Ancient Forest Alliance welcomes proposed interim protection for Avatar Grove
But calls for protection of all endangered old-growth forests
Ancient Forest Alliance, September 7, 2011
Today the BC government officially proposed to designate the entire Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew as an Old-Growth Management Area (OGMA), pending completion of a 60 day public review period. An Old-Growth Management Area would prohibit logging in the 49 hectare stand of monumental ancient trees. The Avatar Grove’s designation as an OGMA is being welcomed by the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) as an important interim protection for the exceptional grove, which the organization would eventually like to see designated as a provincial conservancy or park.
“The Avatar Grove is an exceptional stand of extremely rare valley-bottom ancient forest that is easy to get to, unlike most other old-growth stands that are on steep slopes, far away on bumpy logging roads. It is fast becoming a pillar of the local economy, not unlike being ‘the Cathedral Grove of Port Renfrew’, and is BC’s most heavily visited unprotected ancient forest. As such we support the Avatar Grove being declared off-limits to logging as an Old-Growth Management Area,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder. “Our much larger goal is to end logging of all endangered old-growth forests because there is so little left, and to ensure sustainable logging of second-growth forests. The BC government needs to devise a comprehensive Provincial Old-Growth Strategy towards these ends.”
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) is proposing to designated 49 hectares as an Avatar Grove Old-Growth Management Area, as well as an additional 10 hectares of old-growth forests near Axe Creek., for a total of 59 hectares within OGMA’s. However, 57 hectares of OGMA’s will be removed to compensate the logging licensee, Teal-Jones, in Tree Farm Licence 46 for the protection of the Avatar Grove and Axe Creek areas.
“Our goal is to protect all of our endangered old-growth forests, not just the Avatar Grove. As such we’re against the removal of any existing old-growth protections, because so little old-growth remains,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer. “Our ancient forests are vital for supporting endangered species, the climate, clean water, tourism, and many First Nations cultures.”
The Avatar Grove was found by the Ancient Forest Alliance’s TJ Watt in December of 2009, and shortly thereafter was flagged for logging in February of 2010. The AFA has been working with the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce to see the area protected, and organizes regular public hikes to the grove. The Avatar Grove is filled with monumental stands of giant Douglas firs and redcedars – some 14 feet (4 meters) in trunk diameter, including “Canada’s Gnarliest Tree”, a giant redcedar with an enormous burl. It is home to wolves, cougars, bears, deer, and elk. See photos at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/galleries.php
Already about 75% of Vancouver Island’s original, productive old-growth forests have been logged, including 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. See ”before” and “after” maps at http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
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