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.
In early summer of this year I went for a drive up to the headwaters of Camper Creek in the hills behind Port Renfrew. The road (GR 2000) ended at a deep ditch and a big rock wall but up to the left were signs of recent old-growth logging by Teal-Jones. The cutblock didn't appear like much from the road but upon further inspection it revealed its sad truth. Giant redcedar stumps, some up to 12ft wide, littered the clearcut while slash debris choked the landscape and former creeks. It can be hard to imagine what a forest like this would have looked like just prior to it being logged but a short hike into the neighbouring woods painted a clear picture of the incredible natural beauty and sensitive ecosystem that was lost. Despite current maps and stats that clearly show old-growth forests are highly endangered, the BC Liberal government continues approve cutblocks in forests like these across Vancouver Island and southern BC. And though one can argue that trees will come back, the ensuing second-growth tree plantations (which are typically re-logged every 30-70 years) do not adequately replicate the highly complex and diverse old-growth forests which are lost. Once they're gone, they're gone.
I've been a little absent from posting on here over the last while but I've been out in the field shooting a lot and gathering new work. I'll be playing catch up over the next few weeks, sharing with you images of the large-scale old-growth logging that still continues here on Vancouver Island. About 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have already been logged on BC’s southern coast, including over 90% of the valley-bottom ancient forests where the largest trees grow - we have very little time left to save what remains. By continuing to capture and share these photos and maps, I hope to put a tangible face to these remote but incredible valleys and groves. Today's post features old-growth logging by Western Forest Products up road W730 in the Walbran Valley.