The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) is a registered non-profit society in British Columbia, Canada, founded in February 2010 by Ken Wu and TJ Watt. It has quickly grown into the main organization in BC working towards province-wide legislation to end the logging of endangered old-growth forests.
The AFA has garnered attention for its campaigns in the provincial, national, and international news media. Tens of thousands of British Columbians have been mobilized to speak up to elected decision-makers, and have built broad-based support for ancient forest protection among First Nations bands, forestry workers unions, tourism and green businesses, key politicians, the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, and other diverse partners.
The AFA’s work with non-traditional allies, including the business community, has revolutionized the ancient forest movement in BC. This major expansion of voices for saving ancient forests has been fundamentally driven by the AFA’s work to diversify and expand the old-growth forest movement beyond its environmentalist base. In particular, it has been the work done with the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce to successfully protect the Avatar Grove in 2012, subsequently building a boardwalk there and promoting a major eco-tourism economy based on big trees and old-growth forests.
The AFA has played a vital role throughout its existence in helping to bring ancient forests onto the political agenda. This includes successfully engaging the Green Party of BC to support the end of logging endangered old-growth forests, and bearing down significant pressure on both the BC Liberal and NDP governments on their forest policies, helping to ensure forest protection while halting some of their most destructive proposals. Some of these areas where logging has been halted are in high conservation ancient forests such as Castle Grove of the Upper Walbran Valley, Horne Mountain by Cathedral Grove, Jurassic Grove, and Lower Edinburgh Mountain or “Eden Grove” all across Southern Vancouver Island.
Most importantly, the AFA has been working to engage and support First Nations communities regarding their concerns with unsustainable forestry activities in their unceded territories and is currently working on developing sustainable economic development support for these communities as an alternative to old-growth logging.
In 2010 and 2018, the AFA played an important role in helping to implement two sets of land use orders to protect a total of over 3,000 hectares of highly endangered Coastal Douglas-Fir ecosystem on eastern Vancouver Island and on the Gulf Islands. This was accomplished by engaging the news media, social media, and by mobilizing thousands of AFAs supporters to speak up to the provincial decision-makers.
In 2012, after a two-year campaign, the AFA succeeded in convincing the BC government to protect the magnificent “Avatar Grove” near Port Renfrew from logging.
In 2013, the AFA was instrumental in achieving protection for 55 hectares or approximately 60% of the Echo Lake Ancient Forest, a rare lowland old-growth forest near Mission, BC, and the largest night-roosting site for bald eagles in the fall on Earth.
In 2013 and 2014, the AFA played a key role in defeating the BC government’s proposal to expand Tree Farm Licences (exclusive area-based logging rights for major timber companies) across the province.
In 2016, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the largest business lobby in the province, representing 36,000 businesses – passed a resolution calling on the province to expand the protection of old-growth forests in BC in order to support the economy. This resolution – a tectonic shift in the political landscape of BC – was the culmination of similar resolutions passed by the Port Renfrew, Sooke, and WestShore Chambers of Commerce as a result of their collaboration with the AFA and our work with hundreds of BC’s tourism and local businesses. Later in 2016, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), representing over 150 city, town, and regional governments across the province, also passed a resolution calling on the province to end the logging of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island, while BC Nature (formerly the Federation of BC Naturalists) representing 53 naturalist clubs across the province, called for an end to logging in BC’s iconic Central Walbran Valley.
In 2017, the Public and Private Workers of BC (PPWC), formerly the Pulp, Paper, and Woodworkers of Canada, passed a resolution calling for an end to old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. The alliance with the PPWC, representing thousands of sawmill and pulp mill workers across BC, was developed over almost two decades through cooperative campaigns between the AFA’s co-founder, Ken Wu, and the PPWC’s forestry officer and later, president, Arnie Bercov, who worked together against forestry deregulation, raw log exports, and old-growth logging, and paved the path for further cooperation with many other forestry workers.