54 big trees protected from logging

By Laura Keil

A tree climber dangles from Big Lonely Doug–one of the 54 old-growth trees protected under a new Forest Act protection measure implemented by the BC government. Big Lonely Doug is Canada’s second largest Douglas-fir tree and grows in an old-growth clearcut in the Gordon River Valley near Port Renfrew, BC. Height: 216ft (66m) Width: 12ft (4m) / TJ WATT / www.ancientforestalliance.org

An old-growth Douglas Fir tree in the Robson Valley will be protected from logging and more trees could get the same protection once new laws come into effect later this year.

Last week, the Province announced that 54 trees on the BC Big Tree Registry will be protected, with a protective buffer zone of 1ha around the trees.

One of those trees is in the Robson Valley. The interior Douglas Fir is located roughly 2km north of LaSalle Lakes, 50km northwest of McBride along the Lower Goat Trail. For big tree seekers, the GPS coordinates are Longitude: -120.685622 Latitude: 53.533517.

To be considered for protection in this program, the trees need to be alive, not already protected, on provincial Crown land (excluding private property or federal land), have verified geographical co-ordinates for accurate location and meeting diameter requirements by species type.

A government public relations officer said the 1.74m wide and 44m tall Interior Douglas Fir in the Robson Valley was first measured in spring 2003 and is known locally as Gigi’s Giant. The tree, of unknown age, is in relatively good shape, but the officer said signs of butt rot are evident.

New protections
A government press release noted that changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act later this year will automatically protect big trees that meet certain size thresholds. The thresholds are based on a percentage of the largest known tree of each species. For Interior fir, the theshold is a diameter greater than 1.45 metres. Many old-growth trees are already protected through Old-Growth Management Areas.

Government engagement
Beginning this fall, an independent two-person panel will engage with First Nations, industry, stakeholders and communities on old-growth management led by Gary Merkel, a forester and natural resource expert, and member of the Tahltan Nation, and Al Gorley, a professional forester and former chair of the Forest Practices Board. The pair will hear perspectives on the ecological, economic and cultural importance of old-growth trees and forests and report to government in spring 2020 with recommendations. Those recommendations are expected to shape a new old-growth management for B.C.

Currently, 55% of old-growth forests on Crown land in B.C.’s coastal region are already protected from logging.

TJ WATT / www.ancientforestalliance.org