Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner TJ Watt is seen next to a bigleaf maple tree. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance)

Conservationists want protection on ‘Canada’s most magnificent’ old-growth forest

The forest is in the San Juan River Valley near Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island

Conservationists in B.C. are pushing for protections on an area of old-growth forests they describe as “Canada’s most magnificent.”

The grove is located on Crown land in the San Juan River Valley near Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island in the unceded territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation band.

READ MORE: Ryan Reynolds to narrate movie about B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

The 13-hectare grove of immense old-growth Sitka spruce and big-leaf maples draped in hanging mosses and ferns was first located in October and explored again in late December, said Ken Wu, executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance.

“It is probably the most spectacular and beautiful old growth forest I’ve ever seen and I’ve explored a lot of old growth forests,” Wu said. ”(The trees) look shaggy because they’ve got all this hanging mosses and ferns on their branches. So they look like ancient prehistoric creatures.”

Most of the grove is unprotected, with a small portion — about four hectares — off-limits to loggers through the provincial government’s old-growth management area, he said.

Some of the trees in this grove are near-record sized, including a Sitka spruce with a diameter of 3.1 metres that would rank among the top 10 in the province, Wu said.

A massive maple that conservationists have nicknamed the “Woolly Giant” may have the longest horizontal branch of any tree in British Columbia, measuring 23.1 metres, he said.

“It’s covered in thick mats of hanging mosses and ferns, resembling a prehistoric monster.”

Wu said conservationists are calling this area of old-growth forests, “The “Mossome” Grove,” which is short for mossy and awesome.

“It includes lots of the tall, straight Sitka spruce like Roman pillars and they’re very impressive giants along with ancient moss covered shaggy, big-leaf maples,” he said.

It’s hard to say how old these trees are, Wu said.

“These are great growing conditions,” he said. “The trees can be as young as 400 years old but I would estimate around the 800-year-old range for the big spruce.”

Ancient Forest Alliance and other conservation groups are asking the provincial government to save not just this newly found old-growth forest but others too, he said.

This forest can be saved from logging if the provincial government simply extends its existing old growth management area, which currently protects about two hectares of this grove, he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Forests said in a statement that the grove is contained in a woodlot operated by Pacheedaht Forestry Ltd., and there is no imminent logging planned.

“The Ancient Forest Alliance supplied the ministry with an updated map of the grove area yesterday, so ministry staff are currently reviewing the map to determine what protections exist in the area,” it said.

Under the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan, over 13 per cent of Vancouver Island will never be logged, including 520,000 hectares of old growth forests, the statement said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Charis Village opens its doors to first tenants in Lacombe

Seniors housing facility opens independent living phase of development

Music in the Park cancelled until August

LPAC hopes to open if health regulations change

Lacombe’s ‘World’s Largest Lure’ is now Guinness World Record certified

Former Guinness World Record holder for Largest Fishing Lure is located in West, Texas, USA

Highlights of the Lacombe County council meeting – May 28, 2020

Next Regular Council Meeting is June 11, 2020 - 9:00 a.m.

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The Lacombe Express covers the stories that matter to you and to our community

PODCAST: The Expert tackles the return of sports

Cam Moon, Joe Whitbread, Byron Hackett and Todd Vaughan discuss how sports can come back

Social media, music world go dark for Black Out Tuesday

Social media, music world go dark for Black Out Tuesday

‘Normal People’ director Lenny Abrahamson used intimacy co-ordinator on set

‘Normal People’ director Lenny Abrahamson used intimacy co-ordinator on set

Palliative care has been put on the backburner during pandemic, experts say

Palliative care has been put on the backburner during pandemic, experts say

Alberta victim services group concerned government could ‘raid’ fund

Alberta victim services group concerned government could ‘raid’ fund

Fredette presents risk to public safety, correctional documents suggest

Fredette presents risk to public safety, correctional documents suggest

Confederate monuments coming down around South amid protests

Confederate monuments coming down around South amid protests

US cities gird for more violence as Trump decries ‘lowlifes’

US cities gird for more violence as Trump decries ‘lowlifes’

Most Read