WATCH: Questions have been raised after the 10th widest Douglas fir tree in BC BigTree Registry is cut down.
The Nahmint Valley south of Sproat Lake near Port Alberni is a spectacular piece of Vancouver Island. The mountains are tall and so are the trees, but the conservation group Ancient Forest Alliance says too many of the tallest and oldest trees are being cut down.
The group recently became aware of logging in the area and on a recent trip saw an orange ribbon with "Falling Boundary" written it.
It was near a Douglas fir that was over three metres wide and was the 10th widest Douglas fir tree in B.C. according to the BC BigTree registry.
On a return trip a few days later, it had been cut down.
"We're standing here right beside a Douglas fir tree that was cut down just this past week, larger than the largest one at Cathedral Grove," said TJ Watt, co-founder of Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA), on Friday. "This Douglas fir is 10 feet in diameter, there's less than one per cent of the old growth Douglas fir trees remaining today on BC's coast and this is just unacceptable."
The group says it is not against logging at all but insists that remaining old growth trees in B.C. need to be saved.
"It's kind of like shooting the tigers in India right? They used to shoot a lot of tigers now we don't anymore," said local Port Alberni conservationist Mike Stini. "It's about saving something that's rare and endangered."
The Ancient Forest Alliance says it is hypocritical that Premier John Horgan who when in opposition visited Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew in efforts to save old growth trees there but now as premier, he is allowing the government agency BC Timber Sales to auction off 300 hectares of old growth forests in the Nahmint Valley to logging companies.
"And B.C. Timber Sales is meant to be implementing what they call best management practices for legacy trees. Legacy trees being those that meet certain criteria in terms of size. This would absolutely fall within that category." said Ancient Forest Alliance's Andrea Inness.
A statement to CHEK News from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development reads: "There are 2,760 hectares of old growth protected in the Nahmint landscape unit. Since August 2016, BCTS has awarded five timber sales totalling 319 hectares. On Vancouver Island’s public lands, there are about 520,000 hectares of old growth forests that will never be logged. Government is continuously reviewing practices to ensure healthy ecosystems and that logging is sustainable."
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson said: "The new government is committed to modernizing the land use planning process, and protecting old growth forests is a vital component of that. As part of Budget 2018, we committed $16 million over three years to modernizing the land use planning process and work has begun. The first step is collaborating with Indigenous Peoples. More information about land use planning will be coming this fall."
"Over 55 per centof Crown old growth forests on B.C.’s coast are protected. On Vancouver Island, over 40 per cent of Crown forests are considered old growth, with 520,000 hectares that will never be logged. The Vancouver Island Land Use Plan designated areas for protection and areas suitable for resource development, including logging. Logging continues to support jobs in communities such as Port Alberni." added Donaldson.
But the Ancient Forest Alliance doesn't agree.
"The B.C. government is deceptively playing with numbers by including vast areas of much smaller trees growing on high rocky mountainsides to inflate their old-growth statistics, in order to mask their logging of the very rare monumental stands of the biggest trees in the valley bottoms and low elevations - where over 90 per cent have been logged, including 99 per cent of the old-growth Douglas-firs on the coast." said TJ Watt.