There are three licensees operating in Phillips Arm:
- Western Forest Products Ltd.
- International Forest Products Ltd. and
The operations of Western Forest Products Ltd. (WFP) are going to have the most negative impact on the Phillips River watershed because this company's Tree Farm License (TFL 39 Block 5) is encompassing the whole watershed. In essence their area is almost equivalent to Kwiakah First Nation's core territory.
Kwiakah's leadership recognized early on that TFL 39 Block 5 is the key to the protection of the whole Phillips watershed eco-system. Starting in 2012 Chief and Council engaged with WFP to negotiate a compromise for any logging activites occuring in TFL 39 Block 5. Unfortunately, all discussions with WFP were in vain and as a result much time (over 4 years) was wasted with no results.
As a last desperate attempt to prevent the company from successfully applying for cutblock permits from the BC Ministry of Forests, Kwiakah First Nation offered to buy out WFP. The Nation was planning on obtaining the harvest rights from WFP and introduce small-scale timber harvest operations for "ethically harvested" timber from Phillips Arm. Such an approach would have required the co-operation of the BC Liberal government to reduce the timber harvest requirements for the area. Kwiakah's strategy would have introduced a novel approach to timber harvesting - an approach that would have the environmental footprint drastically reduced and would be based on solid scientific facts. These new model forest practices would have been developed with the help of international foresters and top-notch academic organizations, specializing in forestry.
Unfortunatley, the WFP executive decided against cooperating and negotiating with Kwiakah First Nation. Instead the company approached the BC government and suggested that Kwiakah's sustainability rights should be infringed upon to support WFP's economic rights. Kwiakah First Nation's sustainability rights are protected under the Canadian Constitution, whereas WFP's economic rights are the result of a license issued by a provincial government.
The collapse of the Phillips watershed eco-system is imminent. Kwiakah First Nation's research cleary shows that any timber harvest activities at the levels proposed by WFP and potentially sanctioned by the current legislation (GBR Land Use Order) will without a doubt have devastating effects on the environment.