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A red cedar discovered on Vancouver Island

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Joshua Wright, conservationist, discovered the giant cedar in the Caycuse valley.

  • Simon Jousset (View profile)Simon Jousset

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A giant cedar has been discovered in the Caycuse Valley on southwest Vancouver Island. Its diameter is such that it will be protected and cannot be cut, but its discovery reignites the debate on logging in ancient forests.

Joshua Wright didn't expect to encounter a giant. However, this environmental defender has been traveling up and down the forests for five years. He takes photos, films the consequences of tree cutting in southwest Vancouver Island.

It's really great to find such a big tree, but I also feel a sense of helplessness. Because even if they won't cut down this tree, the ecosystem that surrounds it will disappear, regrets the American, only 20 years old.

The giant cedar, 3.88 m in diameter, exceeds the threshold above which a tree is protected and cannot be cut by only 3 cm. The forestry industry therefore does not have the right to cut it down. Same thing for the trees surrounding it on a buffer area of ​​one hectare.

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Apart from this area, everything around it will be razed, protests Joshua Wright. Including trees that are over 10 feet in diameter, and just below the threshold. It's insane, but it's emblematic of how British Columbia currently approaches old-growth forest conservation.

According to Ken Wu, director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance, the discovery of a tree of this size is very rare today. This is the type of tree once found in British Columbia, in coastal and inland rainforests. There were tens of millions of giant trees like this. Today, only two or three percent remain.

The tree, named “Knight tree” by Joshua Wright , is located on the territory of the Ditidaht First Nation. Vera Edgar, one of its members, also has mixed feelings. It’s a great discovery and I’m happy that it was found before it was cut down, she confides.

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The diameter of the “Knight tree” measures 3.88 m , i.e. 3 cm more than the protection threshold. The tree cannot therefore be cut.

Ken Wu explains that there is a close connection between old-growth forests and First Nations. Thuja, in particular, is an important tree for making canoes and even totem poles. It is therefore a species that matters, not only for ecosystems, but also for First Nations culture.

First Nations should have more of a say in forest management. In any case, this is the speech of the provincial government which made important announcements this fall for the preservation of biodiversity.

The province and Ottawa have indeed decided to grant $1 billion for the conservation of land, species and biodiversity in the province.

An announcement presented as historic. This is the first tripartite announcement on the protection of nature in the country, therefore, between the First Nations of British Columbia, the government of the [province] and the federal government, declared Steven Guilbeault, the minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Joshua Wright remains cautious. It's a nice sum, he admits, even if he's waiting for concrete actions to be put in place.

It's easy to protect an ecosystem somewhere while still logging a small subset of the best forests elsewhere.

A quote from conservationist Joshua Wright

The activist would particularly like the diameter above which a tree is protected to increase to 2 m, instead of 3.85 m today.

Ken Wu welcomes the nature protection agreement, and believes that First Nations will, in the years to come, have a central role in the management of old-growth forests. The BC government cannot impose legislative protection on an old-growth forest without the support of First Nations, without their consent.

He explains that several First Nations are economically dependent on the exploitation of old-growth forests. To be able to protect these areas, they will therefore need economic alternatives, funding for tourism, clean energy, sustainable seafood and many other sectors of activity. The good news is that the province and federal government are now providing this money.

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