Blog 6: Discovering Coastal Temperate Rainforests in Canada 

Forest Covered with Moss (© Morten Bo Johansson)© Morten Bo JohanssonFSC Denmark annually hosts a Design Award competition for Danish design and architecture students based on their use of wood and sustainable practices. The winner of the 2014 FSC Denmark Design Award, Sigrid Juel Jensen, has won a trip to Canada, where she will visit FSC-certified forests, develop a version of her winning design at a local workshop and get a close look at FSC and responsible forest management in Canada.

Today, we will look into one of Haida Gwaii’s major industries - forestry. We will meet with representatives from Taan Forest and take a tour of their FSC-certified forest. Compared to the small private forest we visited in Nova Scotia, Taan’s forest is certainly on a larger industrial scale. Geared up with a hardhat and work vest we set out into the forest. 

We look out over a harvested area. We are told that when harvesting trees, Taan needs to keep an eye out for Culturally Modified Trees (CMTs).   CMTs in British Columbia are typically western red cedar trees, like the ones used to build totem poles in Skedans yesterday, and are more than 120 cm in diameter. Once a tree is identified as a Culturally Modified Tree, it and the area around it are preserved. The Haida have traditionally used these trees to build longhouses, canoes and totem poles.  


Taan logs large areas at a time. This means that they actively have to replant. Reforestation is done with a special extra emphasis on getting more cedar trees in the woods, but otherwise done after analysis of what would naturally be the composition of wood species. We ask why logging is done in bigger areas at a time. In addition to the obvious economic benefit, we get examples of experiments in which they have harvested in small areas at a time. The result was that the trees that had not been cut down, fell in great numbers in one of Haida Gwaii’s many storms. The trees can be quite vulnerable to wind, when you open the forest up here.

Another World

We move from the hot and dry harvested areas into the more pristine parts of the forest.  It is like stepping into another world. Here the moss is like thick carpets on fallen trees. Branches and plants hang from the trees and grow in wild formations.  We reach an enormous cedar, which has a hole of about 15 cm in the trunk. The hole is where someone has taken samples of the tree to see if they would be suitable for a cultural uses e.g. a canoe or totem pole. For one reason or another, this tree never used and is now protected.

Canoes in the Forest

Further into the forest we see two traditional Haida canoes that have been left on the forest floor before they were finished. They are immensely intact and shows why cedar was so popular with Haida people – it’s really durable. One can only guess at why they were never finished.  "It is as if time stands still in this part of the forest," says Sigrid. "These majestic trees that have stood for hundreds of years and will continue to do that and then it's just amazing with all the debris from Haida culture, located and actually still in a good condition due to the properties of cedar " she concludes.

Bear Caves

We continue further into the forest. Everything is green and mossy. Here we see a tree hollowed out to bear dwelling.  "You go a little into the animals' territory here," says Sigrid. "It's crazy to see the bear caves and you do not just whether there are bears nearby. It's kind of a strange world, " she continues. "But it's also wildly privileged that they would take us in here and see things in the wilderness. The kind you would never even be able to do".

Plants, in addition to cedars, which have importance to the Haida, are also preserved. One of these is the devil's club plant, which has traditionally been used as medicine and used against bad dreams and spirits. 

Forest Fact: 

The word ‘Taan’ in Haida means ‘bear’..

What’s next for Sigrid? 

Read Blog #7 for Sigrid's last blog entry and completion of her design.  

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000205