Unique Prince George area-forest should be World Heritage Site, says study
Vancouver Sun - Brian Morton, January 4, 2013
An area of rainforest near Prince George is so unique that it should be designated as a provincial park and protected as a United Nations World Heritage Site, says a new study by the University of Northern B.C.
The area, called the Ancient Forest, contains massive stands of giant red cedars usually associated with wet coastal forests, as well as rare plants and lichens.
“It’s a very unique wet temperate rainforest,” said the study’s lead author, UNBC ecosystem science and management Prof. Darwyn Coxson.
“Usually, they (rainforests) are beside the ocean or within 10 or 20 kilometres from the ocean.
“But this is a small zone about 800 kilometres east of Prince Rupert. It’s wet, cool and allows cedar stands to reach amazing age and sizes. They rival anything on (Haida Gwaii) or Vancouver Island.”
Coxson said the proposed park and UNESCO site would consist of 6,000 to 10,000 hectares of largely unlogged forest about one hour’s drive east of Prince George along 20 kilometres of Highway 16.
It’s being recommended that the boundary of nearby Slim Creek provincial park be extended to include the new area.
“There is much precedence to point to of ancient coastal rainforests being named World Heritage Sites, such as Haida Gwaii in B.C., and Olympic National Park in Washington State, but in many scientific and cultural respects, the Ancient Forest is of even more value due to its extremely rare location so far north and so far inland,” said Coxson.
The UNBC study, published in the BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management, said the Ancient Forest is accessible by trail and features some cedars more than 1,000 years old.
The area was flagged for logging in 2006, but later declared off limits after UNBC students and researchers informed the public of its cultural and scientific value.
Since then, UNBC researchers and classes have visited the trail site to study the area’s biodiversity.
“Becoming a provincial park and then a World Heritage Site will ensure the long-term protection of the ancient cedar stands, which to date, have been cared for by local community groups,” said Coxson.
According to the study, to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site must first be named a provincial park. The government of Canada must then recommend the site to UNESCO.
Coxson co-wrote the study with UNBC environmental planning Prof. David Connell and Trevor Goward of the University of B.C.
Read More: http://www.vancouversun.com/travel/Unique+Prince+George+area+forest+should+World+Heritage+Site+says+study/8038492/story.html
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