Ancient Rainforest subject to deforestation on Vancouver Island

One on the top 5 environmental concerns of 2019 is, sad to say, quite active on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

Conservationists with the Ancient Forest Alliance are dismayed that new logging has commenced on Edinburgh Mountain, an old-growth “hotspot” of high conservation value near Port Renfrew in Pacheedaht territory on western Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

A 15.6 cutblock, featuring old-growth forest with monumental red cedars and Douglas-firs, is being logged by Teal Jones Group and adds to the over 75 hectares of old-growth forest the company has logged on Edinburgh Mountain since 2016.

“The Ancient Forest Alliance is highly concerned about the future of this magnificent area, which includes almost 1,500 hectares of intact old-growth forest,” stated AFA Campaigner and Photographer TJ Watt. “Edinburgh Mountain is one of the largest contiguous tracts of unprotected ancient rainforest on southern Vancouver Island south of Barkley Sound and, without legislated protection, this spectacular forest is being whittled away, clearcut by clearcut.”Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) campaigners visited the cutblock over the weekend and found scores of giant trees cut down, including two-meter (seven-foot) wide cedars and an extremely rare, two-meter-wide, old-growth Douglas-fir, which had previously been photographed by AFA campaigner TJ Watt while still standing.

The Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest, as it’s known by conservationists, is the location of Big Lonely Doug, Canada’s second largest Douglas-fir tree, which stands alone in a clearcut at the base of the mountain, and is important habitat for endangered northern goshawks and marbled murrelets. It also contains one of the finest and most endangered lowland, valley-bottom, old-growth forests left on Vancouver Island: the spectacular Eden Grove.

60 percent of Edinburgh Mountain is available for logging, with the remaining 40 percent in tenuous forest reserves such as Old Growth Management Areas, whose boundaries can be adjusted to allow logging companies access to commercially valuable forests as they run out of timber elsewhere. The government contends that the removal of such protections requires the protection of other, similar forests, but often it results in the protection of lower quality stands with smaller trees than the original stand.

Just 50 meters away from the active cutblock stands a Douglas-fir tree that is the 6th widest Douglas-fir tree on record, according to the BC Big Tree Registry, and the 7th widest when including the Alberni Giant in the Nahmint Valley. While the near record-sized tree is located within a Wildlife Habitat Area, it remains vulnerable to future logging, as the designation legally allows clearcut logging in almost 75% of the reserve. In fact, in 2010 and 2012, some of the largest trees in Canada were logged within this Wildlife Habitat Area.

“The logging of Edinburgh Mountain not only threatens the ecological integrity of the area, it also extinguishes future tourism opportunities for Port Renfrew, a former logging town that has rebranded itself as the Tall Tree Capital of Canada,” stated Watt. “Hundreds of thousands of tourists have come from around the world in recent years to visit ancient forest groves, such as Avatar Grove, and some of Canada’s largest trees near the town. These visitors expect to see ancient forests, not clearcuts. If kept intact, Edinburgh Mountain could offer spectacular and long-term tourism and recreation opportunities for those visitors. Once it’s logged, those economic opportunities disappear too.”

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