12/24/2014

Al Carder: Big Tree Defender Honoured By AFA

Al Carder - big tree lover and protector.
When it comes to promoting the beauty of big trees, there are few humans as influential as Al Carder.
It was great to see this big tree hero honoured recently. Al Carder, long a big tree lover and protector, was acknowledged for his work by The Ancient Forest Alliance. Call it an early Christmas present.

Al, author of "Forest Giants of The World: Past and Present" and "Giant Trees of Western America and The World" is as old and wise as some of the trees he has written about.

After personally discovering his books he became one of my big tree heroes. I mean, how many people do you know that go on global tree tours in their retirement, then write books about the experience upon arriving home? Who knows how many trees he has brought attention to, and thus saved for future generations to see?

Mr. Carder was largely responsible for the preservation of Port Renfrew's Red Creek Fir (largest known Douglas fir in the world) after it was discovered by timber industry workers in 1976. If not for him I, and many others, may never have seen this majestic tree.

If you haven't caught the tree bug yet, I urge you to go to the nearest public library and check out Al's books. If you aren't a convert afterwards perhaps clear cuts are more to your liking, because that is what happens when we forget to love the trees.

Thank you Mr. Carder for sharing your love and passion for our primal trees and forests with all the world.

Congratulations on your AFA Sustainability Award.

9/05/2014

Canada #1 In Ancient Forest Destruction

Industrial liquidation clear cut on Vancouver Island.
Photo: Garth Lenz

Move over Brazil, Canada leads world in forest decline says a new report. The world’s virgin forests are being lost at an increasing rate and the largest portion of the degradation is in Canada, according to the report.

No longer is Brazil the main villain in the struggle to stop forest destruction. We are the global leaders when it comes to driving entire forest ecosystems to extinction, such as the Douglas fir ecozone. That primal forest, which once produced some of the largest trees on the planet, has been reduced to a fraction of 1% remaining. 

And the cutting of ancient trees continues unabated.


“Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000,” Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview.


“There is no political will at federal or provincial levels for conserving primary forests,” he said. “Most logging done in Canada is still to this day done in virgin forests.”

This is not news to those that have witnessed first hand the last grand old forests of Vancouver Island be liquidated for short term profit. But it is not just here that forests are being degraded and destroyed - it is everywhere in Canada where there are trees to be exploited by the greedy grabbers.

It is way past time to stop the destruction wreaked on our forests by callous and calculating pinheads in government and business that just don't know when to stop. The forest can not defend itself against the onslaught - that task is up to us.


“Business as usual will lead to the destruction of most remaining intact forests this century.” 

- Dr. Nigel Sizer, World Resources Institute

8/02/2014

West Coast Big Trees - Spectacular, Unique and Disappearing

There are not many places in the world that have trees as spectacular as those on BC's west coast.
This photo from the local museum supposedly depicts Sooke's Grant Road in the 1940's.

There are a lot of trees between Sooke, BC and the Anappolis Valley of Nova Scotia. A lot. All of them are beautiful in their own way, but few are as spectacular as those in the Pacific temperate rain forest that I just left behind.

Whether we are talking historically or present day, the Pacific rainforest is unique and spectacular. While I look forward to exploring and learning about my new NS forest, I miss the biggest trees in Canada already.

Too bad British Columbia has no idea of what they've got, and what they are currently losing at an alarming rate. If they did, they would be out in the streets, up logging roads, and chained to the last ancient giants before rapacious profiteers carry the last trees and profits away.

So many big trees have been taken already that people can hardly believe the size of the trees in historical photographs. While they may be gone from places like Grant Road, such trees exist in isolated pockets all along the coast.

There are lots of trees in Canada, but surely we should be saving the biggest and rarest of these that call the rainforest home.

6/28/2014

Trembling Aspen

A small grove of trembling aspen.


Trembling aspen are the most widely distributed trees in North America. They live up to their name. Even the slightest breeze makes them do their thing. They tremble.

This aspen tree has my favourite scientific designation that reflects this behaviour - Populus tremuloides.

I think the leaves are susceptible to moving and shaking because the "petiole is distally flattened at right angle to plane of blade".

That makes sense to me.



Older trees sport distinctive bark patterns like hard won woody tattoos.


Trembling aspen grow to 35 meters, but height is not their most spectacular feature. What makes these trees special is that they can form large groves through root suckers, making them clones and therefore a single, huge organism.

There is an aspen grove in Utah that has a root system estimated to be 80,000 years old, and some say that is a conservative number. While none of the trees in the grove is overly tall, the entire clone is 106 acres in size.

The Utah grove is known as Pando, or The Trembling Giant.

The grove I photographed in central British Columbia along the Crowsnest Highway is considerably smaller, but just as amazing and beautiful.

6/18/2014

Ponderosa Pine Of Central BC




Vancouver Island Big Trees is on the road. Yes, 'The Tree People' have left the Pacific Temperate Rainforest, and are on the way to getting established in the Acadian Forest of Nova Scotia.

In the meantime, we will be posting on big trees that we encounter along our 6500 km cross-Canada journey.

The trees featured in this post are the glorious red-barked ponderosa pines, the tallest pine species in North America. These inhabitants of the dry interior of BC are in some respects more admirable than the big trees on the coast. Why? Because these trees don't have the benefits of ample rainfall, or rich soils.

And yet, the pines manage to grow quite huge, as shown by these photos of an impressive trio at the Bromely Rock Rest Area along scenic Highway 3, also known as the Crowsnest Highway.




While the coast forest includes the stunted and twisted shore pines, you need to travel  few hundred kilometres east before you can see pines of the size of the stately but threatened ponderosa.

Ponderoas pines are susceptible to attacks by the pine beetle. Indeed, many old growth sites have been decimated by the tiny attacker.

With the dual threats of bark beetles and climate change hanging heavily over the entire ponderosa range, it is not known if these trees will survive the upcoming decades of potential turmoil.

Don't wait, visit these trees now before they are gone.


You will know them when you see them, but if not this series of pictures will help you
identify these amazing trees that can grow for up to 500 years or more.
In January 2011, a Pacific ponderosa pine in the Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon was measured with a laser to be 81.79 m (268.35 ft)  tall. The measurement was performed by Michael Taylor and Mario Vaden, a professional arborist from Oregon.

The tree was climbed on October 13, 2011, by Ascending The Giants (a tree climbing company in Portland, Oregon) and directly measured with tape-line at 268.29 ft (81.77 m) high. This is now the tallest known pine.

The tallest known ponderosa pine in BC is listed in the BC Big Tree Registry. It is 49.9 m (164 ft) tall and is found on the Coldstream Ranch southeast of Vernon. 

6/09/2014

Big Lonely Doug A Big Climb

Tree climbers on the first ascent of Big Lonely Doug near Port Renfrew.

How do you climb the 66 meters (216 ft) of the recently discovered second largest (known) Douglas fir tree in Canada?

Very carefully.


Tiny people give scale to the enormity of this amazing tree.

Why do you climb a tree like Big Lonely Doug?

To raise awareness of Vancouver Island's vanishing old growth trees and forests.


Climbers descended with samples of soil and moss from the tree's canopy. It is possible
that the samples may contain insects completely new to science.

British Columbia’s threatened old-growth forests are being logged to extinction by industrial logging aided by lax government regulation. But many people, including those in the former logging town of Port Renfrew, realize that trees like the Red Creek Fir and Big Lonely Doug are more valuable standing than cut down.

On Vancouver Island about 75% of the original productive old-growth forests have already been logged, including 90% of the valley bottoms where the richest biodiversity and biggest trees are found.

Once gone, the big trees and primal forests will never be seen again. What a wasted opportunity.

Read more about the first ascent of Big Doug here.

Join the fight to preserve these unique trees by writing a letter here.

6/04/2014

Jobs Or Trees

Bloody stumps in a clear cut of an ancient forest near Port Renfrew. This dismal scene was witnessed by
the good people from Ancient Forest Alliance who found the 2nd largest Douglas fir in Canada among
the stumps of its forest family. Photo: TJ Watt

"What kind of person can cut an ancient forest to bloody stumps, bulldoze the meadows to mud, spray poison over the mess that's left, and then set smudge fires in the slash? And when the wounded mountainside slumps into the river, floods tear apart the waterfalls and scour the spawning beds, and no salmon return, what kind of person can pronounce it an act of God -- and then direct the bulldozers through the stream and into the next forest, and the next?  

I hope there's a cave in hell for people like this, where an insane little demon hops around shouting, 'jobs or trees, jobs or trees,' and buries an ax blade in their knees every time they struggle to their feet."
 -Kathleen Dean Moore

5/18/2014

What Is A Tree Worth?

Amrita Devi and her daughters gave their lives to protect trees near their Rajasthan home
in a confrontation with tree cutters in 1730AD. The Bishnois people are consider
among the earliest conservationists in the world.

An older tree is worth at least $200,000 - alive. That is the estimate made by a scientist in India, a country known for protecting precious forest resources.

The Indian Chipko activists were the original tree-huggers, risking their own lives to save the lives of valuable trees. I am sure the scientist would agree that the trees are worth the risks brave defenders take.

According to T.M. Das, a professor at the University of Calcutta, a living tree 50 years old will generate:

  • $31,250 dollars worth of oxygen, 
  • provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, 
  • control soil erosion and increase soil fertility to the tune of $31,250
  • recycle $37,500 dollars worth of water, and 
  • provide a home for animals worth $31,250.

This figure does not include the value of nuts, fruits, wood products like lumber, or the beauty derived from trees.

If a 50 year old tree is worth $200,000 dollars, how about a 500 year old tree? A 2,000 year old tree? A whole forest of old growth trees?

They are priceless.

The professor's work highlights more reasons to ensure the health of our forests now and for the future. Old growth trees are worth hugging, and their forests worth protecting.


"We have risen, we are awake: No longer will thieves rule our destiny. 
It is our home, our forests; No longer will the others decide for us. 
Soil ours, water ours, ours are these forests too."
- Dhan Singh Rana, Indian Chipko Movement

5/10/2014

Dead Wood Is Good Wood

A large diameter fallen tree along Upper Goldstream Trail in Goldstream Provincial Park. Over hundreds of
years the fallen Western red cedar will provide nutrients for the large Douglas fir behind it.


In the Pacific rainforest dead standing and fallen trees may make up more biomass than the living giants towering above the soil. If it weren't for these dead trees, and the decomposers that break them down, the forest would cease to exist.


According to renowned forester Chris Maser, ‘decaying wood serves as a savings account of soil organic materials and nutrients in forest ecosystems’. This is one reason landowners should not try to "clean up" forested areas. They need to be messy in order to function properly.


Sometimes messy old growth forests are deemed "decadent" to justify cutting them down. But you can't improve on the natural cycles of life and death.



Fallen large trees enhance fish habitat by providing shade and structure.
These downed trees are over the upper Goldstream River.


Dead wood is also a boon to forest wildlife.

In the words of forest scientist Charles Elton, "dying and dead wood provides one of the two or three greatest resources for animal species in a natural forest...if fallen timber and slightly decayed trees are removed the whole system is gravely impoverished of perhaps more than one fifth of its wildlife component".

The healthiest forest is an untouched forest, in all its messy, "decadent" glory.


5/05/2014

A Few Favourite Tree Friends

This ancient cedar is on one of my favourite bike rides along the Sooke River. These
trees are hard to age, but this one could be pushing 1000.

We initially moved to the rainforest from the city to be surrounded by wilderness, to experience a landscape and everything living in it more than we ever had before. We gave ourselves time to explore and followed every little whim.

Because of this mandate we have made friends with a lot of trees.

Here are a few of the gentle giants that we have had the privilege of visiting.


This large Douglas-fir is in Devonian Park, Metchosin. There are a few older trees here, and
access to the beach and ocean below.


This is the largest tree I have stood next to in my nine years of tramping through the forest
searching for the big ones. Western red cedar like this one could live for thousands of years.
Yes, thousands.




This old growth Sitka spruce is on a trail leading to China Beach. All along the coast the
last holdouts of the primeval 10,000 year old forest hang on… for now.



4/24/2014

BC Wood Makes Beautiful Music

This Yamaha guitar has an old growth sitka spruce solid wood soundboard.
B.C. wood is in 80% of the world’s solid wood guitar soundboards. 


British Columbia's old growth forests are the number one go-to wood lot of choice for local and international guitar makers alike.

"Abbotsford-based David Lapeyrouse of Timbre Tonewood, who supplies wood to guitar makers, estimates there are 10,000 guitar builders in North America, 1,000 in Canada and a disproportionate 500 or more in B.C. At one point, back in 1999, Lapeyrouse had a quarter of the global market in solid wood soundboards, the vital resonating top face of a guitar. 
Why is B.C. such a hot spot for luthiers and instrument-grade wood? Three reasons -
  1. Jean Larrivée of Larrivée guitars,
  2. artisan Michael Dunn, and
  3. B.C.’s old growth forests.
 The growing number of aging boomers doesn’t hurt either. 

Classical guitar with birdseye maple side and back, and cedar soundboard.

B.C. wood is in 80 per cent of the world’s solid wood soundboards, Lapeyrouse said. The remaining guitars are plywood topped — and most of those are surfaced with B.C. wood. 
B.C. is world-renowned for its old growth Engelmann and Sitka spruce and red cedar “tone wood.” Luthiers (artisans who make stringed instruments) covet the straight, fine grain found in old forests where trees compete for light and grow slowly. The wood must be carefully lined up along two dimensions for cutting. 
“The tonal quality is based on whether it’s cut right so it captures the wood’s natural strength,” Lapeyrouse said. Cut it wrong and you get a thud instead of a musical ting when you tap the wood. 
Of nine million guitars built globally each year, 2.5 million have solid wood tops, with two million come from B.C. at about $15 million wholesale, Lapeyrouse said. Most of the wood is shipped to Taiwan, Korea and China."

This department store special is made of plywood. While it has its
merits, superb tonal quality is not one of them.

It is important to harvest valuable old growth sustainably so we can continue to have access to high grade instrument-quality wood.

Decisions we make now will affect musicians and instrument makers for centuries to come.

Read more about BC guitars and guitar makers here

4/23/2014

It's Time To Pay Our Debt To Trees

It is time to pay our debt… with interest.
Photo: TJ Watt

Many researchers believe that if it weren't for the amazing versatility of wood, civilization as we know it would never have developed.


"Wood is humanity's oldest natural resource. We have no older or deeper debt."

- Hugh Johnson, author of The World of Trees


It is time to show our gratitude and respect for our global tree community, and pay our debts... with interest. 

If that is even possible, considering tree's immense contribution to our well-being since the dawn of humanity.

I suggest that we at least try before it is too late.

4/11/2014

Witty Beach Road Trail Closure



Two large Douglas-fir trees greet visitors to the parking lot at the end
of Witty Beach Road in Metchosin, BC.

Following the short, but scenic Witty Beach Road in the rural Vancouver Island community of Metchosin, takes you to a small parking lot by the ocean. For most people the beach is the destination, and a beautiful one it is, but there are other attractions.


While beach access from this spot has been restricted recently by a closed set of crumbling stairs, my favourite features remain - two large, old Douglas-fir that dominate the area.



Witty Beach can still be accessed via the main parking lot
 at Witty's Lagoon Regional Park.


Access stairs in better times. The steep slope they were
anchored on is unstable.



There are not many big Douglas-fir left, let alone ones you
can drive right up to like these.
Officials are uncertain as to when the beach access at Witty Beach Road will reopen. For the time being it is worth a drive to visit the trees before going to the main parking lot down the road to access the beach.

4/03/2014

BC Liberals: Public Parks Are Open For Private Exploitation

Will industrial development be coming to a park near you?
How about in Cathedral Grove?
In the news for a while was more evidence that nothing is officially sacred any more. Everything public is being privatized, and now that includes BC's park system.

Here we thought that our hard-fought battles were to preserve special places for future generations. Now we can see that we were just preserving special places for future corporate exploitation.

How much do they want of our public land? All of it - 100%.

And they will get it (including the 12% of land designated as provincial parks in BC) if we don't raise our voices and tell them to keep their hands off our sacred trust.


The following is from Bill 4 Passes: B.C. Parks Now Officially Open…To Pipelines and Drilling:

March 25, 2014
A little-known Bill, the Park Amendment Act, that will drastically alter the management of B.C. parks is set to become law today, creating controversy among the province’s most prominent environmental and conservation organizations. 
The passage of Bill 4 will make way for industrial incursions into provincial parklands including energy extraction, construction of pipelines and industry-led research. 
The Bill, quietly introduced in mid-February, has already met significant resistance in B.C. where the Minister of Environment received “thousands of letters” of opposition, according to Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Peter Wood. 
“There has been absolutely zero public consultation, and the pace at which this was pushed through suggests this was never a consideration,” he said in a press release. 
“This Bill undermines the very definition of what a ‘park’ is,” Gwen Barlee from the Wilderness Committee said in the same statement, “given that our protected areas will now be open to industrial activity.” 
“This is a black day for B.C. Parks – the provincial government is ensuring that none of our parks are now safe from industrial development,” she said. 
According to staff lawyer Andrew Gage with the West Coast Environmental Law the bill is “difficult to square” with the sentiments underlying the B.C. Parks Service, which claims provincial parks and conservancies are a “public trust” for the “protection of natural environments for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public.”

See a list of the provincial parks at risk here

3/23/2014

Canada's 2nd Biggest Douglas-fir Tree Identified in Recent Clear Cut

Big Lonely Doug, the second largest known Douglas-fir tree in Canada.
Photo by TJ Watt


The second largest known Douglas-fir tree in Canada was recently discovered by big tree defenders on Vancouver Island. Named "Big Lonely Doug" by the Ancient Forest Alliance members that found it, this magnificent tree has been left stranded in the middle of a 2012 clear cut by forest liquidators Teal-Jones.

But don't be distressed by the sad scenes depicted in TJ Watt's amazing photos of this notable tree that had a close brush with death in 2012, or its surroundings. Teal-Jones, the logging company that share the responsibility for this tragic mess with negligent MLAs in the BC Liberal Party, assure us on their website that

"There is virtually no waste in manufacturing wood products".


Thank goodness people like those at Ancient Forest Alliance are out doing the work in the woods to try and stop the waste, not to mention the extinction of the primal forests that remain on Vancouver Island.

If you want to help them help us, please consider donating to this worthy organization of hard-working big tree campaigners.



12 meters (39 feet) in circumference or 4 meters (13 feet) in diameter, and 69 meters(226 feet) tall.
Photo by TJ Watt

The following information is from the AFA Facebook page:

Port Renfrew - Conservationists with the Ancient Forest Alliance have found and measured what appears to be Canada’s second largest recorded Douglas-fir tree, nick-named “Big Lonely Doug”, standing by itself in an area clearcut in 2012. 
Preliminary measurements of the tree taken yesterday found it to be about 12 meters (39 feet) in circumference or 4 meters (13 feet) in diameter, and 69 meters(226 feet) tall. Big Lonely Doug is estimated to be about 1000 years old, judging by nearby 8 feet wide Douglas-fir stumps in the same clearcut with growth rings of 500-600 years. 
Big Lonely Doug’s total size comes in just behind the current champion Douglas-fir, the Red Creek Fir, the world’s largest, which grows just one valley over. 
Big Lonely Doug grows in the Gordon River Valley near the coastal town of Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island, known as the “Tall Trees Capital” of Canada. It stands on Crown lands in Tree Farm Licence 46 held by the logging company Teal-Jones, in the unceded traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation band. 
The fact that all of the surrounding old-growth trees have been clearcut around such a globally exceptional tree, putting it at risk of being damaged or blown down by wind storms, underscores the urgency for new provincial laws to protect BC’s largest trees, monumental groves, and endangered old-growth ecosystems. 
The days of colossal trees like these are quickly coming to an end as the timber industry cherry-picks the last unprotected, valley-bottom, lower elevation ancient stands in southern BC where giants like this grow.


It will take a thousand years or more to replace this clear cut old growth forest.
Photo by TJ Watt


Vancouver Observer - Canada's 2nd Largest Douglas-fir Found: "The vast majority of BC's remaining old-growth forests are at higher elevations, on rocky sites, and in bogs where the trees are much smaller and in many cases have low to no commercial value. 
It's the valley-bottom, low elevation stands where trees like the Big Lonely Doug grow that are incredibly scarce now. 99 per cent of the old-growth Douglas-fir trees on BC's coast have already been logged. 
It's time for the BC government to stop being more enthusiastic about big stumps than big trees, and for them to enact forest policies that protect our last endangered ancient forest ecosystems." 
http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/canadas-second-largest-douglas-fir-discovered


While trees are a renewable resource, with current logging practices and regulations,
 forests older than about 80 years are not. 
Photo by TJ Watt

"...while trees are harvested the effects are only short term as reforestation follows."
- from the Teal-Jones logging company website, that fails to realize that the destruction of thousand year old trees is not a "short term effect".


Witness to the on-going destruction of our ancient forests, with Canada's
 second largest known Douglas-fir in the background. What a magnificent, lonely tree…
Photo by TJ Watt

3/18/2014

Beginner Bracket Fungus

I was fascinated by these fungal forms on a recent hike. It looks like the start of bracket fungus.


Yes, the big trees in the rainforest are of truly epic proportions. But just as fascinating are the smaller things that live among (and on) the giants. The varieties of fungal life in the forest provides an example of smaller life forms that make this ecosystem work.

Bracket fungus, or shelf fungus as it is also known, is a common sight in the Pacific rainforest.



Here the smears of fungus are developing the bracket seen in the more mature form.


Bracket fungus can be found on standing and fallen trees. If the tree is not already dead, bracket fungus can get so large as to kill the tree.

I have seen large specimens, but have never noticed small ones, or noticed how they start out.


Several small bracket fungus hiding in the moss growing on a dead red alder.

Fungus and other decomposers are important parts of the nutrient cycle in the rain forest, and act as Nature's recyclers. If they couldn't do their job (as is happening around the Chernobyl NPP), the system would cease to function properly.


2/26/2014

Snow In The Rainforest

No snow at sea level, but accumulations at elevation in the Sooke Hills.





A bit on the ground at Sooke Potholes Park, but not enough for
skiing or snowshoeing.




Heavier snow in the trees on the hilltops.



Conditions are good for revealing individual big trees on the hillside that normally
 blend into the forest and are harder to spot.




The falls on Sooke River are highlighted by a dusting of snow.

2/05/2014

Studying Orange Jelly Fungus



I photographed this bizarre looking life form recently and wanted to identify what it is, and what planet it comes from. Some light studying leads me to believe it is Orange Jelly Fungus (Dacrymyces palmatus).

This edible but tasteless orangey-yellow glistening growth was living on a fallen Douglas-fir, doing its job to slowly break it down. Decomposers perform an important function as nature's recyclers.

Decomposers, or saprotrophs, recycle dead plants and animals into chemical nutrients like carbon and nitrogen that are released back into the soil, air and water.

I can see someone perhaps giving this amazing growth a little poke with a finger or stick, but it boggles the mind to think of eating it. 

Unless you have bought your mushrooms in the grocery store you should proceed with extreme caution.

Whether they look like day-glo boogers or not.

2/03/2014

Lessons In The DeMamiel Creek Forest

The DeMamiel Creek forest is mostly second growth with old growth trees in places.
It is in the Coastal Douglas fir ecozone, and is comprised mostly of private land.


The primal forest is the best school one is likely to find. Too bad so many people are skipping class, including those who are supposed to be responsible for protecting this precious resource.


The students that do take the time to learn the lessons of the forest discover everything they need to know about successful living on this planet. Trees provide places we can experience the richness of life. Here we can learn the lessons of gentle living and cooperation.


Notable teachers across the ages have acted as our guides, sharing with us their insights gained from developing a relationship with the trees.



A fungal community growing on a moss community growing in a tree community. Things proceed peacefully - there are no wars... until we show up with our scorched earth assaults and clear everything in sight.


Pete Seeger loved being on the stage, but found respite in the forest. He said, "Every time I'm in the woods, I feel like I'm in church."


But churches pale in comparison to sunlight filtering through a grove of centuries old Western red cedar or Douglas fir on a misty day. The great cathedrals of the world were built to emulate such groves of towering trees, which are the original places of worship.


This is the original place of learning and worship - everyone is welcomed here.



The forest wilderness is where John Muir went to discover the clearest way into the Universe. His prescription for all of us urban types was to occasionally spend a week in the woods to "wash the spirit clean".



DeMamiel Creek supports several species of salmon. The trees and fish have a mutually beneficial relationship.



Henry David Thoreau lived in the woods to learn what they had to teach. He found the trees and the things that lived with them to be a source of beauty, harmony, and perfection in cooperation.


Thoreau learned that in the woods everything does its part with thrift and equality, and he pondered the folly of not doing the same in the human world.



DeMamiel forest is accessible from the adjacent Sunriver neighbourhood.


Indian activist Vandana Shiva started her eco-education in the 1970s women-led Chipko movement. These are the original tree huggers - Chipko means "to hug or embrace". The women were so dedicated to their communities' Himalayan forests that they wrapped themselves around the trees to protect them from loggers saws.


After repeated walks among the beautiful oaks and rhododendrons, Shiva learned that "the forest teaches us enoughness: as a principle of equity, how to enjoy the gifts of nature without exploitation and accumulation."


By 1980 the Chipko movement scored a major victory for forests and the people when the Indian government imposed a 15 year ban on logging in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Similar logging bans spread to other states as communities took back forest resources for the benefit of the people living there.


Everything does its part, and each part
is as important as any other.


No species other than humans takes more than its fair share. In the forest there is no consumerism, no greed, and no accumulation for personal aggrandizement. There is the freedom to be and participate as a necessary and integral part of something larger to which we are all connected.


It is vital that we adopt the wisdom of the woods, and soon. Instead of clear cutting the last ancient forests to the ground, we should be studying and emulating them.


When we begin to learn their lessons we will begin to live in harmony with our environment, and with each other.


1/25/2014

One Of The Last Of Its Kind

Question: Was this photo taken in 1814 or 2014?
Photo credit: TJ Watt, AFA

The following was taken from the Ancient Forest Alliance Facebook page.

Question: Was this photo taken in 1814 or 2014?

Answer: Sadly, just last week.

AFA's TJ Watt snapped this quick self portrait beside a near-record-size Douglas-fir tree that was left standing alone in an old-growth clearcut not far from Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island. Giant stumps litter the surrounding area.

Less than 1% of the original old-growth Douglas-fir trees remain on Vancouver Island after a century of logging and this may be one of the mightiest left of its kind - now left highly vulnerable to blow down.

What BC needs are ancient forests, not ancient policies, like those which allow for the destruction of these last endangered areas. But we'll need your help getting there.

You can start by signing and sharing our petition at www.AncientForestPetition.com or sending a letter to BC politicians here www.ancientforestalliance.org/write-letter.php and then be prepared for a very busy 2014!

Thank you!!

1/18/2014

Front Yard Flotsam

This large cedar that washed out of the Sooke River stayed hung up on a sandbar before salvagers came,
cut off the root end, and hauled the log away.

After having one of the driest fall seasons on record on south Vancouver Island, we recently experienced a record-breaking rainfall in a 24 hour period. When winter rainfalls coincide with seasonal high tides, the flotsam factor in my front yard increases dramatically.

It is exciting to see huge logs and whole trees float by during these winter freshets. Some of the debris is dislodged from area beaches by extra high tides, but much of the tree debris is sourced up the Sooke River which enters the harbour along Billing Spit's western shore.




Most of the tree debris gets washed out to sea, or gets hung up on a new beach somewhere. Some middle sized logs get hung up on sandbars in the harbour and stay until the next high tide or heavy rainfall.




Some of the larger logs stay around for years, perhaps decades. When these get stranded on a sandbar in the harbour they are heavily used by wildlife. Eagles perch and eat their prey on the large debris. River otters also love to play on the tree debris in the harbour.


This large Douglas fir log has been on the beach for a decade or more. Only the most extreme
tides and weather will move it off the beach.

Really big logs that get hung up on the sandbars will bring out the salvagers, or beachcombers as they are also called. Using giant chain saws, they remove the root ends of large trees, and use small boats to float the lucrative wood to where they can transfer it to land for milling.

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