Members of the "Canada's Biggest Stumps" Facebook group can upload photos of the largest tree stumps they have found in Canada.
See the new photos of the recently cut trees and the new Facebook group (note: you don't need a Facebook account to view the images) at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=111659885542266&v=photos
he resulting photogallery will help to raise public awareness about the demise of BC's spectacular but endangered old-growth forests and their replacement by second-growth tree plantations that lack the unique species, tourism values, and vast carbon reserves of the original ancient forests. Participants who take the most spectacular photos will receive a complementary poster of Canada's largest Douglas fir (Red Creek Fir) or Sitka spruce (San Juan Spruce) trees, both located near Port Renfrew.
"With relatively few 'eyes and ears' out there monitoring what is going on in our forests, photo expeditions and competitions like this will help to show the public what serious environmental destruction is happening just down the backroads of the land they call home. The logging of centuries-old giant trees with trunks as wide as a living room is happening every day in this province," notes TJ Watt, co-founder of the AFA and self-styled big-tree hunter. "How many jurisdictions on the planet still think it's fine to allow the logging of endangered old-growth forests where trees can live to be almost 2000 years old and grow as tall as skyscrapers?"
Last month, during an expedition to the Gordon River Valley north of Port Renfrew, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners TJ Watt, Brendan Harry, and Ken Wu found hundreds of giant stumps that were cut within the past year. Among them, they found nearly a dozen stumps with diameters between 12 to 15 (3.7 to over 4.6 meters wide) across. These old-growth trees were cut down on public (Crown) lands in Tree Farm License (TFL) 46 in the tenure of Surrey-based Teal Jones. One of the most disturbing clearcuts was located just over one kilometer from the recently discovered Avatar Grove.
"For years we have been highlighting the beauty of the biggest and most magnificent old growth trees on Vancouver Island. However, at this point people need to understand the urgency of the situation - most of our remaining old-growth forests will not survive the BC Liberal government's current policy of ancient forest liquidation. These globally rare ancient forests are being turned into a sea of giant stumps and tree plantations as we speak. We must highlight the urgency of the situation and hold the BC Liberal government accountable for its totally antiquated, backwards, anti-environmental policies," states Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder. "By ensuring the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, which constitute the vast majority of forest lands in southern BC, and ending the export of BC raw logs to foreign mills, we can save our last old-growth forests while sustaining BC forestry jobs at the same time."
The Avatar Grove is about the most easily accessible, spectacular stand of endangered old-growth redcedars and Douglas firs in BC, growing on relatively flat terrain near a paved road in close proximity to the town of Port Renfrew.
The Grove includes "Canada's gnarliest tree", a giant red cedar with a 12 feet (3.7 meter) wide, contorted burl. A small portion of the Grove is protected within an Old-Growth Management Area, but most of its largest trees have been surveyed and flagged for logging. (See photos at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=480609145246&v=photos). So far the Ministry of Forests and Range has not issued any cutting permits for the Avatar Grove.
Old-growth forests are important for sustaining species at risk, tourism, clean water, and First Nations traditional cultures.
About 75% of the original productive old-growth forests have been logged on Vancouver Island, including 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow, according to satellite photos. Only about 6% of the Island's original, productive old-growth forests are protected in parks.
With so little of our ancient forests remaining, the Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC Liberal government to:
- Undertake a Provincial Old-Growth Strategy that will inventory and protect old-growth forests where they are scarce (egs. Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, southern Interior, etc.).
- Ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, which now constitute the vast majority of BC's landscapes.
- End the export of raw logs in order to ensure guaranteed log supplies for local milling and value-added industries.
- Assist in the retooling and development of mills and value-added facilities to handle second-growth logs.
- Undertake new land-use planning initiatives based on First Nations land-use plans, ecosystem-based scientific assessments, and climate mitigation strategies involving forest protection.
"At this late hour, who's still saying let's go to the end of the resource and finish off the last of our unprotected ancient forests on Vancouver Island? Only a small number of resource extraction extremists - which unfortunately includes the BC Liberal government at this point - think the industry is entitled to take the last unprotected stands of our spectacular ancient trees here," states Wu.