Ancient Yellow-Cedar Forest at Risk in the Roberts Creek Headwaters Ancient Forest, Sunshine Coast, BC
Call for a new Ecological Reserve to protect a rare stand of Pacific Yew, the threatened Marbled Murrelet seabird and First Nations archaeological sites.
Media Release - Ancient Forest Alliance, September 23, 2013
Click for larger image
A giant ancient yellow-cedar tree (left) and logging road location ribbon (right)
Photos by TJ Watt
Roberts Creek, BC - Local environmental groups are calling on the BC government to establish an Ecological Reserve on approximately 15 hectares of endangered old-growth forest located on public (Crown) land at the headwaters of Roberts Creek on BC’s Lower Sunshine Coast. The mid elevation forest, located about 7 kilometres northeast of the community Roberts Creek, is proposed to be logged by BC Timber Sales (BCTS).
The forest is the closest old-growth yellow-cedar forest to Sunshine Coast Highway 101, between Gibsons and Sechelt (a 40 minute ferry ride from Vancouver) making it also a high potential eco-tourism destination.
See a spectacular photo gallery of the forest here: www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos-sub.php?sID=8
(*Note: media are free to reprint photos. Credit to TJ Watt when possible. Please contact us if you need higher-res images)
“The proposed cutblocks are located between two designated Wildlife Habitat Areas that were created to protect threatened marbled murrelets - logging would split this habitat in half,” stated Ross Muirhead of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), a Sunshine Coast forest protection group. “BCTS Planners must acknowledge that connectivity of existing WHAs is an important land-use objective and to that end do the right thing and protect it either as a WHA extension or better still as an Ecological Reserve.”
The forest, named the “Roberts Creek Headwaters Ancient Forest” is on Squamish First Nation’s traditional territory and is threatened by BCTS’ proposed cutblock DK045. The cutblock was first put up for sale in 2010 but was halted at the last minute by the request of the Archaeological Branch of BC in July, 2012 after receiving photos from ELF members of what appeared to be culturally modified trees (CMT) within the block. Professional archaeologists, Jim Stafford and John Maxwell, contracted by ELF, visited the site in 2013 and confirmed the existence of 17 CMTs located within the block. Subsequently, the Archaeological Branch in Victoria mapped out 7 protected Archaeological Sites. BCTS then applied for a 'site alteration permit' to cut down the CMTs, which was granted by the Branch.
Another unique characteristic of this forest is an exceptional stand of Pacific Yew trees growing near the bases of yellow-cedars. Over 350 Yews were counted by ELF within the block. Gary Fletcher, of the Friends of Ecological Reserves, visited the site and nominated the “Roberts Creek Headwaters Ancient Forest” to the government as an Ecological Reserve to highlight this outstanding example of the old-growth dependent Pacific Yew.
Currently, the sale of the block has been delayed yet again to March, 2014 as BCTS awaits the results of an ecological and cultural survey by Ministry of Forest researchers.
“With the case that ELF has built, BCTS should withdraw its logging proposal for Block DK045 and grant it protected status once and for all,” states Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer TJ Watt, who recently documented the area. “This forest is regionally-important to the Sunshine Coast. There is little of this productive forest left at this elevation. The BC government must set aside both this forest and stop all logging of rare, endangered old-growth forests across the Province."
Old-growth forests are vital for supporting endangered species, unique biodiversity, tourism, recreation, the climate, clean water, wild salmon, and First Nations cultures.
To see new before and after maps of BC’s old-growth forests click here: www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
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