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Canada's Two Grandest Old-Growth Forests Under Logging Threat by the Teal-Jones Group!

Ancient Forest Alliance, July 9, 2015

Canada's Two Grandest Old-Growth Forests Under Logging Threat by the Teal-Jones Group!
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Ancient Forest Alliance's Jackie Korn stands amongst incredible old-growth redcedar trees in proposed cutblock 4412 in the Central Walbran Ancient Forest.
Photo by TJ Watt

Port Renfrew –  Surrey-based forestry company, the Teal-Jones Group, is aggressively moving forward with plans to log and build roads into Canada’s two most magnificent old-growth forests, the Central Walbran Ancient Forest (about 500 hectares) and the Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest (about 1500 hectares) on southern Vancouver Island. The company is planning eight new cutblocks (clearcuts) and a new road in the Central Walbran, and two new cutblocks and a new road on Edinburgh Mountain. The Walbran Valley is home to perhaps Canada’s finest stand of old-growth redcedars, the Castle Grove, while Edinburgh Mountain is where “Big Lonely Doug” (discovered last year by Ancient Forest Alliance activists to be Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree – alas, completely surrounded by a 2012 clearcut) still stands and where the threatened "Christy Clark Grove" (ie. Lower Edinburgh Grove) is located in the Gordon River Valley. Maclean’s Magazine recently featured the Ancient Forest Alliance’s video of tree-climbers at Edinburgh Mountain scaling Big Lonely Doug among a series of videos featuring “Canada’s greatest people, places, and experiences” – see:

(***NOTE: News media are free to run any video footage and photos, credit to "TJ Watt" where possible. Contact us if you need higher res video or photos)

Conservationists are escalating pressure on the BC government and the company through a public awareness campaign of hikes, expeditions, protests, and letter-writing drives, calling on the company to back off and the BC government to protect the two ancient forests. Teal-Jones Group is a Surrey-based company that logs and sells endangered old-growth forests – including ancient redcedar trees - for pulp, paper, and solid wood products.

Both the Central Walbran Valley and Edinburgh Mountain are just a few kilometers from the world-famous West Coast Trail of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Both areas are home to Canada’s most magnificent old-growth temperate rainforests of giant western redcedar, Douglas-fir, Sitka spruce, and hemlock trees. Species at risk include Queen Charlotte Goshawks, marbled murrelets, screech owls, and red-legged frogs in the forest, while coho salmon and steelhead trout spawn in the rivers. The areas are popular for recreationalists, including hikers, campers, anglers, hunters, and mushroom pickers, and are located on public (Crown) lands in Tree Farm Licence 46 near Port Renfrew in Pacheedaht Nuu-cha-Nulth territory.

The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC government to protect these areas from logging through expanded Old-Growth Management Areas (OGMA’s), core Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHA’s), Land Use Orders (LUO’s), and/or through a proposed new "legal tool" to protect BC’s biggest trees and grandest groves, which the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations is currently developing. The organization is also calling on the BC government to implement a comprehensive science-based plan to protect all of BC’s remaining endangered old-growth forests, and to also ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry.

"Teal-Jones seems to be committing to a War in the Woods by aggressively moving forward to log southern Vancouver Island’s most contentious ancient forests. The Walbran Valley was the birthplace of the ancient forest protest movement in Victoria decades ago. Logging there has repeatedly triggered protests, beginning in 1991 and flaring up regularly for more than a decade thereafter. Thousands of British Columbians love the ancient forests of the Castle Grove, Emerald Pool, Bridge Camp, Summer Crossing, and Fletcher Falls in the Central Walbran Valley," stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director. "Similarly, the Gordon River Valley region where the threatened Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest is located has been in the international spotlight because of the nearby Avatar Grove, a popular, now-protected ancient forest just across the valley, and Big Lonely Doug, Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir, which towers by itself in a now-destroyed part of the Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest. Both the province and the company will be held accountable for what happens in these areas."

"Because of the ideal growing conditions in the region, Canada’s temperate rainforests reach their most magnificent proportions in the Walbran, Carmanah, and Gordon River Valleys. They’re Canada’s version of the American redwoods. Given this fact – and that virtually all of the unprotected ancient forests are either clearcut or fragmented by logging today on southern Vancouver Island – it should be a no-brainer that the two largest, contiguous tracts here, the Central Walbran and Edinburgh Mountain, should be immediately protected", stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer.

Of the eight cutblocks that Teal-Jones is proposing to log in the Central Walbran Valley, the company recently applied on June 23 to the Forest Service to start logging one of them near the Upper Castle Grove, Cutblock 4424. Whether the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations grants the permit is to be seen. The Castle Grove is perhaps the most extensive stand of densely-packed monumental old-growth redcedars in Canada, and possibly the world.

At the same time, the company is planning a new logging road and two cutblocks in the Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest, just a few kilometers away from the Walbran Valley. The old-growth forests of Edinburgh Mountain are significantly more extensive than those of the Central Walbran Valley, making it the largest, primarily intact tract of unprotected old-growth forest left on southern Vancouver Island (south of Bamfield). The proposed new road by Teal-Jones would pierce hundreds of metres into the heart of the Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest and would even traverse an Old-Growth Management Area (OGMA).

The Edinburgh Grove, the most spectacular part of the Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest on its southwestern side, has also been nicknamed the "Christy Clark Grove" after British Columbia’s premier as a strategy to put her on the spot and in the spotlight to protect it. More than half of the Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest is open for logging, while other parts are protected as a "core" Wildlife Habitat Area (the "buffer" zone can still be logged, and has already been logged in several areas) for the endangered Queen Charlotte Goshawk, as an Ungulate Winter Range, and as Old-Growth Management Areas.  See an original article about the Christy Clark Grove at  

Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree, "Big Lonely Doug", was once part of the Edinburgh Grove until its surrounding neighbours were clearcut in a 2012 cutblock - see

The Central Walbran’s old-growth western redcedar, Sitka spruce, and hemlock forests have long been proposed for protection by the environmental movement since the early 1990’s, when the valley was "ground zero" for protests by southern Vancouver Island’s environmental movement. The early Walbran protests played an important role in supporting the build-up towards the massive Clayoquot Sound protests near Tofino on Vancouver Island in 1993.

The Castle Grove is considered by many conservationists as the finest, unprotected stand of monumental old-growth western redcedar trees in Canada. It includes a flat section (Lower Castle Grove), currently without any logging plans, and an adjacent mountainside (Upper Castle Grove) that is now under direct threat by Teal-Jones. Teal-Jones had flagged part of the Upper Castle Grove for logging in the 2012, but after a public campaign by the Ancient Forest Alliance, the Ministry of Forests reported later than year that the company was not intending to log there – unfortunately, since then, the company is now proposing to place three clearcuts in the Upper Castle Grove. See the video and the media releases from 2012:  and 

A portion of the Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest was perhaps the most spectacular old-growth redcedar grove in the world, more densely packed with a greater number of monumental ancient redcedars (13 to 16 feet wide) than perhaps any other cedar grove – until it was clearcut in 2010. The logging of this grove triggered a Forest Practices Board investigation that recommended that the province undertake a new legal tool to protect the province’s biggest trees and grandest groves – which the province is still in the process of developing. 

Old-growth forests are vital to sustain endangered species, climate stability, tourism, clean water, wild salmon, and the cultures of many First Nations.

On BC’s southern coast, satellite photos show that at least 75% of the original,productive old-growth forests have been logged, including well over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow.


The Walbran Valley is about 13,000 hectares in size, with about 5500 hectares of the Lower Walbran Valley protected within the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park and about 7500 hectares of the Upper Walbran Valley remaining unprotected. The unprotected Upper Walbran Valley is divided into two "Tree Farm Licences" (TFL’s): TFL 46, held by Teal Jones, and TFL 44, held by Western Forest Products, on Crown lands in the unceded territory of the Pacheedaht Nuu-Cha-Nulth people.

While most of the Upper Walbran Valley has been heavily fragmented by old-growth logging, two major tracts of ancient forest remain largely unlogged there: The Castle Grove (Canada’s finest ancient redcedar forest) and the greater Central Walbran Ancient Forest (currently under potential logging threat) which abuts against the boundary Carmanah/Walbran Provincial Park, spanning about 500 hectares in extent.

While small sections of the Central Walbran Ancient Forest are protected within Riparian Reserves, an Ungulate Winter Range, and Old-Growth Management Areas, the vast majority of the area is open for logging. The Central Walbran Ancient Forest is a popular and heavily used area by recreationalists, where the main boardwalk trails for hiking, riverside camping area, Emerald Pool swimming area, and the spectacular Fletcher Falls are found.

The Central Walbran Ancient Forest, Castle Grove, and adjacent unprotected forests were designated as a "Special Management Zone" (SMZ) by the BC government in 1994. The SMZ is supposed to be managed to maintain its environmental and biodiversity values – however, numerous destructive clearcuts have tattered much of the SMZ over the past 20 years.

Edinburgh Mountain includes about 1500 hectares of intact ancient forest, none of which are included in legislated protected areas. About 60% or more of its ancient forests are open for logging, while about 40% are in forest reserves which prohibit logging (ie. within Old-Growth Management Areas and an Ungulate Winter Range). In addition, all of the Grove is included within a 2100 hectare Wildlife Habitat Area, which still legally allows clearcut logging in almost 90% of the designation itself (ie. in the "buffer", not the small “core” area). In 2010 and 2012 some of the very largest trees in Canada - some 13 to 16 feet in diameter - were logged within the Wildlife Habitat Area on Edinburgh Mountain. The Lower Edinburgh Grove on its southwestern side has some high concentrations of giant Douglas-firs and western redcedars. The grove once included "Big Lonely Doug", Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree, until the forests surrounding the tree were logged in 2012, and while it still includes the "Gnarly Clark", a massive redcedar with some giant burls, "General Clark", a huge, straight redcedar, and the "Clark Giant", a near record-size Douglas-fir that, at over 30 feet in circumference! The Clark Giant is currently in a forest reserve that is off-limits to logging, but stands close to an area that could be clearcut.

In order to placate public fears about the loss of BC’s endangered old-growth forests, the BC government’s PR-spin typically over-inflates the amount of remaining old-growth forests by including hundreds of thousands of hectares of marginal, low productivity forests growing in bogs and at high elevations with smaller, stunted trees, lumped in with the productive old-growth forests, where the large trees grow (and where most logging takes place). "It’s like including your Monopoly money with your real money and then claiming to be a millionaire, so why curtail spending?" stated the Ancient Forest Alliance’s Ken Wu. 





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