Above: Before and after the clearcut in the Caycuse watershed. The clearcut is part of a cutblock located in Tree Farm Licence 46, held by the Teal-Jones Group.
Photo Credit: All photos in this story are by TJ Watt
Update from the front lines of BC’s old growth forests
Above: Before and after the clearcut in the Caycuse watershed
Eulogy for Ancient Trees
It was truly an incredible and unique grove. I was stunned by the sheer number of monumental red cedars, one after another, on this gentle mountain slope — TJ Watt
The Caycuse watershed — located southwest of Cowichan Lake, and east of Nitinat Lake, in the traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation — hosts some of the grandest forests on southern Vancouver Island.
In April 2020, photographer TJ Watt documented an ancient grove in the Caycuse watershed. He returned later that year to photograph the same area after the clearcut.
“It was truly an incredible and unique grove. I was stunned by the sheer number of monumental red cedars, one after another, on this gentle mountain slope,” said Watt.
“Giant cedars like these have immense ecological value, particularly as wildlife habitat, and important tourism and First Nations cultural value,” he continued.
“Yet the BC government continues to allow irreplaceable, centuries-old trees to be high-graded for short-term gain.”
Above: Roads are being built into the old growth forest adjacent to the clearcut near Haddon Creek in the Caycuse watershed
BC government fails to meet the first milestone
in its new approach to old-growth management
Dateline: July 17, 2019
The BC Government appoints a panel of two independent foresters, Garry Merkel and Al Gorley, to conduct an Old Growth Strategic Review on the ecological, economic and cultural importance of old-growth trees and forests.
Dateline: April 2020
After extensive public engagement, Merkel and Gorley submit their report to the Province.
The report titled A New Future for Ancient Forests makes 14 recommendations to be phased in over three years.
Dateline: Hazelton BC, September 11, 2020
The BC government announces a “new approach” to ancient forests based on recommendations from the old-growth review panel.
Initial actions include:
- engaging the full involvement of Indigenous leaders and organizations, and
- deferring old forest harvesting in nine areas throughout the province totaling 352,739 hectares as a first step
Dateline: Victoria BC, on unceded Lekwungen territories, March 11, 2020
Three environmental NGOs issue a Report Card on the progress of the new forest strategy.
According to the Report Card: To date, the government has only deferred about 3,800 hectares from harvesting — less than 1% of the most at-risk old-growth.
The BC government gets a failing grade.
Update: March 21, 2021, on the Fairy Creek blockade near Port Renfrew BC
Teal-Jones Group is seeking a court injunction to end the seven-month blockade by activists in the Fairy Creek watershed on traditional Pacheedaht territory. Fairy Creek is one of the last intact old-growth valleys on southern Vancouver Island. According to the Ancient Forest Alliance, massive ancient yellow cedars trees appear to be within a proposed cutblock.
A two-day injunction hearing is scheduled to start March 25.
Activists at the Fairy Creek blockade are preparing for civil disobedience.
Above: Massive tree stump after a clearcut in the Caycuse watershed