If we are looking for effective carbon sequestration, never mind feeble and overpriced industrial solutions. We need to look at a real leader in the sector.
I am referring to forests.
Home to about 80% of the world's biodiversity, forests are collectively the second biggest storehouse of carbon after oceans, absorbing significant amounts of greenhouse gases.
They also enhance biodiversity, while protecting waterways, enhancing soil nutrition, and providing buffers from natural disasters.
All of that, and they are beautiful places to live or visit. How dull life would be without trees and forests. And how different life would be.
Some believe that civilization would have been impossible without trees.
How sad it would be if we destroyed all the primal/old growth forests of the world, a task that is frighteningly close to completion.
Not only are such forests living history books, but they are also carbon sinks that rival any kind of expensive human solution in industrial sequestration.
Once those forests are gone, they will take centuries, eons in some cases, to replace. And for what? A few jobs and temporary profits.
Considering their importance, we should show trees and forests respect and gratitude more often.
We should also do everything within our power to protect what little old growth that is left. It is those ancient forests that absorb and hold the most carbon, if that is to be one of our goals.
Protect forests and we retain one of our best ways of mitigating our effects on the atmosphere.
Trees are our friends. Forests for life.
After the San Juan Sitka Spruce near Port Renfrew lost its top in 2016 due to a lightning strike, it lost enough volume to be demoted from its previous status as Canada's largest sitka spruce.
So what is the largest Sitka spruce in the country now?
According to BC's Big Tree Registry, the San Jo's Smiley tree found on northern Vancouver Island is now the largest sitka spruce in Canada.
The Smiley Sitka is measured at 4.36 meters in diameter, and 77.8 m tall. The girth of the tree, measured at a height of 1.30 m, is a whopping 13.69 m.
This is what bctreehunter21 on Instagram had to say about this special tree:
"San Jo's Smiley, an exceptional Sitka spruce near Vancouver Island's Cape Scott, exceeds all expectations. While the tree's diameter of 4.36 metres is very impressive, it's the entirety of its mass that is most significant. The lack of taper is unique, and even 20 metres up its 77 metre trunk, the width looks to be close to 2.50 metres!"
It is, however, much harder to access than the San Juan Spruce.
The Ancient Forest Alliance, in announcing and celebrating the new champ on September 27, 2023, says it is "located near the San Josef River outside of Holberg in Quatsino territory."
While isolated in an area that few venture into, it is still well worth the trip, I am convinced.
If you are on northern Vancouver Island in the Cape Scott region, and are feeling adventurous, definitely search out this amazing tree survivor.
These massive remnant trees are worth infinitely more standing than laying on the ground to be chopped and hacked and insulted by petty, temporary human desires.
Cutting down trees that can live over a thousand years? When they are some of the last big trees of their type in the world?
So it is incredible that trees, including the San Jo's Smiley Tree, still exist.
We are keeping it that way. BC and interested parties are ensuring that we are moving forward on big tree and forest protection.
That is great, because there are many more BC trees/forests worthy of protection that are currently at risk of being laid down.
The San Jo's Smiley tree, Canada's new largest Sitka Spruce, is one of the at risk trees.
It has no legal protection.
|San Jan Sitka Spruce, photo by Tim Gage
The San Juan Sitka Spruce was the largest Sitka spruce on record in Canada, but is no more.
Reports are that this massive record-breaker lost part of its top to a lightning strike sometime in 2016, and it was enough to strike it from the top spot as the most massive sitka in the country.
However, this Sitka spruce that grows on Vancouver Island alongside the San Juan River 35 minutes from Port Renfrew, remains a visit-worthy big tree.
It was previously listed at 38.3' in circumference, 205' tall, with a crown spread of 75', containing 333 cubic meters of wood by volume.
The height is now measured at 198' instead of 205', and the difference means it has lost enough mass to remove its distinction as Canada's largest.
So what is the largest Sitka Spruce in Canada after the San Juan tree's fall from top spot?
We will cover the new record breaking tree in a future post.
Read more about Canada's former largest sitka spruce here, including directions to see the tree.
And remember, when visiting big trees, take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but foot prints. I always try to leave any site I visit in better shape than when I arrived.
In most forested places in the world logical thinking people have come to the conclusion that some trees are worth more when left standing in ecologically intact forests.
Puebla, Mexico is one of those places saving forest habitat for the many irreplaceable benefits they accrue to humans and other living things.
1,500-hectare park in Puebla designated natural protected area
"Every tree has its enemy, few have an advocate. In all my works I take the part of trees against all their enemies."
- JRR Tolkien
With the state of our forests in Canada and around the globe, we could use more tree advocates.
There are many today who are doing a wonderful job of protecting the old growth for future generations to enjoy, and I thank them all from the depths of my tree-loving heart.
But they need our help, and they need it soon.
The world needs all of us to advocate for the trees. Because they can't advocate for themselves.
The big trees have their enemies that must be stopped. Consider becoming an advocate before all the old growth is gone.
The discussion following record-breaking rains and floods in British Columbia include speculation about the effects of fires.
We should also be wondering about the effects of unprecedented levels of damaging logging practices.
In the future, will logging companies be sued for their negligence?
A big tree is not just a big tree. It is an entire neighbourhood. The human equivalent would be a residential skyscraper.
Imagine if someone cut one of them down just because harvesting big buildings was profitable.
Where would the people that live there go? Or the people that work there?
When we see a big tree, or any tree, going down the highway on the back of a truck we should say,
"There goes the neighbourhood".
Each old growth tree is a community of millions of different organisms large and small.
Some can't live anywhere else.
Where are they to go?
A recent photo taken on Vancouver Island of a single, large sitka spruce trunk on a logging truck went viral.
The large tree looks like it could be about 800 years old, give or take 200 years.
Many people that saw the photo were shocked that we still do this kind of thing when so much of the ancient forest is gone.
Over 90% of the oldest and best stands have already been logged in BC. It makes one think they will not be satisfied until they get as close to 100% of the big trees as possible.
As soon as possible.
One day we will view decimating entire ancient forest communities that have thrived harmoniously for 10,000 years as barbaric and tragically old fashioned.
We will look into how they got away with replacing the great mass of 10,000 year old forest with tree farms on 80 year rotations, with the big trees never to be seen again outside of small parks and areas they haven't ruthlessly exploited yet.
That day of reckoning may be coming sooner than they think if the reaction to the viral photo of that formerly beautiful spruce tree on the back of a logging truck is any indication.
It can't come soon enough for a great many, and growing, number of us.
Every May the hummingbirds return to our area, and every May our feeder is out to greet them. Because of these busy, tiny birds, it is a joyful time of year.
The males come back first, setting up territories that they vigorously defend.
Our feeder can be seen from our kitchen sink, and when we are cooking or doing dishes there is endless entertainment just outside our window.
It is said that hummingbirds open the heart.
When we connect with hummingbirds, we delight in the sheer joy of living.
Life is a wonderland of sensuous delights, and we exist in its beauty, delighting in spring flowers, aromas, early sunrises, and the taste of fresh wholesome foods.
Hummingbirds remind us to laugh and enjoy creation, to appreciate the magic of being alive and the beauty of nature all around us.
Sure the world can be a messed up place, but that should not blind us to the infinite beauty around us at all times.
This is the vision, and gift, of heart-opening Hummingbirds.