WATCH: Conservationists are calling to stop plans to log an old-growth forest near Port Renfrew. The province says ecology and aesthetics are taken into consideration when crown-owned timber is auctioned off, but critics say the damage outweighs the benefits, Kori Sidaway reports.
Port Renfrew’s towering trees have stood for millennia.
“This is what makes Port Renfrew unique!” said TJ Watt, a campaigner with Ancient Forest Alliance.
“People will travel from across the world to see these ancient cathedrals, but once they’re gone they’re gone.”
And the stage may be set to have just that, happen.
One hundred and nine hectares of old growth forests, sitting on crown land bordering Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, is in the process of being auctioned off to logging companies.
“This would result in giant clear cuts, and actually the wood volume is equivalent to about 1300 logging trucks worth of old growth,” said Watt.
Old growth forests aren’t fully protected in B.C., and activists say that’s endangering tourism in the area.
“Port Renfrew has successfully rebranded itself as the tall tree capital of Canada in recent years and they’re seeing a boom because of that,” said Watt.
“They’re adapting a more sustainable economy based in the 21st century whereas the B.C. government is trying to hold it in the past.”
It’s something places like Soule Creek Lodge, with its 270-degree views of the rainforest, agree with.
“They’re worth much more standing than lying down,” said Jon Cash who owns Soule Creek Lodge.
“Whichever private forestry company is successful in getting this bid, they’re going to have a fight.”
Both businesses and activists are calling on the government to end the auction and to stop issuing permits for old-growth forests not just here, but throughout the province.
Something, the government isn’t prepared to do.
“Immediately ending logging in old-growth forests would affect over 24,000 people employed in the coastal forest sector,” said the Ministry of Forestry in a statement.
The ministry does say, however, they are working on a new old-growth strategy, and those discussions are ongoing with stakeholders.
The auction for the land ends on April 27th.