In his new 8 minute documentary titled No Degree of Scarcity, renowned US filmmaker Joe Callander highlights Big Lonely Doug and old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. Joe came to the island for a brief stint and followed myself and Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance through the clearcut around Big Lonely Doug by Edinburgh Mountain and to the Walbran Valley. He also spoke with Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce president Dan Hager about old-growth forests and the local economy. The video includes some of my photography and drone footage as well. Thanks to Joe for taking this time to cover this story. You can see more of his films here.
Today marks the anniversary of the protection of the Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew! In February 2012, after a 2-year campaign spearheaded by the Ancient Forest Alliance with support from the public, the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce and the local business community, this magnificent ancient forest was declared off-limits to logging through an Old-Growth Management Area. This was an incredible moment as shortly after I first came across the area in 2009 during a big tree expedition, it was flagged and marked for logging by Teal Jones.
The Ancient Forest Alliance began construction of the Avatar Grove Boardwalk in 2013 in order to protect the tree roots and understory vegetation from foot traffic, enhance visitor access and safety, and support the local eco-tourism economy. It's been an inspiration to lead this project and connect with the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who've worked long and hard to bring the boardwalk to life.
Avatar Grove has since become a catalyst helping to shape the fate of endangered old-growth forests across BC. Several Chambers of Commerce, led by the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce and culminating in May 2016 with the BC Chamber of Commerce, have called on the province to increase the protection of BC's old-growth forests to support the economy.
Unfortunately, damage to the Avatar Grove Boardwalk due to hurricane-force winds in an October 2016 storm has delayed the completion launch of the Avatar Grove Boardwalk until this spring. Support is still required to fully complete the boardwalk with these necessary repairs - please volunteer or donate if you can to help us complete this important project! https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/boardwalk-donation.php
2010 seems like a long time ago now but there was very real a time where the future of Avatar Grove remained highly uncertain. Below are a few old photos from when the grove was first surveyed for logging by Teal Jones in that same year. With the paint faded and the flagging tape mostly gone from the trees today, many visitors are unaware of the area's troubled past. These images help remind me to remain grateful each time I visit that we could have lost this irreplaceable forest.
I've been a little obsessed with watching the Anna's hummingbirds go about their day in my backyard this past year. We've recently had a lot of snow and cold weather here on Vancouver Island but these little guys manage to stick it out! Since the snow was supposed to melt by tomorrow, I decided I would try to capture a shot of a male with some snowflakes around him. It's really hard to get close enough without scaring them though so I made a makeshift blind out of a tent fly and it actually worked! I'd love to try perfecting this technique, especially if it snows again. I would start by making the blind more comfortable to sit in that's for sure! I have profound respect for photographers who have logged days, weeks, even months sitting stationary in a blind, muscles cramping in uncomfortable positions waiting for the perfect shot. It's difficult on so many levels but well worth the effort in the end!
In what is the largest leap forward in old-growth forest protection on Vancouver Island in decades, the Ahousaht First Nation band recently announced their land use plan vision that prohibits industrial logging, mining, and oil and gas development in 82% of their 170,000 hectare territory while supporting sustainable economic development in selected areas. Their territory in Clayoquot Sound near Tofino is home to the largest tracts of old-growth forests of any Vancouver Island band. I'm deeply grateful for the incredible leadership shown by the members of this community and for the hard work of the conservation organizations involved as well. Knowing that wild places like the Sydney Valley (pictured above) have finally been declared safe is an amazing feeling. It's nice to have some good news every once and a while.
- Ahousaht First Nation's press release with maps: www.mhssahousaht.ca/news/press-release-ahousaht-land-use-vision
- STAND.earth's press release: www.stand.earth/latest/ahousaht-announcement
- DeSmog Canada article featuring my photo: www.desmog.ca/2017/01/27/first-nation-just-banned-industrial-logging-and-mining-vancouver-island-territory
- Times Colonist news article: www.timescolonist.com/business/island-first-nation-bans-mining-and-clearcutting-1.9279987
Well, it has been another incredible year, jam-packed with new adventures, discoveries, and photos! It's hard to pick favourites from it all but here are my personal top 16 from 2016. Do you have a favourite image? Let me know in the comments below! A huge thanks goes out to the amazing groups and individuals that I've worked with this past year and to all those who have supported my work. It wouldn't be the same with out you! For those who might be interested, prints of most these images are available in my online store as well. Here's to a happy, healthy, and wild 2017! TJ.
A male Anna's hummingbird sits perched on the branch of a cedar tree. After closely watching this little guy's patterns early each morning, I noticed he tended to land in a few particular places. So, with the hopes of capturing an image of him in his natural setting, I carefully set up my camera with remote shooting and began to stare at the branch for the next 4 hours. Getting the timing and focus just right was extremely tough but after some narrowly missed attempts, it finally worked out! It took a lot of patience and planning to create this image but I'm really happy with it and have a newfound love for this beautiful bird. Click here to order a print of this image.
Canon 5D MK4 | 100mm 2.8L IS Macro lens | 1/400 sec | f/3.5 | ISO 1600.
An Anna's hummingbird pauses in flight early this frosty morning. Weighing about as much as a nickle, their wings beat from 40-50 times per second while their heart beats around 1,220 times per minute! Amazing little birds.
This is the first image I’ve captured using the new Canon 5D MKIV’s WiFi feature, which allows you to adjust settings, see live view, & shoot remotely from your phone. That let me stand inside the house and avoid disturbing the bird. Quite an awesome feature! It meant pre-focusing the image though and then hoping that the bird would pause for an instant in that razor-thin plane of focus. In the end, one shot worked! Exposure: 1/4000 sec, f/3.5, ISO 3200. Canon 100mm f2.8L macro lens.