Stumps

Old-Growth Logging on Edinburgh Mountain

New logging has commenced on Edinburgh Mountain, an exceptional old-growth forest “hotspot” near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island and the location of Big Lonely Doug (Canada’s second largest Douglas-fir tree) and the spectacular Eden Grove. AFA campaigners visited the cutblock December 15th and were dismayed to find scores of giant trees cut down, including two-meter-wide cedars and an extremely rare, two-meter-wide, old-growth Douglas-fir. Over 15 hectares is being logged by Teal Jones, which adds to the over 75 ha of old-growth forest the company has logged on the mountain since 2016.

Just 50 meters away from the active cutblock stands a Douglas-fir tree that is the 6th widest Douglas-fir tree on record, according to the BC Big Tree Registry, and the 7th widest when including the Alberni Giant in the Nahmint Valley. While the near record-sized tree is located within a Wildlife Habitat Area, it remains vulnerable to future logging. Old-growth hotspots of high conservation and recreational value, like Edinburgh Mountain, are disappearing before our eyes and will be reduced to tattered fragments if action isn’t taken soon. The BC government must enact an immediate halt to logging in hotspots to ensure the largest and best stands of remaining ancient forests are kept intact and develop a science-based plan to protect endangered old-growth forests across BC! Send them an instant message at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/send-a-message

CBC News Coverage on BC's Old-Growth Forests

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.

The stump from a 300+ year old Sitka spruce tree cut near Hadikin Lake on Vancouver Island.

Exposed: New Old-Growth Logging on Edinburgh Mt. Near Port Renfrew

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.

A giant old-growth western redcedar log in a Teal-Jones clearcut on Edinburgh Mt. near Port Renfrew - TFL 46.

Standing among three ancient cedar trees on the edge of new logging operations by Teal-Jones. Edinburgh Mountain is one of the largest contiguous tracts of largely unprotected old-growth forest left on southern Vancouver Island, along with the nearby contentious Central Walbran Valley. It is within the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation band.

Flashback: Gordon River Valley 2009

In today's digital age there's rarely a shortage of new content to share, but that being said, there's always 100 fold more tucked away in giant hard drives, likely never to see the light of day again. So, as a fun and interesting way to share forgotten photos, stories, and moments from years past, I'll be posting 'Flashbacks' from my archives each Friday.

This set of images here is from late 2009 when I'd bought my first 4wd vehicle, a Subaru Loyale wagon, for $1,500 and began exploring the south island's backroads in my spare time looking for big trees and big stumps. These shots are from up high on logging roads in the Gordon River Valley near Port Renfrew. I was definitely pushing it back in those days with the tiny tires on sharp rocks but curiosity will often take you much further than logic and reason. Watch for more photos and snippets from the past each week.

Looking down the Gordon River Valley towards Port Renfrew from the Bugaboo Main region. The valley bottom old-growth forest - where Big Lonely Doug now stands alone in a clearcut - is still visibly intact in the distant center of this photo. I can't help but think how incredible it would have been to have found it back then...