The endangered Castle Grove is the finest stand of unprotected monumental ancient redcedars in Canada - it is the largest, densest, and most intact of such remaining stands. The Lower Castle Grove includes the "Castle Giant", an enormous, 16 foot (5 meter) diameter western redcedar that is one of the largest trees in Canada, and both the Lower and Upper Castle Grove are jam-packed with a high density of enormous trees. Marbled murrelets, screech owls, Queen Charlotte goshawks, red- legged frogs, cougars, black bears, and black-tailed deer all live in the Upper Castle Grove, while steelhead and coho salmon spawn in the Walbran River below. Most of western Vancouver Island including the Walbran Valley is within the territory of the Nuu-cha-nulth First Nations people.
In the summer of 2012 survey tape for logging was discovered in the Upper Castle Grove. However, after a large-scale public awareness and mobilization campaign led by the Ancient Forest Alliance, the BC government announced in November that the company, Teal-Jones, had rescinded its plans to log the grove. Now, follow-up legal protection is needed for this incredible forest.
The Castle Grove has been featured in numerous media reports on BC's old-growth forests for over two decades, including the front pages of the Victoria "Times Colonist" and in the "Vancouver Sun". The Walbran Valley was the focus of early protests against old-growth logging in 1991 and 1992, playing an important role in the build-up towards the massive Clayoquot Sound protests near Tofino on Vancouver Island in 1993.
In the spring of 2011, the BC Liberal government promised to implement a new "legal tool" to protect the province's largest trees and monumental groves. Of all places where such a designation would make most sense, it would be in the Castle Grove. However, more importantly, more comprehensive "ecosystem-level protection" for our old-growth forests on a much larger scale is fundamentally needed. The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC Liberal government and the NDP Opposition to commit to implementing a BC Old-Growth Strategy that will inventory and protect old-growth forests wherever they are scarce (such as on Vancouver Island, in the Lower Mainland, in the BC Interior, etc.). The AFA is also calling on the BC Liberal government to ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, which constitute most of the forests in southern BC, and to ensure a guaranteed log supply for BC mills and value-added wood manufacturers by ending the export of raw logs to foreign mills.