Vancouver Island is home to some of the Earth’s most spectacular, ancient temperate forests, including the world’s largest Douglas fir tree (the Red Creek Fir) and western red cedar tree (the Cheewhat Cedar). The 32000 square kilometer island’s forests are diverse: from wet rainforests with towering, mossy Sitka spruce trees and gnarly red cedars with trunks wider than a car’s length; to dry East Side forests with contorted Garry oak and arbutus trees and massive Douglas firs; to high elevation, slow-growing yellow cedars and mountain hemlocks covered in beard lichens.
The Western Canada Wilderness Committee is calling on the BC government to protect the ancient forests of Vancouver Island by immediately banning logging in the most endangered old-growth forest types and quickly phasing-out old-growth logging from the rest of Vancouver Island by 2015, with a rapid transition to second-growth logging at a slower, more sustainable rate of cut.
Other jurisdictions, including New Zealand and southwestern Australia, have banned old-growth logging in recent years. BC can feasibly do the same for Vancouver Island, as already 90% of the richest valley bottom forests (where logging is most profitable) have already been converted into second growth forests where logging can occur at a reduced pace, while freeing-up the remaining ancient forests for protection.
The most recent photo analysis based on 2004 LandSat satellite images shows that:
73% of the original productive old-growth forests of Vancouver Island have been logged. ie. 27% remained by 2004.
87% of the original productive old-growth forests on southern Vancouver Island, south of Barkley Sound/Alberni Canal, have been logged. ie.13% remains
90% of the low elevation (less than 300 meters above sea level), flat (less than 17% slope) ancient forests, such as the valley bottoms, where the largest trees grow and the greatest biodiversity resides, have been logged. ie. 10% remains
Only 6% of Vancouver Island’s productive forest lands are protected in our parks system.
Only 1% of the original old-growth Coastal Douglas fir zone is protected.
Less than 1% of the original very dry eastern Coastal Western Hemlock forests are protected.
Only 2% of the original very dry western Coastal Western Hemlock forests are protected.
Click on maps for larger versions
Vancouver Island forest cover 1860
Forest cover on Vancouver Island in 1860
(prior to European settlement). Vancouver Island forest cover 2004
Forest cover on Vancouver Island in 2004. The yellow areas were previously logged and are now second-growth forests, clearcuts, agricultural lands, and urban developments.
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South Vancouver Island forest cover 1860
Forest cover on southern Vancouver Island in 1860.
South Vancouver Island forest cover 2004
Forest cover on southern Vancouver Island in 2004.
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As such, the WCWC is calling for:
An immediate ban on old-growth logging in the East Side ecosystems (eg. Coastal Douglas fir, very dry Coastal Western Hemlock ecosystems) of Vancouver Island.
An immediate ban on old-growth logging south of Barkley Sound/ Alberni Canal/ Horne Lake
An immediate ban on all flat (less than 17% slope), valley bottom old-growth forests and on logging at low elevations below 300 metres.
A 5 year and 9 year phase-out of old-growth logging (depending on the forest types) over the rest of Vancouver Island, with a transition to slower, second-growth logging.
logged old growth tree
Other parts of our demands include:
Banning raw log exports on Crown and private corporate lands.
Establishing regional log markets where logs would be made available to value-added wood manufacturers through an open-bidding process.
Expanding Community Forestry Tenures, First Nations tenures, and Woodlot Licenses in second-growth Crown forests.
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Enacting new legislation to restrict the ability of tenure holders to contract out for their logging activities..
Restoring public service employment levels in the Ministry of Forests, Environment, and Agriculture and Lands
Establishing a workers transition fund from increased stumpage fee payments by corporations for the retraining of laid-off forestry workers.
Using the Forest Investment funds to assist in the development of a value-added wood industry.
Reducing the rate of cut down to a minimum 250 year rotation.
Establishing strong forest practices regulations based on Ecosystem-Based Management principles.
Establishing a new Land Use Plan for Vancouver Island to expand protected areas in all ecosystem types, including in old-growth and second-growth forests. A new Vancouver Island Land Use Plan should be based on conservation biology science, open public input, and First Nations consultation and accommodation (including incorporating First Nations-devised Land Use Plans).
Ensuring that all land use and resource allocation changes by the BC government undergo meaningful consultation and accommodation of First Nations title interests.
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Once major industrial logging of ancient forests has ended, small Old-Growth Logging Reserves can be established in West Side forest types (ie. wet hypermaritime and wet maritime Coastal Western Hemlock forests) where the old-growth is more extensive. These Old-Growth Logging Reserves would be available to supply a small quantity of logs for the high-end, value-added wood manufacturing sector (eg. furniture manufacturers) and would only allow single-tree selection logging, with a rate of cut less than the annual growth rate of the productive forests on those lands. In total, these Old-Growth Logging Reserves should cover less than 5% of the remaining productive old-growth in those forest types.
TAKE ACTION to protect Vancouver Island’s Ancient Forests!
For further information please contact:
Western Canada Wilderness Committee – Victoria chapter
651 Johnson Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1M7
Fax: (250) 388-9223
The WCWC would like to thank the Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) in Victoria for their generous support of our efforts to protect Greater Victoria’s ancient forests.
We’d like to say special thanks to our sponsors who have helped us through such hard times by providing us with funding to fight this: