Tall Tree Music Festival

If you like music, big trees, and the great outdoors on Vancouver Island, consider checking out the Tall Tree Music Festival taking place June 28 - 30 on Browns Mountain near Port Renfrew.

Mike Hann, the festival's director, says that this year is fourth year of the event. He also points out that they support the important work of the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) as much as they can. The AFA has done awesome work in the region to preserve and promote local big trees.

You can see video of the stunning festival location, which is perched overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the setting sun.

Browns Mountain, site of the Tall Tree Music Festival

Music, trees, views, good people, supporting the AFA, and the great outdoors in summer. What's not to like?

If you go, take some time to see the Red Creek Fir (largest Douglas-fir in the world), or Avatar Grove (including Canada's gnarliest tree, a unique Western red cedar), or the San Juan Bridge Spruce (Canada's largest Sitka spruce) which are all within a few minutes of Port Renfrew.


Tree Art on Summer Solstice

"Summer Solstice" by Amy Giacomelli.

In this post I wanted to pay homage to beautiful tree art and the Summer Solstice, and Amy Giacomelli's far out tree painting does the trick. I am a sucker for the sacred spiral - it reminds me of tree rings.

What a glorious time of year this is in the northern hemisphere. The sun is at its zenith in the north and the days are long and warm. Deciduous trees are all leafed out, and the conifers are also growing rapidly.

Now is a great time to see the coastal forest in all its splendour, and perhaps do some en plein air painting while you are there. 

Like Amy's art, our original forests are magical. Whether you are painting or not, getting out in the open air and seeing the big trees is guaranteed to please the soul.

Happy summer. Hoping you have many great forest adventures this season.


Salvaging The Last Of The Cedar

This fallen cedar makes a good bench along the Sooke River

You can tell how valuable cedar wood is by the lengths that people will go to harvest these quintessential rain forest trees. Such is the story up the Sooke River where a nice Western red cedar gave in to gravity and fell into the water.

It did not lay there for long before someone brought in a chainsaw to take the log, which could be used for a wide variety of purposes from beams to boxes.

There are still a few old growth cedars left along the Sooke River, one of
Vancouver Island's largest rivers.
The cut log would have had to be floated down the river to the harbour, a distance of a couple of kilometres, where it could be plucked from the water.

The cedar's roots were undercut by the river till it could no longer stand.

A spear of cedar remains upright, a monument to
the cedar's original destination.

Heartwood of cedar shows its beautiful grain and texture. 

The wood of cedar is sturdy, rot resistant, and smells nice. These qualities, coupled with greed, have doomed the big trees to extinction. The Americans have already lost theirs as the big cedars along the coast of California, Oregon and Washington were consumed long ago.

Now logging companies are targeting the last big cedars remaining, which can be found in British Columbia. More specifically, on Vancouver Island where the largest of these large trees grow. Many of the trees cut down are exported as whole logs to overseas markets. There goes the neighbourhood.

The cut log is a nice place to sit under the feathery cedars,
and watch small salmon in the river below.

Although the tree in the river was probably not more than a few hundred years old, and relatively small as cedars go, it was still worth the substantial effort that it must have taken to cut and remove this tree from the forest along the river.

It will take similar efforts to halt the logging of our remaining old growth Western red cedars and Yellow cedars on Vancouver Island and the rest of British Columbia. 

Consider boycotting products made from first growth trees that could be upwards of a thousand years old. These ancient trees are an important part of not only the forest ecosystem, but also First Nations culture and way of life.


Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland Primal Forests Almost Gone


The Ancient Forest Alliance released a recent survey of old growth forests on Vancouver Island and the southwest mainland.  The before and after maps show the pre-European primal forest, and what is left 165 years later.

The most productive temperate coastal rainforest in the world reduced to clear cuts and tree farms in less than two centuries.

What is left of some of the biggest trees the planet has ever seen continue to be cut, both 'legally' and illegally. While what the government and logging companies have been doing may be technically legal, it is certainly not moral.

I don't think we have the right to destroy an entire ecosystem. I believe the word for it is ecocide, and as far as I'm concerned, all the "cides" are pretty horrible and should be avoided at all costs.

What was left in 2012 

The statistics are sobering and indicate the necessity of ending old growth logging in British Columbia immediately. The following numbers tell the sad tale of resource depletion in our forests.

Old-Growth (OG) Forest Statistics - SOUTHERN COAST (ie. Vancouver Island and SW Mainland)
From: Ancient Forest Alliance

Original Total OG: 5.5 million hectares
Low Productivity OG: 2.2 million hectares
Original Productive OG: 3.3 million hectares
Remaining Productive OG: 860,000 hectares (26% of original)
In Parks - Productive OG: 200,000 hectares (6% of original)
In Parks and OGMA's - Productive OG: 260,000 hectares (8% of original)

Valley Bottom*, Highest Productivity Old-Growth - SOUTHERN COAST (ie. Vancouver Island and SW Mainland)

Original: 360,000 hectares
Remaining: 31,000 hectares (9% of original)
In Parks: 9,400 hectares (2.6% of original)
In Parks and OGMA's: 11,700 hectares (3.2% or original)

* Low, Flat Terrain Under 300 meters elevation, under 17% slope

The primal forests on Vancouver Island and the lower mainland are just about gone. Along with them went an entire ecosystem that is unlikely to return as long as profit is the only guide in forestry decision making.

The magnificent old growth forests have been industrialized. Although theses areas remain rugged, they are not really wilderness any more. The second and third and fourth growth trees in the plantations will be laid down on a 60 year cycle in perpetuity by companies with headquarters in New York, where all the profits and benefits will fall.

In these parts it takes about 250 years for a productive valley bottom forest to acquire the characteristics of an old growth regime. Barring fire (rare in the coastal forest) or human greed, such forests can continue for thousands of years.

The primal forest here began after the last glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago. It survived in all its majesty until the 1800s when Europeans arrived.

Can we save the little bits that remain?

Visit the Ancient Forest Alliance website to donate, write a letter, and/or sign their petition.