The Ancient Forest Alliance is a registered BC non-profit society founded by Ken Wu and TJ Watt in February 2010. The organization quickly grew into becoming BC’s main organization working towards province-wide legislation to end the logging of endangered old-growth forests.
In 2012, after a two-year campaign, the AFA succeeded in convincing the BC government to protect the magnificent “Avatar Grove” near Port Renfrew from logging. In 2013 we were instrumental in achieving protection for 55 hectares or about 60% of the Echo Lake Ancient Forest, a rare lowland old-growth forest near Mission, and the largest fall night-roosting site for bald eagles on Earth.
In 2013 and 2014, we played a key role in defeating the BC government’s proposal to expand Tree Farm Licences (exclusive logging areas for major timber companies) across the province. We have also successfully contributed to holding off logging in many high conservation-value ancient forests across the southern coast, including in the Castle Grove of the Upper Walbran Valley, Horne Mountain by Cathedral Grove, Jurassic Grove, and Lower Edinburgh Mountain (“Eden Grove”).
In 2010 and 2018, we also played an important role in helping to see the implementation of two sets of land use orders to protect a total of over 3000 hectares of highly endangered Coastal Douglas-Fir ecosystem on eastern Vancouver Island and on the Gulf Islands by our engagement of the news media, social media, and by mobilizing thousands of our supporters to speak up to the provincial decision-makers.
The AFA has garnered huge attention for its campaigns in the provincial, national, and international news media. We have mobilized tens of thousands of British Columbians to speak up to elected decision-makers and have built broad-based support for ancient forest protection among First Nations bands, forestry workers unions, tourism and green businesses, key politicians, the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, and other diverse partners.
The AFA’s work with non-traditional allies, including the business community, has revolutionized the ancient forest movement in BC. In 2016, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the largest business lobby in the province, representing 36,000 businesses – passed a resolution calling on the province to expand the protection of BC’s old-growth forests in order to support the economy. This resolution – a tectonic shift in the political landscape of BC – was the culmination of similar resolutions passed by the Port Renfrew, Sooke, and WestShore Chambers of Commerce as a result of their collaboration with the Ancient Forest Alliance and our work with hundreds of BC’s tourism and local businesses.
In 2017, the Public and Private Workers of BC (PPWC), formerly the Pulp, Paper, and Woodworkers of Canada, passed a resolution calling for an end to old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. The alliance with the PPWC, representing thousands of sawmill and pulp mill workers across BC, was developed over almost two decades through cooperative campaigns between the AFA’s co-founder, Ken Wu, and the PPWC’s forestry officer and later, president, Arnie Bercov, who worked together against forestry deregulation, raw log exports, and old-growth logging, and paved the path for further cooperation with many other forestry workers.
In addition, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), representing over 150 city, town, and regional governments across the province, also passed a resolution calling on the province to end logging of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island, while BC Nature (formerly the Federation of BC Naturalists) representing 53 naturalist clubs across the province called for an end to logging in BC’s iconic Central Walbran Valley.
This major expansion of voices for saving ancient forests has been fundamentally driven by the Ancient Forest Alliance’s work to diversify and expand the old-growth forest movement beyond its environmentalist base. In particular, it has been our work with the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce to successfully protect the Avatar Grove in 2012, subsequently building a boardwalk there and promoting a major eco-tourism economy based on big trees and old-growth forests, that has been a foundation and a driver for this year’s major progress with much larger organizations and governments.
The Ancient Forest Alliance has played a vital role throughout its existence in helping to bring ancient forests onto the political agenda, including successfully engaging the Green Party of BC to support ending the logging of endangered old-growth forests, and in bearing down significant pressure on both the BC Liberal and NDP governments to on their forest policies, helping to ensure some forest protections while halting some of their most destructive proposals.
Most importantly, the Ancient Forest Alliance has been working to engage and support First Nations communities in their concerns over unsustainable forestry activities in their unceded territories and is currently engaged in working on developing sustainable economic development support for these communities as an alternative to old-growth logging.