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Conservationists thank the Pacheedaht First Nation for extending protection over 18 hectares of “Jurassic Grove” near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island – Stunning Old-Growth Forest getting closer

Ancient Forest Alliance, November 10, 2017

Conservationists thank the Pacheedaht First Nation for extending protection over 18 hectares of “Jurassic Grove” near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island – Stunning Old-Growth Forest getting closer
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AFA's Campaigner and Photographer, TJ Watt, stands beside a giant ancient red cedar tree found in "Jurassic Grove"

The Ancient Forest Alliance is thanking the Pacheedaht First Nation band for proposing expanded protection for an 18 hectare portion of the stunning “Jurassic Grove”, a monumental old-growth forest of giant redcedars, Douglas-fir, and Sitka spruce trees located a 90 minute drive west of Victoria between Jordan River and Port Renfrew. The proposed expansion in the new management plan of Tree Farm Licence 61, partly owned by the Pacheedaht band, would protect about 30% of the 61 hectares that are still unprotected in the Jurassic Grove (total grove size is 130 hectares). The spectacular grove stands on Crown lands adjacent to the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, in the unceded traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation. See the original media release about Jurassic Grove, identified earlier this year as an exceptional old-growth grove by the Ancient Forest Alliance at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1116 and a Times Colonist piece at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/avatar-grove-the-sequel-introducing-jurassic-grove-1.18540489

“We want to thank the Pacheedaht First Nation for proposing the new protection, this is good news. This is an important step forward for the protection of Jurassic Grove, encompassing 18 hectares of some of the grandest ancient forests left on planet earth. Saving rare giants like these thousand year old trees is like protecting a herd of endangered elephants or rhinos these days - it needs to happen”, stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director.

“We encourage the Pacheedaht and the province to consider protecting the remaining portion of Jurassic Grove, as the additional 43 hectares includes the finest, most accessible parts of the grove on the flatter and gentler terrain – the areas that tourists would be able to readily visit. As many people know, we believe the long-term, sustainable economic future for the Port Renfrew region lies in large part in eco-tourism, which the region has greatly embraced in recent years, currently centred around the Avatar Grove – and perhaps the Jurassic Grove in the future”, stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance photographer and campaigner.

“Lowland old-growth groves on southern Vancouver Island with the classic giants like this are about as rare as finding a Sasquatch these days, with over 95% of them having been logged on the South Island. This is one of the most magnificent unprotected groves in the world, and it’s even easier than the Avatar Grove to get to, along a major paved highway”, stated Andrea Inness, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner.

The new management plan for Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 61, licenced to Pacheedaht Andersen Timber Holdings LP, shows a series of newly proposed Old-Growth Management Areas totaling about 18 hectares of the unprotected portions of the Jurassic Grove. The Jurassic Grove is an old-growth forest that is about 130 hectares in total size, with 70 hectares protected in a pre-existing Wildlife Habitat Area (for the threatened marbled murrelet, a seabird that only nests in old-growth trees), another 18 hectares of newly proposed protections by the Pacheedaht band, and another 43 hectares remaining on unprotected Crown lands which the Ancient Forest Alliance would also like to see protected through new Old-Growth Management Areas (and perhaps one day added to the adjacent Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, at which time "Jurassic Grove" will become "Jurassic Park"). Public comments for the Management Plan close on November 15.

The Ancient Forest Alliance believes that the Pacheedaht would greatly benefit from developing a cultural/eco-tourism industry that showcases ancient forests like the Jurassic Grove, which is one of the grandest (with trees that are 16 feet or 5 metres wide) and most accessible (near the main highway, near Jordan River, with key sections on gentle flat terrain) old-growth forests in Pacheedaht territory. Earlier this year, the Pacheedaht band expanded and upgraded their ocean-front campground where many visitors to the Avatar Grove stay, and they have now completed construction of a new gas station in Port Renfrew which just opened yesterday (see https://www.sookenewsmirror.com/news/new-port-renfrew-gas-station-promotes-community-growth/ and http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/jack-knox-port-renfrew-community-reborn-and-it-s-a-gas-1.23090134) and which the Ancient Forest Alliance is encouraging all “tall tree tourists” who visit the area to gas-up at.

In the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii, conservation groups along with the provincial and federal governments have been helping to finance the sustainable economic development and diversification of First Nation communities to develop tourism and other businesses compatible with the expanded protection of old-growth forests in those regions, with about $120 million in conservation financing provided along with millions of dollars of additional carbon offsetting funds. The AFA and other BC environmental groups are asking that the BC government also look at conservation financing options for other First Nations in BC who may be interested in expanding protection for old-growth forests in their territories.

The Ancient Forest Alliance has been discussing conservation and access issues regarding the Jurassic Grove with the Pacheedaht First Nation band. While the dialogue is underway, the organization is not yet encouraging the public to try visiting the grove, most of which has no trails, has an extremely dense understory, and which is punctuated with steep ravines that are treacherous to traverse.

Jurassic Grove’s easy to access location makes it a potential first rate ancient forest attraction that can help to raise the awareness of all endangered old-growth forests and bolster the regional eco-tourism industry. Port Renfrew, historically a logging town that now promotes eco-tourism and has been dubbed the “Tall Trees Capital of Canada” in recent years due to its proximity to the Avatar Grove, Central Walbran Valley, Big Lonely Doug (Canada’s 2ndlargest Douglas-fir), Eden Grove, Red Creek Fir (the world’s largest Douglas-fir), Harris Creek Spruce (an enormous Sitka spruce), and San Juan Spruce (previously Canada’s largest spruce until the top broke off last year), now has the Jurassic Grove as potentially another first rate addition to its roster of big tree attractions. Thousands of tourists from around the world now come to visit the old-growth trees around Port Renfrew, hugely bolstering the regional economy of southern Vancouver Island. The Ancient Forest Alliance is encouraging people who visit the area to stay in local accommodations, buy food and groceries in local stores, buy gas from the new Pacheedaht-owned gas station in town, and camp in the Pacheedaht campground to help boost the local economy with eco-tourism dollars.

The Ancient Forest Alliance calling on the BC government to implement a comprehensive science-based plan to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests, and to also ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry.

The Green Party, which holds the balance of power for the NDP minority government, is in favour of protecting BC’s endangered old-growth forests, while the NDP’s 2017 election platform states that “In partnership with First Nations and communities, we will modernize land-use planning to effectively and sustainably manage BC’s ecosystems… forests and old growth...We will take an evidence-based scientific approach and use the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model.” (see page 61 of their platform at: https://action.bcndp.ca/page/-/bcndp/docs/BC-NDP-Platform-2017.pdf). If taken literally and seriously, this would almost certainly result in the protection of the remaining endangered old-growth forest on BC’s southern coast and in the BC Interior, where old-growth forests are far scarcer and more endangered than in the Central and Northern Coast (Great Bear Rainforest) where 85% of the forests (including the vast majority of the old-growth) were set aside in protected areas and under the ecosystem-based management.

More Information on Old-Growth Forests

In recent times, the voices for old-growth protection have been quickly expanding, including numerous Chambers of Commerce, mayors and city councils, forestry unions, and conservation groups across BC who have been calling on the provincial government to expand protection for BC’s remaining old-growth forests.

BC’s premier business lobby, the BC Chamber of Commerce, representing 36,000 businesses, passed a resolution in 2016 calling on the province to expand protection for BC’s old-growth forests to support the economy, after a series of similar resolutions passed by the Port Renfrew, Sooke, and WestShore Chambers of Commerce. See: www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1010

Both the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), representing the mayors, city and town councils, and regional districts across BC, and Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC), representing Vancouver Island local governments, passed a resolution last year calling on the province to protect the Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests by amending the 1994 land use plan. See: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1057

The Private and Public Workers of Canada (PPWC), formerly the Pulp, Paper, and Woodworkers of Canada, representing thousands of sawmill and pulp mill workers across BC, passed a resolution earlier this year calling for an end to old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. See: http://ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1100

The Ahousaht First Nation band north of Tofino in Clayoquot Sound announced earlier this year that 82% of their territory will be off-limits to commercial logging. They now need provincial legislation and funding to help make their vision a reality. See: https://www.desmog.ca/2017/01/27/first-nation-just-banned-industrial-logging-and-mining-vancouver-island-territory

Old-growth forests are vital to sustain unique endangered species, climate stability, tourism, clean water, wild salmon, and the cultures of many First Nations. On BC’s southern coast, satellite photos show that at least 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have been logged, including well over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. Only about 8% of Vancouver Island’s original, productive old-growth forests are protected in parks and Old-Growth Management Areas. Old-growth forests – with trees that can be 2000 years old - are a non-renewable resource under BC’s system of forestry, where second-growth forests are re-logged every 50 to 100 years, never to become old-growth again.

See maps and stats on the remaining old-growth forests on BC’s southern coast at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php

In order to placate public fears about the loss of BC’s endangered old-growth forests, the logging industry’s PR-spin typically over-inflates the amount of remaining old-growth forests by including hundreds of thousands of hectares of marginal, low productivity forests growing in bogs and at high elevations with smaller, stunted trees, lumped in with the productive old-growth forests where the large trees grow (and where most logging takes place), while at the same time failing to include vast tracts of cut-over corporate-owned forest lands (which were managed as if they were public lands until recent years) which along with other private lands constitute about 800,000 hectares or ¼ of Vancouver Island, in their stats. See a rebuttal to some of the industry PR-spin and stats about old-growth forests towards the BOTTOM of the webpage: https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1052

The Ancient Forest Alliance calling on the BC government to implement a comprehensive science-based plan to protect all of BC’s remaining endangered old-growth forests, and to also ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry.


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