged by logging. They are also upset at the rate of logging and the size of the clearcuts.

Most of the area is environmentally sensitive and Saltspringers fear widespread logging will spoil the park-like setting of the island which attracts thousands of tourists and vacationers.

But the company is just clearing land for home sites, says Texada owner Robert Macdonald. The logging is at a “moderate level” and many trees are left standing. “Lots of people would clearcut everything--take an 80-acre parcel and leave not a tree.”

Texada is also heavily logging land around Horne Lake near Parksville, and facing opposition from residents and tourist operators. The area is used by boaters, campers, cottage owners, rock climbers and cavers.

On Saltspring, the protest is being carried out on two fronts: people in the protest camp, located on Crown land part-way up Mount Tuam, have blocked logging trucks, climbed trees and chained themselves to logging equipment. There have been several arrests and protesters say they’ve been roughed up by loggers.

Other opponents of the clearcutting are busy phoning, faxing and emailing and meeting in their homes to organize lobby efforts to raise money and pressure the companies involved and the people financing the logging.

“Our mandate is to use public pressure, to make the public aware their money is going to activities like this,” said Ken Lee, a former Saltspring school trustee.

Lee and other protesters have demonstrated at the Vancouver office of Manulife Financial, which holds a $16 million mortgage against the company’s properties. Manulife investors and insurance policy holders would be outraged to see the clearcuts on Saltspring, said Lee.

They plan further actions at the Literary Arts Festival in Victoria in May, sponsored by Manulife, and the International Insurance Society meeting in Vancouver in July, co-hosted by Manulife.

They also plan to work with German environmental groups to pressure Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis at her home in Regensburg, Germany, an historic Bavarian city on the Danube River. The princess holds a $30 million mortgage on the Saltspring land. 

She is heir to a fortune left by her husband, Johannes, XIth Prince of Thurn und Taxis, who was apparently one of the richest men in Europe. He acquired the large parcels of land on Saltspring in 1962 and preserved much of the forest base until his death ten years ago.

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