Conservationists with the Ancient Forest Alliance have documented the clearcutting of a magnificent ancient forest in Quatsino Sound and are urging the BC government to immediately commit funding for old-growth protection to help prevent further loss of the most endangered old-growth forests in BC, plus identify at-risk old-growth forests for deferral that were missed due to mapping errors in the original process.
Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) members TJ Watt and Ian Thomas came across the fallen remains of a grove of enormous western redcedars — some measuring upwards of 10 feet (3 meters) wide — on a field expedition in 2022. The 25-hectare old-growth cutblock is located on public lands in Tree Farm Licence 6, which is held by logging company Western Forest Products, in Quatsino territory.
“This was a superlative ancient forest,” stated AFA photographer and campaigner, TJ Watt. “I was floored by the sheer number of monumental redcedars cut down. It was the most shocking example of industrial old-growth logging I’ve witnessed since the logging in the Caycuse and Nahmint Valleys. Dozens of centuries-old trees littered the ground, trees that were taller on their side than I was standing beside them. Some of them were alive earlier that day. After more than a century of high-grade logging in BC, groves of unprotected giants like these are extremely rare to find. To lose another one as special as this is heartbreaking.”
The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC government to commit significant funding and conjoin it with major federal funds to support sustainable economic alternatives for First Nations (whose consent and support are a necessity for any new deferrals or protected areas) linked to new protected areas.
This series of images is part of work Watt has created with support from the Trebek Initiative, a grantmaking partnership between the National Geographic Society and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.