Andrea Inness of Ancient Forest Alliance stands on a giant Douglas fir recently felled in the Nahmint Valley. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

B.C. ‘legacy tree’ policy under review after ancient fir logged

Old-growth logging in central Vancouver Island draws rebuke

  • Jun. 8, 2018 1:43 p.m.

BY MIKE YOUDS

Special to the News

B.C. Timber Sales is reviewing its best management practices for legacy trees with the intent of strengthening a policy brought into question by old-growth logging near Port Alberni.

The Crown agency (BCTS) and the B.C. government have been roundly criticized in recent weeks by conservationists and local First Nations for continuing to allow logging of ancient fir and cedar in the Nahmint Valley.

Researchers aligned with the lobby group Ancient Forest Alliance pinpointed the logging last month of what was the ninth largest Douglas fir. They maintain that it’s one of many old-growth giants still being levelled in Vancouver Island forests.

READ: Blame for felled Nahmint giant placed on NDP

“Although it should be a no-brainer to protect B.C.’s biggest trees, what we ultimately need is protection for endangered forest ecosystems, which are under siege by commercial logging. Almost 11,000 hectares of old-growth forests were cut on Vancouver Island in 2016,” said Andrea Inness, an alliance campaigner. “And where better to start protecting old-growth than at the government’s own logging agency, B.C. Timber Sales?”

Immediately west of Port Alberni, the valley contains some of the most extensive stands of old-growth forest on Vancouver Island left standing outside of Clayoquot Sound. The area lies in the territory of Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations.

The Crown agency is overseen by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, which confirmed that the old-growth Douglas fir cited by Ancient Forest Alliance was part of Crown lands auctioned off before new policy was in place.

“With regard to the specific tree mentioned in the (Ancient Forest Alliance) news release, BCTS’ best management practices on legacy trees came into effect after that specific timber sale was laid out,” the ministry stated. “BCTS is also reviewing this policy to make it stronger.”

In its current form, policy requires any Douglas fir wider than 2.1 metres and any cedar wider than three metres to be left standing. The felled Nahmint fir was three metres in diameter.

Since August 2016, BCTS has awarded five timber sales totalling 319 hectares in the valley. The ministry noted, however, that there are 2,760 hectares of old growth protected in the “Nahmint landscape unit.”

BCTS has identified 250 old-growth cedar trees to be spared from logging in the Nahmint, the ministry said. As well, the ministry maintains that old growth forest is not far from a rare commodity on the Island, representing 43 percent of 1.9 million hectares of Crown forest on the Island. A large proportion of that old growth — 520,000 hectares — is protected.

Despite reassurances, conservation groups insist that government is exaggerating the extent of highly productive old growth, specifically trees ranging from 500 to 1,000 years old. Cut blocks in the Nahmint Valley auctioned by BCTS extend into areas where those oldest trees are found and don’t provide enough buffer to retain old-growth ecosystems, the alliance says.

Mike Stini of the Port Alberni Watershed Alliance was among those who identified the fir when it was still standing this spring.

“To see it lying on the ground two weeks later was devastating, especially since these big, old Douglas firs are now endangered after a century of commercial logging,” Stini said. “There are less than one percent of the old-growth Douglas-firs on the coast remaining. It’s like finding a huge black rhino or Siberian tiger that’s been shot. There are simply too few today and logging the last of these giants shouldn’t be allowed to happen anymore in B.C.”

RELATED: Nahmint Valley’s a gem for outdoor rec

Just Posted

VIDEO: Local athletes fell their competition at Port McNeill Logger Sports event

The Briscoe sisters will be travelling to upcoming Logger Sports shows all throughout the summer.

Remains of two people found in Ucluelet

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to Ryan Daley or Dan Archbald

‘Daddy bonus’ common in B.C. workplaces, study finds

UBC researchers say dads don’t have to be number one in the office to get a raise

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

Crush win again – outlasting Blue Sox at Father’s Day Classic

The Blue Sox had an early lead after three innings, but the Crush responded back with heavy hitting.

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Canadian military police officer pleads not guilty to sex assault

Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, 48, entered his plea today at a court martial proceeding in Halifax

June/July Hot Spots

Find out what’s going on in the North Island (June 20-27)

North Island College gets $328,000 for forestry education funding

Announcement in Campbell River part of $1 million around B.C.

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Border officials argue B.C. man’s Facebook posts threat to Canada’s security

A B.C. Supreme Court judge acquitted Othman Hamdan of terrorism charges last September

Reena Virk’s mother has died

Both of Virk’s parents became activists against bullying in wake of daughter’s death

Most Read