Victoria – Environmental activists with the Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC have found a remarkable old-growth forest grove in the Central Walbran Valley, an area threatened by planned logging.
The Black Diamond Grove is located inside logging company Teal Jones’ cutblock 4424, which was approved for logging by the BC government on September 18th despite widespread public opposition.
“We knew there were impressive old-growth trees in this area, but we were really blown away once we got in and explored,” said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “This type of old-growth is far too rare. There is absolutely no way the Black Diamond Grove should be logged.”
The grove, named for the steep slope it sits on, is unique because of its diversity of tree species. In addition to the monumental cedars that the Walbran Valley is famous for, the grove also contains massive Sitka spruce, hemlock, amabalis fir and even Douglas-fir trees.
The crown jewel of the Black Diamond Grove is the Leaning Tower Cedar, a western red-cedar tree approximately three metres wide at its base. The Leaning Tower Cedar could be as old as 1,000 years – hundreds of years older than Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, a protected landmark.
Among countless other benefits, old-growth forests store more climate-changing carbon than younger forests. BC’s coastal old-growth stores more carbon than any forest on the planet.
“Old-growth forests are our best ally in the fight against climate change, but we lose that benefit as companies like Teal Jones liquidate the last of it,” said Mark Worthing, Biodiversity Outreach Coordinator at Sierra Club BC. “If the government’s new Climate Leadership Team is serious about addressing climate change, protecting old-growth forests like the Black Diamond Grove is one of the simplest, easiest things it can do.”
Teal Jones’ plans to move into the Central Walbran have highlighted the plight of the last relatively intact unprotected old-growth forests on Vancouver Island, and have galvanized environmental groups and citizens who believe these ancient forests must be protected.
Many grassroots activists are considering blockades to stop the new logging, while the local group Friends of Carmanah-Walbran announced plans this week to establish a new Witness Camp in the Valley.
Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee do not participate in civil disobedience but will continue to maintain a presence in the Walbran to monitor the situation and report back to the public. The organizations have been active on the issue throughout the summer, holding public meetings, rallies and building public support for the protection of the Walbran.
Thousands of citizens have written to BC Forest Minister Steve Thomson, calling on the government to put a hold on logging in the Central Walbran. The Minister has rejected multiple requests for meetings with the Wilderness Committee.
The Walbran is located in unceded Nuu-chah-nulth territory.