Eulogy for Ancient Trees

Demand the BC government meet its promise to implement a new approach to forest management

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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

In May 2019, Andrea Inness from the Ancient Forest Alliance spoke at the First Sunday Forum. She talked about the critical importance of legislation to protect BC’s remaining ancient forests.

The Enviro Team followed up with a letter writing campaign urging the BC Forests Minister to work with First Nations to implement a science-based Old-Growth Protection Act.

Nearly two years later, we bring an update from the frontlines of BC’s ancient forests.

  1. In July 2019, the BC government appointed a two-person panel to lead an Old Growth Strategic Review.
  2. In November 2019 and April, 2020, photographer TJ Watt visited the Caycuse watershed near Cowichan Lake, in Ditidaht territory, to document the loss of a grove of ancient red cedars to clearcut logging.
  3. On Sept 11, 2020, the BC government announced a “new approach” to ancient forests and stated it would defer old-growth harvesting in “nine areas of the province totaling 352,739 hectares as a first step.”
  4. On March 11, 2021, three environmental NGOs issued a progress report stating, to date, the government has only deferred about 3,800 hectares — less than 1% of the most at-risk old-growth forests.
  5. Meanwhile, 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.

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Above: Before and after the clearcut in the Caycuse watershed

Eulogy for Ancient Trees

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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.”

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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 announces it has appointed 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.

After extensive public engagement, Merkel and Gorley submitted their report to the Province in April 2020.

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 panel lead by Merkel and Gorley. Initial actions to 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. They give the BC government a failing grade.

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.

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.

What You Can Do to Help

Call Premier John Horgan and Forests Minister Katrine Conroy. Demand they halt logging in at-risk ancient forests across the Province.


  250-387-1715    BC Premier John Horgan

  250 387-6240    BC Forests Minister Katrine Conroy

1-800-663-7867    toll-free Government of British Columbia

Hold the BC government to its promise to implement the recommendations set out in the report A New Future for Ancient Forests

Above: Massive tree stump after a clearcut in the Caycuse watershed

Above: Recent old-growth logging by Teal-Jones adjacent to the Fairy Creek Valley


Categories:

Environment • Old growth trees