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BC’s Oldest Forest Conservationist, 104 Year Old Al Carder, Receives “Forest Sustainability Award” For Decades of Service Documenting, Researching, and Promoting BC’s Old-Growth Trees

Media Release - Ancient Forest Alliance, November 26, 2014

BC’s Oldest Forest Conservationist, 104 Year Old Al Carder, Receives “Forest Sustainability Award” For Decades of Service Documenting, Researching, and Promoting BC’s Old-Growth Trees
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Photo by TJ Watt.

For Immediate Release
November 26, 2014

BC’s oldest forest conservationist, Dr. Al Carder, received public recognition last night for his decades of service to document, research, and promote the conservation of BC’s old-growth trees. The 104 year old Carder is the recipient of the 2014 “Forest Sustainability Award” from the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) www.AncientForestAlliance.org, a British Columbia-based conservation group working to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests and to ensure a sustainable, second-growth forest industry. Dr. Carder’s children, Judith, Mary-Clare, and Andrew, received the award last night on behalf of their father, who is currently ill with pneumonia, at the AFA’s “end of year” forest conservation event in Victoria last night.

“Dr. Al Carder was researching and raising awareness about BC’s biggest trees years before old-growth forests became an issue of popular concern in this province. Carder, a humble and dedicated researcher, was never ‘out there’ in the public spotlight himself very much. However, his work decades ago on the most iconic parts of our old-growth forests, their unbelievably huge trees, helped to lay the foundation of public awareness that fostered the rise of the subsequent ancient forest movement,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director. “The Ancient Forest Alliance is very grateful for his decades of work and consider him to be a very deserving recipient of this award.”

Along with his books, Carder is perhaps best known for his work in the 1970’s to highlight the Red Creek Fir, the world’s largest known Douglas-fir tree located in the San Juan Valley near the town of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. The champion tree was found in 1976 by local loggers, who notified Carder about the tree. Carder measured the tree and recognized it for being the largest of its species on Earth, and worked to promote its protection.

The Red Creek Fir is now within a Forest Service Recreation Area, and is also listed in BC’s Big Tree Registry, run by the University of British Columbia – see http://bigtrees.forestry.ubc.ca/ Since then, Port Renfrew has become known as the “Tall Trees Capital of Canada”, with tourists from around the world coming to visit the Red Creek Fir and the nearby Avatar Grove, Big Lonely Doug (the second largest Douglas-fir tree in Canada, measured earlier this year by AFA campaigners), San Juan Spruce, Harris Creek Spruce, and Walbran and Carmanah Valleys.

Carder’s early work helped to inspire the late Randy Stoltmann, another renowned BC conservationist who often worked with Carder (52 years his senior) in the 1980’s and ‘90’s to research and promote the protection of BC’s biggest trees and endangered old-growth forest ecosystems.

Al Carder's love of giant trees began when he was 7 years old, helping his father measure a tall tree near their home in the lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia in 1917, and stayed with him all his life. Wherever he was, if there were tall trees nearby he would be glancing up, estimating their height.

It was so working in northern Alberta, studying in eastern Canada and Wisconsin where he obtained his doctorate in plant ecology becoming Canada's first agrometeorologist. Before this, while in England, he admired the huge hedgerow elms and he did not relinquish this habit of viewing giant trees even when he was on the firing line during World War II.

After retiring from Canada's federal agriculture service, Al and his wife, Mary, set off on a World Big Tree Hunt - Mary often being used as "scale" next to giants in Al's photos. This was productive, years later resulting in the publication of two books: Forest Giants of the World, Past and Present (1995) and Giant Trees of North America and the World (2005) with Al's "to scale" drawings.

Al continued researching, writing and self-publishing information into his 101st year with The Blooming of the Earth: A Brief History of the Advent of Plants and Man and finally Reflections of a Big Tree Enthusiast about his beloved giant Douglas-firs of the Northwest Coast. Having proved the Red Creek Tree to be Canada's largest tree, it is Al's belief that if British Columbia's Douglas-fir stands had been harvested responsibly, they would now be the world's tallest trees.

Last year’s recipient of the Ancient Forest Alliance’s Forest Sustainability Award was Scott Fraser, the Member of the Legislative Assembly in BC for the Alberni-Pacific Rim riding, for his work to protect old-growth forests and sustainable forestry jobs around Port Alberni, and to highlight the deregulation of forest lands on Vancouver Island.  


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