Police used jackhammers and pickaxes on Wednesday as they tried to remove a group of protesters who had secured themselves to the ground in a demonstration against old-growth logging on Vancouver Island.
More than 30 RCMP officers were on scene on Braden Road near Port Renfrew as they tried to extract five people who had partially buried themselves in the logging road.
The demonstrators said they were there because they felt a moral responsibility to protect the Fairy Creek watershed’s ancient trees from logging by the Teal-Jones Group on certain areas of its 595-square-kilometre tenure on southwest Vancouver Island.
Emily Kane was one of the five arrested at the site on Wednesday.
“We would hope to enact political change. That is what we would like to see — policy change,” she told CBC News.
Access to the protest site was tightly controlled by RCMP, who have set up a series of barricades along the road. People describing themselves as legal observers said they were denied access, while members of the media required a police escort.
RCMP are enforcing a court injunction ordering the removal of a series of blockades set up by the protesters.
They say 55 people were arrested on Tuesday after they gathered along a forest service road west of Lake Cowichan. Nine of those taken into custody had been arrested in previous days.
The Mounties say more than 100 people have been arrested since enforcement of the court injunction began last week to allow workers with the Teal-Jones Group to resume logging.
Activists say very little of the best old-growth forest remains in B.C. and Fairy Creek is the last unprotected, intact old-growth valley on southern Vancouver Island.
Teal-Jones has said it plans to harvest about 20 hectares at the north ridge of the 1,200-hectare watershed out of 200 available for harvest.