North Vancouver Island – some thoughts

The beauty of nature and human exploitation

Compared to South Vancouver Island where we traveled four years ago, we noticed that in the north the provincial parks are side by side with logging and mining, like in a symbiosis. Whereas the parks clearly take advantage of the mining and logging activities.

When we visited the Upper Myra Falls Trail in the Strathcona Provincial Park, the trailhead was adjacent to the active mining site of Nyrstar Westmin. It was kind of disturbing to drive through a park site and see a huge and ugly mining site appearing all of sudden at the end of peaceful Lake Buttel. Add to it that at the beginning of the trail two metal shelters had a sign saying “Danger – Explosives”! Not exactly what one would expect to see in a nature park environment. But at the same time, it is probably fair to say, that quite many of those parks would not benefit of a good and up to date infrastructure if the mining and logging companies were not forced – either by law or to improve their poor reputation – to maintain roads, trails, and campsites.

That specific mine at the end of Lake Buttel exploited copper, gold, and silver and employed around 300 people in this humongous mine site. After our hike, we saw 20-30 workers waiting for a bus to head back to town after work.

Logging, far more than mining, leaves visible scars on the mountains of most of Vancouver Island. As today’s logging is done by patches rather than by erasing a whole hill or mountain, it leaves a strange kind of pattern consisting of no-trees at all, low trees and full grown forest – it looks like a chessboard. Apparently, this is done to allow the harvested parts to recover faster and to decrease the “sad” appearance of completely exploited patches.

It was the same as the Cape Scott Provincial Park. The road to the Cape Scott Trail was an active logging road. We passed big logging trucks, loggers’ housing and several logging sites where all trees were cut down and considerable surfaces were completely flattened.


In the southern part of Vancouver Island, there is logging as well, but it appeared to us to be less visible. Either because we were not noticing it as much or because it was better hidden, for example, in such touristy places like Tofino.

People need to make a living from logging, fishing and mining. The red cedar, Canada’s most precious timber, is exported all over the world. And all over the world Canadian salmon is consumed. So finally, we are all actors within the chain of production and consumption. And we are all responsible for exploiting nature. We can just hope that the “harvesting” of what nature provides is done responsibly. Responsible consumption seems harder to act on.

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