Category: Old Growth Trees

The coastal temperate rain forests of British Columbia are among the rarest ecosystems on the planet. Climate change is causing historic droughts, floods, wildfires and extreme weather events. Yet we continue to clear cut our most resilient and carbon rich forests.

Demand the BC government implement a new approach to forest management

Above: Caycuse watershed, before and after clearcut by the Teal-Jones Group

Credits: All photos in this story by TJ Watt

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

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

March 2021, we bring an update from the frontlines of BC’s old‑growth forests.

Photo: Caycuse watershed before and after clearcut

Above: Before and after the clearcut in the Caycuse watershed

Three environmental NGOs give the Province’s “new” approach to old‑growth management a failing grade.

In the mean time, activists protecting ancient cedars at Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew, prepare for civil disobedience.

What You Can Do to Help

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

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

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Above: Massive tree stump after a 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

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 it was clearcut.

The Caycuse watershed — located southwest of Cowichan Lake in the traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation — hosts some of the grandest forests on southern Vancouver Island.

“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

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.

Dateline: March 21, 2021, Update on 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: Recent old-growth logging by Teal-Jones adjacent to the Fairy Creek Valley

Vancouver Unitarians Join Extinction Rebellion at Cambie Bridge Shut Down

Above: We joined the die-in at the intersection of Broadway and Cambie, then marched to the middle of the Cambie bridge for the sit‑in

Above: Vancouver Unitarians Carry the Flame at the Cambie Bridge Sit‑In

A group of Vancouver Unitarians, including Mairy Beam, Rob Dainow, and Vivian Davidson, joined several hundred protesters at the March 27 Extinction Rebellion march for old growth trees and climate justice.

“Logging old growth directly violates Extinction Rebellion’s demand to Act Now,” said Kelly Tatham, a volunteer with Extinction Rebellion.

We are all standing up for the climate and for our ecosystems, whenever we can and in whatever ways we can. Every little bit counts.

Protect Old Growth Forests – Letter Writing Materials

Above: Castle Grove, Walbran Valley / Photo Credit: TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance

Mythical, awe-inspiring, ecologically rich, and endangered – old growth forests are unprotected by legislation! Andrea Inness, a forest campaigner with Ancient Forest Alliance, was the guest speaker for the Environment Team’s forum on May 5th.  The Environment Team urges you to write a letter to Minister Donaldson to support strong action to benefit BC’s forests and communities. Sample Letter to Minister Donaldson

Please keep reading to see how you can help protect Old Growth Forests in British Columbia.

B.C.’s old-growth and communities are in crisis. Raw log exports are at a record high and mills are closing. Climate change and massive forest fires are here to stay. But we are still clearcutting our most resilient and carbon rich forests at an alarming rate.

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What we are calling for

The science is clear: to sustainably manage coastal rainforests we must stop clearcutting endangered old-growth. B.C. needs a provincial Old-Growth Protection Act using elements of the celebrated Great Bear Rainforest Agreements combined with strong support for First Nations and good long term forestry jobs.

We also need an immediate halt to logging in critical intact old-growth hotspots. This will protect magnificent areas like the Central Walbran that are immediately threatened with destruction.

Taking these steps will help us to:
Protect globally rare ecosystems, wildlife, water and climate
Strengthen First Nations’ governance and community well-being
Transition from old-growth logging to sustainable second-growth forestry

BC’s coastal temperate rainforests are among the rarest ecosystems on the planet, but today only 10% of Vancouver Island’s biggest old-growth trees are left. Because of climate change, these forests will never grow back as we knew them—if we cut them, they’ll be gone forever.

Using logging data and age class information Sierra Club BC estimates the total number of hectares of old-growth logged on Vancouver Island at about 1,708,000 hectares (without including original forests lost to deforestation, e.g. urban areas). More than 10,000 hectares of old-growth got logged in the last 12 months alone, equivalent to more than 3 square meters per second. Today, the vast majority of the remaining old-growth on the Island belongs to ecosystems with smaller trees not targeted for logging (for example along the outer coast or in higher elevations). Only about 10 percent of the biggest trees remain standing. For more information, check out our backgrounder.

The NDP’s 2017 election platform included a commitment to act for old-growth, promising to take “an evidence-based scientific approach and use the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model.” But so far the BC government has not yet taken any meaningful steps to protect endangered coastal and inland oldgrowth ecosystems outside the Great Bear Rainforest.

Please tell Forests Minister Doug Donaldson you support strong action to benefit BC’s forests and communities. Please refer to sample letter below for ideas.

Sample Letter to Minister Donaldson