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.
The Fall issue of British Columbia Magazine has hit the newsstands and it includes a great feature article titled An Old-Growth Battlefield - Can We Save Our Ancient Matriarchs? by Hans Tammemagi. I spent 3 days with Hans, touring him around Port Renfrew to places like the Avatar Grove, Big Lonely Doug, Eden Grove, the San Juan Spruce, and the Central Walbran Valley. Happy to see three of my images featured in print as well! Grab a copy if you can :)
The chorus is growing!! The Union of BC Municipalities voted last week to support a resolution calling on the provincial government to end old-growth logging on Vancouver Island and amend the outdated 1994 land-use plan. This comes on the heels of the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities passing the same resolution and the BC Chamber of Commerce, representing 36,000 businesses across the province, passing a similar resolution. The BC Liberal government is now out on it's own in supporting the destruction of the island's last endangered old-growth ecosystems.
- Read the press release here: www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1057
- Read the Vancouver Sun article here: http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-municipalities-support-vancouver-island-push-to-save-old-growth-forests
- See before and after maps and stats here: www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
I recently had the pleasure of touring a journalist from Victoria's Shaw TV to both Big Lonely Doug and the spectacular, yet endangered Eden Grove right next door. Check out the two resulting news pieces below, which also feature some of my drone clips and new video from my trail camera of a black bear climbing a giant cedar tree!
Today I'm excited to have launched a new video which I filmed and edited featuring the Ancient Forest Alliance and Arboreal Collective's second climb up Big Lonely Doug, Canada's 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree! Doug has become the educational mascot of BC’s endangered old-growth forests - his massive size highlights their grandeur, while the dramatic contrast of the surrounding clearcut highlights the threat to them posed by industrial logging. The drone footage, captured using the DJI Phantom 3 Pro, of tree climbers (thanks to Matthew, Aaron, and Elliot!) in this sobering setting will help us raise the public awareness needed to pressure the BC government to protect what remains of the adjacent Eden Grove and endangered old-growth forests across British Columbia, and to ensure a sustainable second-growth forest industry instead.
- See and share the video with over 55,000 views on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/ancientforestalliance/videos/1094270450667541/
- See photos from the climb here: www.tjwatt.com/big-lonely-doug-2016/
- Global News: Drone video captures epic climb up Canada’s second-largest Douglas-fir
- CHEK TV: Spectacular video released of three climbers scaling one of the largest and most famous trees in Canada
- Times Colonist: From scientists to activists, everyone has eye in the sky
Here's the slideshow I created for Raincoast Education Society's Capturing the Coast 2016 photo event in Tofino! It includes images of the many magnificent places I've visited along the west coast of Vancouver Island from Sooke to the Brooks Peninsula and everywhere in between. It also highlights however the reality that some of these incredible areas are sadly still endangered - a fact that I feel can't be ignored. The coastal landscapes of Vancouver Island are among the most beautiful and precious on planet Earth. Let's do all that we can to keep them that way. *Be sure to watch full screen with sound.
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.
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.