The local environment has been dealt a blow in the past few months, thanks to the logging of old growth forest in the Caycuse Valley.
“There’s only a few specks of this old growth left in the interior,” Ancient Forest Alliance executive director Ken Wu said. “We’d like to see the last of the old growth saved.”
West of Cowichan Lake and north of the Walbran Valley, an old growth stand of Douglas fir was clear-cut in June and July of this year, as a result of Teal Jones Group operations.
The Ancient Forest Alliance managed to get there in late June; far too late to prevent the logging from taking place.
The old growth forest that was logged was conveniently located in an unprotected tract of old growth, surrounded by the protected Ungulate Wintering Range and an Old Growth Management Area.
The Ungulate Wintering Range was designated by the Ministry of Forests to sustain black-tailed deer populations, while the Old Growth Management Area prohibits logging.
“Unfortunately, an important chunk of the old-growth Douglas firs were left out of protection and have now been clear-cut,” an Ancient forest Alliance press release reads.
“There’s almost none left,” Wu said, of the Caycuse Valley.
“We’re not saying don’t log, just don’t log the old growth.”
There’s still some unprotected old growth forest land in the Caycuse Valley that has the potential to see logging activity, unless the government steps in.
“If it’s not in a park, Ungulate Wintering Range, or Old Growth Management Area, it’ll become a sea of stumps,” Wu said.
The logging of the old growth Douglas fir will have a negative impact on various animal populations, Wu said, as it serves to provide deer with excellent wintering habitat, which includes the lichens they eat.
“At least 87 per cent of the productive old-growth forests on Vancouver Island south of Port Alberni and Barkely Sound have already been logged,” the press release reads.
A before and after map is available online, at www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php.
With the old growth vanishing, deer are pushed into smaller and smaller non-sustainable spaces.
With higher concentrations of deer comes easier hunting by predators.
This will have a spiraling negative effect, affecting creatures that eat deer, including wolves, cougars, and bears, as well as First Nations and non-First Nations hunters.
“It’s to the detriment of all the things and people that use this forest,” Wu said.
Vancouver Island has already seen a four-fold drop in deer populations in recent decades, and a 99 per cent logging of old growth Douglas firs, Wu wrote in the press release.
Now, the Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the provincial government to do a better job of protecting old growth forests. They’ve already had some successes in protecting the Avatar Grove, near Port Renfrew.
For the Ancient forest Alliance, it’s all about developing legal tools to help protect the largest monumental trees and groves in the province, maintaining the sustainable logging of second growth forests, and stopping the export of raw logs.
“More than ever, Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government is morally obliged to enact a comprehensive provincial old-growth strategy that will end the logging of our last endangered ancient forests.”
“It’s bad for deer, it’s bad for hunters, it’s bad for the ecosystem, it’s bad for tourism, and it’s ethically wrong.”
For more information on the group’s ongoing petitioning, visit their website, www.ancientforest alliance.org.