A Victoria-based filmmaker is shedding light on B.C.’s coastal forest industry with a new documentary series entitled Heartwood: A West Coast Forest Documentree.
In his series, Daniel J. Pierce highlights coastal communities, like Port Alberni, Cortes Island and Port Hardy, that are uniting to defend the last few pockets of old-growth temperate rainforest on the west coast.
“When I started off it was with the intention to make a single one-off feature length documentary and it all started with me on Cortes Island.”
After graduating from Simon Fraser University on the mainland, Pierce was on assignment reporting for the Vancouver Observer about Cortes Island residents’ efforts to try and stop Island Timberlands from logging on the Island.
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After speaking with community members, Pierce learned about their visions for creating a community forest and sustainable forestry. “I knew that wasn’t the end of the story for me so the next place that was suggested to me was Port Alberni because that’s sort of where Island Timberlands was most actively logging,” Pierce said. “People on Cortes started connecting me with some of the people in the Watershed Forest Alliance.”
In his film, Pierce follows Port Alberni activists, like Jane Morden and her daughter, through their efforts of trying to oppose Island Timberlands’ logging around the Alberni Valley, particularly on McLaughlin Ridge in the China Creek watershed.
“Walking through the forest around Port Alberni was really eye opening to see the scale of logging that was going on there and how they were targeting those last few pockets of old growth Douglas Fir in the Alberni Valley,” Pierce said.
Heartwood’s message aims to highlight a clear vision for an alternative forestry model that seeks to maximize value rather than volume, that gives more control over local forestlands to communities and First Nations and that balances community values such as tourism, employment, old growth, watersheds, wildlife and recreation.
The film also features characters from up and down the coast such as mayors, including Port Alberni mayor Mike Ruttan, MLAs, regional directors, First Nations chiefs and coastal community members.
“It’s not all about Island Timberlands, it’s more about the big picture of private managed forest lands on the coast,” Pierce said. “The issues that are really specific to the coast like log exports.”
Heartwood will be Pierce’s third long-form documentary. His one-hour documentary The Hollow Tree has recently been renewed for another four years on the Knowledge Network.
“I’m almost done shooting [Heartwood] it’s like 90 per cent done,” Pierce said.
“Although I could probably shoot it for another four years.”
Pierce hopes to release his pilot episode in the midst of the 2017 B.C. election campaign to “make a splash during election season and maybe help put forestry issues back on the political agenda.”
“I definitely think that whether we’re talking about politics or coverage in the media, forestry stories have sort of taken a back seat,” Pierce said.
Pierce and the Heartwood team are currently in the middle of a final crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise final funds to help complete the series that is about to move into the post-production phase. They have raised more that $10,000 to date. To learn more about Heartwood and the campaign at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/heartwood-forest-guardians-of-cortes-island#/