TJ Watt of Ancient Forest Alliance surveys old growth logging in the Nahmint Valley. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

B.C. ‘legacy tree’ policy under review after ancient fir logged

Old-growth logging in Nahmint Valley draws rebuke

BY MIKE YOUDS

Special to the News

B.C. Timber Sales is reviewing its best management practices for legacy trees with the intent of strengthening a policy brought into question by old-growth logging near Port Alberni.

The Crown agency (BCTS) and the B.C. government have been roundly criticized in recent weeks by conservationists and local First Nations for continuing to allow logging of ancient fir and cedar in the Nahmint Valley.

Researchers aligned with the lobby group Ancient Forest Alliance pinpointed the logging last month of what was the ninth largest Douglas fir. They maintain that it’s one of many old-growth giants still being levelled in Vancouver Island forests.

READ: Blame for felled Nahmint giant placed on NDP

“Although it should be a no-brainer to protect B.C.’s biggest trees, what we ultimately need is protection for endangered forest ecosystems, which are under siege by commercial logging. Almost 11,000 hectares of old-growth forests were cut on Vancouver Island in 2016,” said Andrea Inness, an alliance campaigner. “And where better to start protecting old-growth than at the government’s own logging agency, B.C. Timber Sales?”

Immediately west of Port Alberni, the valley contains some of the most extensive stands of old-growth forest on Vancouver Island left standing outside of Clayoquot Sound. The area lies in the territory of Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations.

The Crown agency is overseen by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, which confirmed that the old-growth Douglas fir cited by Ancient Forest Alliance was part of Crown lands auctioned off before new policy was in place.

“With regard to the specific tree mentioned in the (Ancient Forest Alliance) news release, BCTS’ best management practices on legacy trees came into effect after that specific timber sale was laid out,” the ministry stated. “BCTS is also reviewing this policy to make it stronger.”

In its current form, policy requires any Douglas fir wider than 2.1 metres and any cedar wider than three metres to be left standing. The felled Nahmint fir was three metres in diameter.

Since August 2016, BCTS has awarded five timber sales totalling 319 hectares in the valley. The ministry noted, however, that there are 2,760 hectares of old growth protected in the “Nahmint landscape unit.”

BCTS has identified 250 old-growth cedar trees to be spared from logging in the Nahmint, the ministry said. As well, the ministry maintains that old growth forest is not far from a rare commodity on the Island, representing 43 percent of 1.9 million hectares of Crown forest on the Island. A large proportion of that old growth — 520,000 hectares — is protected.

Despite reassurances, conservation groups insist that government is exaggerating the extent of highly productive old growth, specifically trees ranging from 500 to 1,000 years old. Cut blocks in the Nahmint Valley auctioned by BCTS extend into areas where those oldest trees are found and don’t provide enough buffer to retain old-growth ecosystems, the alliance says.

Mike Stini of the Port Alberni Watershed Alliance was among those who identified the fir when it was still standing this spring.

“To see it lying on the ground two weeks later was devastating, especially since these big, old Douglas firs are now endangered after a century of commercial logging,” Stini said. “There are less than one percent of the old-growth Douglas-firs on the coast remaining. It’s like finding a huge black rhino or Siberian tiger that’s been shot. There are simply too few today and logging the last of these giants shouldn’t be allowed to happen anymore in B.C.”

RELATED: Nahmint Valley’s a gem for outdoor rec

Ancient Forest AllianceforestryNahmintold growth

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

(The Canadian Press)
Overdose advisory issued for Alberni Valley

Island Health warns of increased number of overdoses in central Vancouver Island community

The School District 70 administration office in Port Alberni. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO
School District 70 gets a new name

Name change reflects district’s West Coast roots

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Port Alberni artist Shayne Lloyd has designed a line of artisan clothing under his own label, Ursalia Creative. Lloyd teamed up with Stanfield for his first project. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Celebrate Alberni Valley businesses both large and small

Consider supporting local when shopping for the holidays this year

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read