B.C.'s Biggest Trees Not Protected

British Columbia holds record breaking trees, both in the books, and out in the forest waiting to be discovered. In order to increase awareness and protection of these tree Titans and old growth areas, Randy Stoltmann single-handedly started B.C.'s Big Tree Registry in the 1980's.

Modeled after registries in eastern Canada and the U.S., it has grown from just 18 trees of 13 species, to 190 trees of 37 species in 2006. With Stoltmann's death in 1994 the Big Tree Registry passed through a variety of homes, and now is hosted by the provincial government in the Ministry of Forests and Range.

The B.C. Big Tree Registry records the 10 biggest trees for each species, but affords the outstanding listed trees no protection. The Victoria chapter of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee is recommending that the registry list the 100 biggest trees of each species, as well as legislating protection for them.

It seems unlikely that someone would cut down a record-breaking tree, and that is probably what Forests Minister Pat Bell meant when he said that big trees on the registry are not usually harvested. He added that he is not contemplating any changes to the registry or to old growth logging practices in the province.

Robert Van Pelt, author of Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast, insists that ancient giants still exist in little explored areas of our province. Particularily, he fingers Vancouver Island as a potential source of record-breaking sized trees yet to be found. Record-breakers usually gain some notoriety (the registries intended purpose) that gives them unofficial protection-like status. These valuable resources deserve full protection.

And what of Van Pelt's potential record-breaking trees yet to be discovered? Will we ever know about them, let alone protect them, before they become big stumps? WCWC has ample evidence that trees exactly like the ones we worship in our parks are being logged. Is there a record-breaking stump out there?

Let's protect these magnificent trees and remaining ancient groves. Let's do it for all those forward-thinking timber workers that have identified significant trees and groves in the forest and saved them. Or for the Red-backed vole that lives its life in single giant Douglas firs, like the Red Creek Fir (itself a Big Tree Registry champion). Let's do it for Randy Stoltmann.


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