See the latest CBC article about the battle for old-growth forests in BC: Money Trees - The struggle over what’s ancient, giant, valuable and dwindling in B.C.’s coastal forests
Myself and Ken Wu spent two days with journalists, taking them on an old-growth bushwhack and through clearcuts on southern Vancouver Island.
*Take note of some additional relevant facts while reading:
1) Beyond their aesthetic appeal, old-growth forests offer a host of values that second-growth tree plantations do not. They support unique and endangered species that can't flourish in second-growth (like spotted owls and mountain caribou) and are vital for tourism, clean water, wild salmon, carbon storage, and many First Nations cultures.
2) Almost the entire western world is only logging second or third-growth forests. We can and should make the full, inevitable transition to a second-growth forest industry BEFORE the last of the unprotected old-growth is logged...and quickly.
3) The BC government’s and logging industry’s stats on the status of old-growth are deceptive. Of the 520,000 hectares of old-growth that the BC government says are off-limits to logging on Vancouver Island, less than 200,000 hectares are considered productive old-growth forests and are commercially valuable. The rest consists of stands with much smaller, stunted trees at higher elevations, on steep rocky slopes, and in bogs that lack the species richness and large trees of the productive forests. Almost 79% of the productive old-growth forests on Vancouver Island have already been logged - about 1.6 million hectares out of 2 million hectares originally. For stats and maps visit https://bit.ly/2QHJAvo
4) Independent, family operated mills are not representative of the coastal forest industry. Many have been forced to close due to increases in log exports, corporate concentration, and the depletion of the biggest, best, accessible stands of ancient trees over the past 20 years. Western Forest Products, Island Timberlands, TimberWest, Teal-Jones…these are overwhelmingly the companies responsible for the vast majority of the cut on Vancouver Island.
5) The “forestry workers who want jobs vs. environmentalists who love big trees” is largely a tired old division of the 1980’s and 90’s that we have worked hard as conservationists to bridge the gap on. One of the main forestry unions, the Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC), representing thousands of Vancouver Island sawmill and pulp mill workers, have called for an end to old-growth logging on Vancouver Island and we’ve worked closely with forestry workers to end raw log exports, ensure a value-added second-growth forestry transition, and to save old-growth for almost two decades now.
6) Economic studies have shown that old-growth forests have a greater economic value standing than for logging when factoring in tourism, clean water and fisheries, non-timber forest products like wild mushrooms and berries, carbon value, and recreational value in southern BC. This is more true today than ever. Port Renfrew and Tofino are shining examples of communities whose economies have vastly benefited from standing, living ancient forests.
CBC Kids News: Should old-growth forests be protected? This photo gallery features some of my images of big trees and giant stumps as well.
Take a few minutes to read this new, in-depth article by good friend and filmmaker Daniel J Pierce on the crisis in BC's forests and where we need to head. Comments from Valerie Langer, Adam Olsen, Arnold Bercov, Vicky Husband, Herb Hammond, and Ken Wu. It also features some of my photos from across Vancouver Island. Article: https://thenarwhal.ca/25-years-after-clayoquot-sound-blockades-the-war-in-the-woods-never-ended-and-its-heating-back-up/
Standing in line at the grocery store or waiting at the doctor's office, I never guessed that one of my photos would end up in a Reader's Digest, but this shot of Matthew Beatty climbing Big Lonely Doug is featured in the latest issue with a story by Harley Rustad. I wonder if Doug knows just how famous he's become?
I'm excited to share the new documentary Giant Tree Hunters about the efforts to find and protect Canada's largest trees and grandest old-growth temperate rainforests on Vancouver Island! The film features the activities of Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners Ken Wu and myself; forest ecologists Dr. Andy MacKinnon and Dr. Sally Aitken of the BC Big Tree Registry; and tree climbers Matthew Beatty and Damien Carre of Expedition Old Growth. It was produced by Nootka St. Film Company for Telus Optik TV. Huge thanks to everyone who brought this project to life!
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.
The Walrus Magazine has recently published a story about Big Lonely Doug, the forestry worker Dennis Cronin who decided to leave him standing, and the battle for old-growth forests on Vancouver Island. The article by Harley Rustad features two of my photos, along with one from Dennis which shows the tree standing in the forest (never thought I would see that view!). Let's hope Doug's message is heard loud and clear and we save his old-growth friends who remain endangered on Edinburgh Mt. and across BC. Read the article here: https://thewalrus.ca/big-lonely-doug/
Here are some behind the scenes shots from my time showing writer Harley Rustad around to Big Lonely Doug and the adjacent Eden Grove, one of Vancouver Island's most spectacular and endangered ancient forests that was once part of the forest around Doug.
Below are images featuring recent old-growth logging on Edinburgh Mt. near Port Renfrew. It took a 17km round-trip hike up the steepest roads I've encountered on the island to access the area, which is on the mountainside above Big Lonely Doug. What we found were two old-growth clearcuts, totaling 34 hectares (almost 40 football fields) in size. Dozens of old-growth western redcedars - some of them 8 feet in diameter -, yellow cedar, western and mountain hemlocks, and very rare, old Douglas-firs (between 500 to 1000 years in age) have been logged. How much further will the BC government allow this industry to go? Plans for four new old-growth clearcuts, one approved and three pending approval, and an expanded road network are also underway. It would seem that no place is currently deemed too rare or important in the destructive race to log the island's last endangered old-growth forests before we have a chance to see them saved. Ecosystems that have taken millennia to form, erased in a blink of an eye, never to be seen again.