Al Jazeera Covers Ancient Forest Alliance’s Campaign to Save British Columbia’s Endangered Old-Growth Forests and the Avatar Grove
Al Jazeera, one of the world’s largest international TV news networks, will be featuring a news story this Saturday about the Ancient Forest Alliance’s campaign to protect British Columbia’s endangered old-growth forests and the “Avatar Grove”
Ancient Forest Alliance Media Release, March 3, 2011
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The Al Jazeera film crew and AFA activists TJ Watt and Ken Wu visit Canada's largest spruce, the San Juan Spruce, during the recent media trip.
Photo: Ancient Forest Alliance
Victoria, Canada - Al Jazeera, one of the world’s largest international TV news networks, will be featuring a news story this Saturday about the Ancient Forest Alliance’s campaign to protect British Columbia’s endangered old-growth forests and the “Avatar Grove” on Vancouver Island. An Al-Jazeera news crew toured the endangered Avatar Grove, the San Juan Spruce (Canada’s largest spruce tree), and clearcuts near the town of Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island last week with Ancient Forest Alliance activists Ken Wu and TJ Watt, and subsequently interviewed BC’s Forests Minister Pat Bell. See Al-Jazeera’s website at: http://english.aljazeera.net/ The news clip is expected to be posted online on Saturday.
“This will definitely be the largest news hit we’ve had in many years - I think the last time was sometime in the 1990’s when the campaign to protect Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests was featured in the international TV news media,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director. “International audiences will be astounded to see that British Columbia still has thousand year old trees with trunks as wide living rooms and that tower as tall as downtown skyscrapers – and horrified to know that our government still sanctions regularly cutting them down. We desperately need a government plan to save our endangered old-growth forests, to log second-growth forests sustainably, and to end the export of our raw, unprocessed logs to foreign mills in order to sustain Canadian forestry jobs.”
Al Jazeera English broadcasts to more than 220 million households in more than 100 countries, and is one of the largest and most esteemed international TV news networks, along with the BBC and CNN. It is the only international news network to have a permanent bureau in Canada in Toronto. The network’s North American viewership has dramatically grown in recent weeks due to its extensive coverage of the recent uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and throughout the Middle East.
75% of Vancouver Island’s ancient forests have already been logged, including 90% of the largest trees that grow in the valley bottoms, according to satellite photos. See “before” and “after” maps at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
A couple weeks ago Minister of Forests, Mines, and Lands Pat Bell announced that the British Columbia (BC) government is looking into the possibility of protecting the endangered Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew, and is also looking at developing new legal tools to increase protection of exceptionally grand heritage trees and groves. See the Minister’s comments in the Vancouver Sun at: http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/resources/archive/2011/02/11/forests-minister-to-protect-ancient-trees.aspx
“We commend the BC government for considering protection of the Avatar Grove and our province’s largest heritage trees – let’s hope they make good on this. However, much as we need to protect our largest trees, more importantly we need to protect our remaining old-growth forest ecosystems by saving what’s left of them across whole regions, such as on Vancouver Island, because so much has already been logged,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance photographer and campaigner. “This is particularly important if we’re going to sustain our wildlife, water quality, wild salmon, scenery, and wilderness tourism experiences, and to counteract climate change.”
The Avatar Grove is the most easily accessible, endangered monumental stand of ancient redcedars and Douglas firs in a wilderness setting on southern Vancouver Island. It also includes what is dubbed “Canada’s Gnarliest Tree”, a giant redcedar with a 3 meter wide burl growing out of its side. It can be accessed not far past the end of a paved road, on relatively gentle terrain, only a 15 minute drive from the town of Port Renfrew. It is home to cougars, wolves, bears, elk, and deer. Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer TJ Watt came across the Avatar Grove in December, 2009, while on an exploratory expedition in the Gordon River Valley. Support for protecting the Avatar Grove is extensive, and includes the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, the Sooke Regional Tourism Association, and local, elected political representatives at the federal, provincial, and regional levels. See a video clip about the Avatar Grove at:
The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC Liberal government to:
- Enact a Provincial Old-Growth Strategy to inventory old-growth forests across BC and to protect them where they have been severely depleted by logging, such as on Vancouver Island.
- Ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests (60 to 100 year old stands), rather than the dwindling old-growth stands (140 to 2000 years old trees)
- End the export of raw, unprocessed logs from BC to foreign mills in order to sustain the jobs of millworkers in BC. If we are going to leave more trees standing for conservation while sustaining forestry employment levels at the same time, we must do more with the second-growth trees that we log by processing them and creating jobs in the province rather than exporting them to foreign mills.
Old-growth forests are important for sustaining endangered species, tourism, the climate, clean water, and many First Nations cultures. See SPECTACULAR photos of Canada’s largest trees and stumps at:
The Ancient Forest Alliance (www.ancientforestalliance.org) is a new grassroots environmental organization, based in Victoria, British Columbia, working to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests and forestry jobs. The group, founded in January of 2010, now has 20,000 supporters on its supporters lists and Facebook pages. It organizes expeditions to document endangered forests with photography and video, public hiking and camping trips, petition drives (www.ancientforestpetition.com), letter-writing campaigns, slideshows, and rallies to pressure the BC government to enact new sustainable policies.
“This is the first time in years that the BC government has considered developing new legal tools to protect old-growth forests, however limited. They’ve opened the door to expanding protections of our old-growth forests, while recognizing there is a strong public will to see them saved, and that’s good. Now we need a provincial plan to protect our old-growth forests in whole regions where they are endangered,” stated Ken Wu. “The rest of the industrialized world is logging second, third, and fourth-growth trees – very few jurisdictions still have the type of spectacular old-growth forests that we have in British Columbia, and fewer still consider it acceptable to log the last of them.”
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