Clear Cutting the Walbran Valley?

Castle Giant - Western Red Cedar
Threatened Castle Giant – Western Red Cedar

There aren’t many low elevation forests on Vancouver Island, BC (or anywhere in BC) that haven’t been clear cut. Some logging is necessary to provide materials for human use, but this ought to occur in a responsible balance with other uses as logging causes substantial losses in ecosystem services (i.e clean water), recreation opportunities and wildlife habitat.

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I think the ideal balance between land use for industrial logging vs. other uses is probably around 20-30% for logging. However the authorities in BC have decided that we should supply much of Asia with unprocessed raw logs with little economic value generated here in BC. By a large margin, BC leads everywhere in North America in getting the fewest jobs and dollars of economic gain per unit of wood cut. Other areas, such as Ontario, get similar economic benefit and employment while cutting only 25% of what BC does. It’s a far different situation than even 10 years ago when logging companies were required to mill wood here in the province. The entire situation is frustrating, as many BC residents dislike what’s happening to our forests but are misled into thinking it’s an important part of the economy.

Bracket fungi
Bracket fungi

The current situation is that the majority of BC’s forests have been replaced with young forest. In Southern BC over 90% of mature, low elevation forests are gone, while in Northern BC it’s closer to 80%. If you ask industry they’ll tell you they’ve only cut 40-50%, but to get those figures they include all sorts of low productivity areas like sub-alpine forests, bogs and rocky slopes.

Maidenhair fern
Maidenhair fern

The Walbran Valley is one of only a few spots on Vancouver Island that hasn’t been entirely cut. Logging corporations managed to clear 40% of the watershed before environmental protests and arrests broke out in ’93, leading to 40% of the still treed watershed added to Carmanah park and the other 20% with the largest trees left into limbo. Tensions between logging giant Teal Jones Corp. and environmentalists over that last 20% broke out in 2003, and they’re breaking out again now as Teal Jones has reapplied to clear cut this area.

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I think my stance on this is clear. Teal Jones is hurting for trees to cut because they refused to tree plant prior to late 80’s – despite it becoming law in 1965 – so now they want to log the last bits of old growth to tide their profits over until their second generation forests are ready. The pictures in this post are from the area in question which we visited a few weeks ago. It’s an awesome place and left alone it’ll continue to doing a great job providing clean water, sequestering carbon, and providing habitat for human recreation and endangered species like the red legged frog, marbled murrelet, spotted owl and endemic Anderson Lake Trout. Or we could give up all that to help a corporation make up for their irresponsible management of the huge areas of public land we entrusted to them.

Anderson Lake
Anderson Lake

It was heartening to see Victoria, BC pass a measure last week petitioning the province to deny the logging application. If you want to make your voice known you can do it here:
https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/victoria/write_wild_save_the_walbran_valley_–_ancient_forests_forever

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