"The Haisla people feel deeply that the Kawesas is not a place to be logged. The Kawesas produces resources each and every year; if it were logged, we cannot predict whether those resources would return. There's not enough money in the world to get this place back to what it was if it were to be logged.
"We want to say that we are proud of Ecotrust for the way they have helped us. I am sure that as we continue to walk with them, we will see most of the things that we have dreamed about together come to pass.
"It is important that First Nations fight to protect their territories. That is why the Kitamaat Village Council and the Nanakila Institute are training young Haisla people to look after our territory and take care of it. I agree with what Gerald Amos and others have said: We are not doing this just for ourselves, but for the people of the world."
—Chaqweekash (Ken Hall), Hereditary Chief of the Kawesas territory
March 1996 marked the creation of Huchsduwachsdu Nuyem Jees, the Kitlope Heritage Conservancy Protected Area, a 783,000 acre area at the heart of the greater Kitlope ecosystem to be jointly managed in perpetuity by the Haisla Nation and the provincial government of British Columbia.
The adjacent Kawesas River drainage, an integral part of the greater Kitlope ecosystem and an area of cultural importance to the Haisla, was inexplicably excluded from the protected area, and in May 1996 the West Fraser Timber Company announced plans to log in the Kawesas forests within the next five years.
With support from the Haisla Nation, the Nanakila Institute and Ecotrust Canada, Ecotrust conducted an unprecedented multidisciplinary assessment of this still-pristine 100,000-acre watershed and published The Kawesas Watershed Assessment, offering compelling scientific support to the Haisla Nation's contention that non-extractive economic, biological, and cultural values exceed logging values in the Kawesas.
In this report, watershed assessment, typically a tool for guiding timber harvest activities or for quantifying the damage of logging, was implemented for perhaps the first time to study a pristine landscape on behalf of conservation.
The Kawesas Watershed Assessment
© 1996 Ecotrust