Friends of Clayoquot Sound was established in Tofino in 1979 in response to the logging activity on nearby Meares Island. The small group of activists set their sights on protecting Clayoquot Sound’s ancient temperate rainforest as a globally rare ecosystem.
In 1984, FOCS joined the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht First Nations in one of the first logging blockades in Canada to prevent the logging of Meares Island. MacMillan Bloedel held the rights to clear cut 90% of Meares Island at the time. As a result of the peaceful blockade direct action and the court injunction that followed, Meares Island was protected and declared a Tribal Park by Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. Today Meares Island remains unlogged, providing the drinking water for Tofino, and the centrepiece for Tofino’s tourism economy.
FOCS led blockades in 1988 and 1992, stopping an illegal logging road in Sulphur Pass, and protesting against MacMillan Bloedel’s logging on the edge of intact Clayoquot River valley. Responding to the B.C. Government’s decision to allow logging in 74% of Clayoquot Sound’s ancient rainforests, FOCS organized the largest peaceful civil disobedience protest in Canadian history, in collaboration with other environmental groups. In 1993, the Peace Camp in the “Black Hole” clear-cut was established. Daily blockades and arrests on a logging road near Kennedy River Bridge took place during the “war in the woods”. Over 12,000 people attended the “Clayoquot Summer” blockade, where 856 were arrested and charged for protecting the ancient rainforest.
The blockades brought Clayoquot Sound and the issue of temperate rainforest destruction to world attention. FOCS held MacMillan Bloedel publicly accountable which helped position the regional Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of Clayoquot and Barkley Sound to eventually buy out the logging company and attain control of the tree farm licences in Clayoquot Sound. However, the B.C. Government’s outdated forestry system required the First Nations’ owned company, MaMook, to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual fees to hold the “rights to log”. To ensure the logging licences were retained by MaMook, the company was coerced into logging their First Nations’ territories to finance “the rights to log” to service the annual payment required by the B.C. Government.
In 2006, FOCS, Greenpeace, Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club, and Stand (formerly Forest Ethics) formed the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance (CSCA) to support discussions with regional First Nations about protecting the intact valleys through conservation investment. Since then, FOCS has worked continuously towards permanent protection by supporting local First Nations in securing conservation investments privately and through governments.
For 2019, we were honoured to congratulate the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations for securing a key federal commitment to advance their land-use visions in Clayoquot Sound. FOCS look forward to hearing more details from both the federal and provincial governments of their support for this reconciliation-based conservation investments initiative to safeguard the ancient communities and rainforests of this iconic region.