8/31/2012

Logging In Walbran Valley May Threaten Champion Red Cedar

The Castle Giant (5 meter diameter, and registered Champion), is a Western red-cedar in the unprotected
Upper Walbran Valley, that may be threatened by logging. photo: T.J. Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance
The wilderness of Vancouver Island is an unusual landscape where industrial clear cuts boarder shrinking areas of pristine old growth.

On one side, the sounds of chain saws, helicopters, and monster trucks carrying now-inert ancient trees; and on the other, mist floating through a 10,000 years old ecosystem, wetting the rain coast undergrowth. Pileated woodpeckers call from the fluted trunks of massive thousand year old cedars.

I have not visited the big trees of Vancouver Island's back country as much as I would like this past summer. Considering that, I appreciate the work of the people who are out 'in the bush', navigating dusty washboard gravel roads shared with loaded logging trucks, to visit the old growth and report back to the rest of us.

The adventurous forests defenders of Victoria-based Ancient Forest Alliance are examples of individuals that are acting as our eyes in endangered old growth rain forest areas. They drive to rough and rugged foggy places where few dare to tread (although more all the time), and often the information they bring back is vital and disturbing.

One of their most recent field trips was no different.
"Members of the Ancient Forest Alliance found the tape in the Upper Walbran Valley, near Castle Grove, which contains the Castle Giant, a western red cedar with a five-metre diameter. The tree is listed in the provincial big tree registry as one of the widest in Canada.
“Castle Grove is ground zero for the ancient forest movement on southern Vancouver Island, both historically and today,” said Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director. “To try and log it is insanity — it will only escalate the war in the woods to a whole new level,” he said.
The logging tape, marked “falling boundary,” is less than 50 metres from the Castle Giant, said Alliance campaigner TJ Watt who discovered the tape." - read more here
It seems that no one in government, or the company that operates in the area (Teal Jones Group of Surrey), knows anything about logging activity in the area in question. Or at least they aren't willing to speak to why the area has been flagged for falling.

The Teal Jones Group is a private logging company whose website states that the organization "recognizes that only through respect for all aspects of our environment can we consistently achieve our objectives and commitments in the long term productivity and conservation of natural resources."

However, cutting trees up to 1000 years plus does not show respect. And then planting a few seedlings doesn't cut it, unless they are planning on letting the seedlings grow for the next several hundred to 1000 years before they harvest again.

How about even 250 years? This is about the time required for the coastal forest to mellow into the next old growth phase, and attain a level of biomass not seen in any other ecosystem.

No, the next harvest here, in order for logging companies like Teal Jones to 'achieve their objectives' of increasing profits, will be in 60 to 80 years.

Once it is logged, the old growth forest and all the diversity that goes with it is gone forever. That is why it is so important to save what is left, including the Upper Walbran Valley's Castle Grove and champion trees like the Castle Giant.

Say NO to old growth logging.

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