'Tolkien Giant' tree at root of B.C. climate change appeal

Conservationists who want the government to take action on climate change by protecting B.C.'s old-growth forests say they've measured a near-record-size red cedar.

Ancient Forest Alliance calls on B.C. to toughen protection for giant trees to aid climate change action

Ancient Forest Alliance's Ken Wu measures the base of the 'Tolkien Giant' in the Central Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island, B.C., in this recent handout photo. (Ancient Forest Alliance, TJ Watt/The Canadian Press)

Conservationists who want the government to take action on climate change by protecting B.C.'s old-growth forests say they've measured a near-record-sized red cedar in Vancouver Island's central Walbran Valley.

The Ancient Forest Alliance said the tree that it calls the Tolkien Giant is the ninth-widest western red cedar in the province, according to a list compiled by the University of B.C.'s forestry faculty.

It said the tree has a circumference of 14.4 metres, or 47 feet, stands 42 metres high and lies within a protected reserve.

The rest of the upper Walbran is tattered like Swiss cheese.- Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance

However, logging is proposed for an area 200 metres away that includes another huge tree the alliance calls the Karst Giant, executive director Ken Wu said Friday.

"It's a tenuous protection, it's not legislated and it's a regulatory protection that can change," he said of the narrow
forest reserve around the Tolkien.

"Outside the central Walbran, the rest of the upper Walbran is tattered like Swiss cheese. So it means that the little remnants of old-growth are surrounded by clearcuts.

"The issue is large-scale industrial logging throughout the central Walbran valley and for this particular tree, they've already cut the other side of the river so they want to ring this area with clearcuts."

Where is the Walbran Valley?

Wu said the old-growth temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island stores more carbon per hectare than tropical rainforests.

He said that when massive trees are logged they stop absorbing huge amounts of carbon and the province's current measures to protect old-growth forests don't go far enough.

While the lower Walbran Valley is protected, the central and upper Walbran are not, Wu said.

Province approves cut block

Ancient Forest Alliance's TJ Watt and Ken Wu stand at the base of the 'Tolkien Giant' in the Central Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island, B.C., in this recent handout photo. (Ancient Forest Alliance, TJ Watt/The Canadian Press)
The Ministry of Forests said 25-million hectares of forests in the province are old-growth and that 4.5 million are protected.

The province has approved one of eight cut blocks for the Walbran.

Wilderness Committee spokesman Joe Foy said lawyers have negotiated a court agreement with the Teal Jones Group that allows its members to witness the forestry company's logging activities in the central Walbran.

Foy said a B.C. Supreme Court judge narrowed an injunction Thursday that erroneously named the Wilderness Committee as the organizers of a blockade protesting logging of old-growth forest in the Walbran Valley.

He said the injunction unfairly restricted members and the public from photographing or taking video of forestry work, but that is no longer the case.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.