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BC Government Commended for Protecting 1600 Hectares of Extremely Endangered Coastal Douglas Fir Ecosystem

Media Release, August 3, 2010

BC Government Commended for Protecting 1600 Hectares of Extremely Endangered Coastal Douglas Fir Ecosystem
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An example of the Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem as seen in Francis King regional park near Victoria, BC.
Photo by TJ Watt

The Ancient Forest Alliance is thanking the Ministry of Forests and Range, the Integrated Land Management Bureau, and Forest Minister Pat Bell for protecting 1600 hectares of public (Crown) lands within the Coastal Douglas Fir biogeoclimatic zone on southeastern Vancouver Island.


The five parcels of Crown lands between Nanaimo and Courtenay have been made off limits to logging through new Land Use Orders. These new additions have increased protection in the Coastal Douglas Fir zone from 7600 hectares to 9200 hectares.


“This is a major leap forward in protection for one of Canada’s most endangered ecosystems, much of which today lies underneath the cities of Victoria, Nanaimo, and Duncan. The protected areas include pockets of old-growth Douglas firs and a large array of rare and sensitive habitats,“ stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance campaign director. “Today we’re giving great thanks to the BC government for starting to rekindle some forest protection policies on Vancouver Island. We hope they will continue along this trajectory, because so much more needs protecting and so little time remains in an area under intense development pressure.“

The Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem is considered to be among the top four most endangered ecosystems in Canada, along with the Tallgrass Prairie in Manitoba, the Carolinian Forest in southern Ontario, and the “Pocket Desert“ near Osoyoos in southern BC. Only 1% of the original old-growth forests remain in the Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem, and about 50% of the entire ecosystem has already been completely eliminated by agriculture and urbanization. The ecosystem is characterized by its mild, Mediterranean-like climate, trees like the Douglas fir, Garry oak and arbutus, and large numbers of species at risk such as the alligator lizard and sharp-tailed snake.


Less than 10% of the Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem lies on public (Crown) lands while over 90% is privately owned. In order to establish an ecologically viable protected areas network in the Coastal Douglas Fir zone, the Ancient Forest Alliance advocates the protection of all of the Crown land parcels within the zone and the establishment of a joint provincial-federal parkland acquisition fund of at least $40 million/year ($20 million from each level of government) to purchase private lands for the establishment of new protected areas.

“While the BC government has taken a great step forward in moving to protect this ecosystem, they are taking a destructive stance in regards to the Nanoose Bay old-growth forest. They seriously need to change their direction about the site – there needs to be an immediate ban on all logging of the last 1% of old-growth forest in the Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem, it really should be a no-brainer,“ stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer.


The Nanoose Bay old-growth forest, or cutblock DL-33, is a 60 hectare tract of old-growth and second-growth Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem imminently threatened by logging. Local citizens are working hard to save the stand, but the Ministry of Forests and Range currently insists that the logging will take place.


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