10/11/2013

Sooke River Cedars

Cedar growing along (or in!) the Sooke River.

The Cheewhat Cedar in Pacific Rim National Park is the largest known tree in Canada. This building sized behemoth lives only about 100 km away, as the eagle flies, from my home. Thankfully I don't need to go that far to visit ancient cedars.

Cedars favour a moist, wet environment making the Sooke River riparian zone prime growing habitat. Only a few kilometres from my house I can access some of my favourite giant, ancient cedars growing where the land and the river meet.


Riparian zones provide rich habitat and have high biodiversity.

Wikipedia describes riparian zones as "important natural biofilters, protecting aquatic environments from excessive sedimentation, polluted surface runoff and erosion. They supply shelter and food for many aquatic animals and shade that is an important part of stream temperature regulation."


There are a trio of trees in this ancient cedar grove on the Sooke River bank.

Cedars are a major part of Vancouver Island riparian ecosystems. This community of plants ensures perfects conditions for spawning and growing salmon. Any damage to the cedars and the riparian zone will result in damage to salmon runs, as has been the case all along BC's coast.


An unhealthy salmon run reflects back on the rivers and damage to the riparian zone results. Every year millions of salmon return to their river birthplaces and provide riparian areas with tons of nutrients. No fish - no nutrients.


Broken top cedars on the river bank show their advanced age.

Some of the local cedars I visit on my bike rides could be up to 800 years old. Or more. I marvel that they still exist, and breathe a sigh of relief each time I go for a visit and see that they are still there.

Then I soak up the history and magic of the riverside groves and of these patient, wise tree beings that have so much to share. They don't call it the "Tree of Life" for nothing.

Soon the salmon will be running along the base of their land dwelling tree friends, continuing the cycle of life for both fish and trees.

Perhaps one day in the distant future one of the Sooke River cedars will be the largest tree in Canada.

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