WATCH: There’s growing outrage after one of Canada’s biggest old growth trees was cut down near Port Alberni. Tess van Straaten has the latest.
They’re the giants of the forest ? massive, old-growth western red cedars and Douglas firs ? and images of these towering trees being cut down have sparked outrage.
“The visuals that we’re starting to see come out the latest cutting of old growth forest is really devastating,” says B.C. Green Party forestry critic Adam Olsen. “It’s important we’re protecting the old stands, especially on Vancouver Island where we have so little old growth left”
Olsen says he’s shocked the B.C. NDP government is letting it happen.
“What we’re seeing right now is the liquidation of our forests!” says Olsen. “Frankly, this government has continued the exact same policy as the Liberal government did. That’s not what my expectation was. My expectation was for them to re-invigorate the forestry industry and make sure we’re not liquidating our forests.”
The logging is taking place in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni.
B.C. Timber Sales, an agency of the provincial government, auctioned off more than 300 hectares of old growth forest to logging companies. Trees hundreds of years old are being cut down, including a tree considered the tenth widest Douglas fir in the province, according to the B.C. BigTree registry, and one of the largest in Canada.
“This Douglas fir is 10 feet in diameter,” says Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder TJ Watt. “There’s less than one per cent of the old growth Douglas fir trees remaining today on B.C.’s coast and this is just unacceptable.”
There are guidelines for the protection of ‘legacy trees’ ? defined as exceptionally old or unique stands, like nearby Cathedral Grove, but these trees weren’t protected.
“There’s over 3,000 hectares in that valley alone of protected old growth forest so it’s a balancing act and we acknowledge that people have been waiting for change around that,” says forestry minister Doug Donaldson. “We’ve inherited a lot of this from the previous government and we’re working on addressing those concerns.”
The province says it’s working on modernizing the land use plan.
As it stands now, only about 55 per cent of old growth forests on crown land are protected.