Why The Walbran Is Important

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests said the first cutback the in the Walbran Valley is only 3.2 hectares large. It is to be  heli-logged,  not clearcut. The province is protecting over 30,300 hectares in old growth management areas in the South Island Natural Resource District. The map on the top of this page shows what they did not say, why the Walbran is important.

One Of The Most Important

The "Leaning Tower Cedar" – old-growth redcedar tree in Black Diamond Grove, within the recently approved cutblock. (Credit: Torrance Coste)
The “Leaning Tower Cedar” – old-growth redcedar tree in Black Diamond Grove, within the recently approved cutblock. (Credit: Torrance Coste)

A mapping analysis by Sierra Club BC examined 155 landscape units on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s south coast. Only 3% of them possessed over 70%  old-growth rainforest. One of the most important is the Walbran Valley and 40% of its’ old growth forest is outside of the protected area.

Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC forest and climate campaigner,  emphasized the fact their analysis focuses on remaining  “big tree” old-growth rainforest.

“Our mapping highlights the remaining percentage of good and medium old-growth forest, which are characterized by towering trees and the highest carbon storage per hectare on the planet. There are also poor productivity sites with smaller trees, that are generally not targeted for logging and not endangered like the ecosystems which allow ancient trees to reach a giant size,” he said.

“Our analysis is crystal clear – there is no better opportunity left to protect intact rainforest on Vancouver Island. The B.C. government should revoke this cut permit, because once logged, old-growth is gone forever. Warmer temperatures and increased drought conditions brought on by climate change will deprive it of the conditions it needs.”

Permission to log Cutblock 4424

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Yet on September 18 the Ministry of Forests gave Surrey based Teal Jones a permit to start logging cutback 4424 in the Walbran.

Torrance Coste, of the Wilderness Committee, and Mark Worthing, of Sierra Club BC, explored this area on September 22.

“We were expecting to find old growth, but not to the scale of what we found. It just speaks to the uniqueness of the Central Walbran and is just yet another reason why this forest is worthy of protection,” said Coste .

Teal Jones has applied for permits to log  a total of eight cutblocks in the Walbran.

Sierra Club BC is calling for a provincial government action plan to protect and restore B.C.’s forests in light of climate change impacts. Focus should be placed on conservation and restoration of endangered rainforest ecosystems on Vancouver Island and the south coast, which have been found relatively resilient to climate impacts in their intact state. B.C.’s forest industry must shift to harvesting sustainable levels of second growth forest and value-added manufacturing.

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