San Juan Sitka Spruce Update

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.


Old Forests Are Worth More Standing

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

The declaration shields the area from real estate development 

The Flor del Bosque park, located southeast of Puebla city, has been declared a natural protected area, the state government announced on Thursday.

This will mean that the park’s 1,501 hectares will be off-limits for real estate development and other kinds of new settlement, and that the communities already living on the land will be obliged to participate in its sustainable use and protection.

Read more here


More Tree Advocates Needed


"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.


BC Floods and Clearcut Logging

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?

Water Logged | new ending from Ramshackle Pictures on Vimeo.


Big Tree Art by Hasui Kawase


Moon at Megome 
from the series Twenty Views of Tokyo, 1919-1921

Nikkō Kaidō, 1930.


There Goes The Last Dodo


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.


Forest Creatures: Hummingbirds


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.


Razing Old-Growth Forests

"The razing of an old-growth forest is not just the destruction of magnificent individual trees – it’s the collapse of an ancient republic whose interspecies covenant of reciprocation and compromise is essential for the survival of earth as we’ve known it."

Ferris Jabr

Why isn't razing old growth forests illegal yet? 

With very little left globally, it will be too late if we don't take immediate action.

The destruction of our old forests will go down in history as one of humanities greatest blunders, and a major cause of our eventual extinction.

It is a crime against this planet and all life on it.

And for what?

A couple of hundred years of profit?

Sad Earth Day, everyone.


MicroArk Project Invitation

An interesting comment was left here a few days ago. I am posting it to reach a wider audience because it sounds like an amazing opportunity to imagine and implement projects to make a difference. 

MicroArks! I love the sound of that.

Hi there! 

I'm lucky enough to have access to quite a number of native tree seedlings on an East Sooke property. The ones easiest to transplant are between 1-4 yrs old.

There are Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Hemlock, Spruce, Alder,and Broad Leaf Maple in various quantities.

Also, Salal, Oregon Grape, Huckleberries, Ocean Spray, Salmon and Thimble Berries,and more.

At a Victoria location there are Garry Oaks, Arbutus, and Snowberries. 

There's also some duff infused with Mycorrhizal fungus and epiphytic moss, lichen and liverworts to innoculate the replanting sites. 

I'd really like to find carefully considered locations for replanting and long term care.

I transplanted about 50-60 with a small group of mostly kids a year ago but a repeat didn't happen due to Covid 19.

I'm hoping to connect with any people interested in some small scale, responsible, replanting collaborations in the next few months. Or even to simply discuss the concepts and processes involved.

I feel we need to establish some "MicroArks" consisting of groups of trees and their associated flora and fauna that are carefully considered and cared for.

They will provide examples to be replicated thus beginning the regrowth of truly natural forests for perpetuity.

Thanks for your interest!

Paul Winstanley



paul@spectrafocus.ca 250-899-9285