For Immediate Release
May 19, 2016
Media Release: The WestShore Chamber of Commerce Supports Port Renfrew’s Call for the Protection of the Central Walbran Valley’s Old-Growth Forest
The WestShore Chamber of Commerce (http://westshore.bc.ca/), representing almost 400 businesses in the western suburbs of Victoria and across the Capital Regional District, is supporting the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce’s call to the province to protect the Central Walbran Valley’s old-growth forests. In addition, the Sooke Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) representing 51 cities, towns, and regional districts, and the councils of Victoria, Metchosin, and Tofino, have also joined the call to protect the Central Walbran Valley and/or Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests.
Victoria, British Columbia – Conservationists are delighted that the WestShore Chamber of Commerce, representing almost 400 businesses in the western suburbs of Victoria has issued a letter in support of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce’s request to the province of British Columbia that it protect the Central Walbran Valley from old-growth logging.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists have come from across Canada, Europe, the USA, and jurisdictions around the world in recent years to visit some of Canada’s largest trees on southern Vancouver Island, near the town of Port Renfrew. Visitors are coming to see the Avatar Grove, Red Creek Fir (the world’s largest Douglas-fir tree), Big Lonely Doug (Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree), San Juan Spruce (until recently Canada’s largest Sitka spruce tree – its top broke off in a recent storm unfortunately), Harris Creek spruce (one of the largest Sitka spruce trees in Canada), and the Central Walbran Valley.
The growing numbers of visitors coming to see ancient forests are supporting local businesses as they pay for meals, accommodations, transportation, entertainment, and services, including in the Victoria region, on their way to and from Tall Tree hotspots.
• See the WestShore Chamber of Commerce’s statement for the Walbran here: http://westshore.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Signed-statement-re-Walbran-Valley.pdf
• See spectacular photos of the Walbran at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos.php?gID=7
• See a recent Youtube clip using drone footage over the Central Walbran at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyMPXHOjlK0
• See this 2012 video when a similar attempt to log near Castle Grove was held off, only to return recently: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHnG_sC4oms
“Our understanding is that old growth forests represent a vital part of our multi-billion dollar coastal tourism industry, and the Walbran Valley is a key area for preservation due to its spectacular beauty, gigantic trees, and accessibility. Every year tourists are attracted to the area from around the world to explore the wild west coast, including some of the tallest trees in the world. This increasing eco-tourism generates revenue every year and directly supports local businesses throughout the region as visitors pay for meals, accommodations, transportation, and entertainment on their way to and from Tall Tree hotspots. We fully expect that West Shore businesses are currently benefiting from this tourist traffic,” stated Joshua Schmidt, Projects & Relations Manager for the WestShore Chamber of Commerce.
“Our temperate coastal rainforests are home to about the greatest per hectare biomass and some of the biggest trees in the world. As old growth forests continue to be logged worldwide the local forests we preserve will only increase in demand and value. Our belief at the WestShore Chamber is that the ecological and economic value of protecting these last old growth forests far exceeds the monetary value of its lumber.”
The Central Walbran Valley’s old-growth temperate rainforest has long been an area of public interest since hiking trails were built in the valley in 1990. In 1994, the BC government protected the Lower Walbran Valley, about 5500 hectares, as part of the larger Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park, but left out the Central Walbran Valley (500 hectares) and the Upper Walbran Valley (7,000 hectares) from the park. Since then, most of the Upper Walbran has been heavily tattered by logging, but the Central Walbran remains largely intact. However, eight new cutblocks are planned in the Central Walbran, of which one (cutblock 4424) has been approved by the province. The Central Walbran Valley lies on Crown (public) land in the territory of the Pacheedaht band in Tree Farm Licence 46 held by licensee Teal-Jones.
On BC’s southern coast (Vancouver Island and the southwest mainland), 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have already been logged, including over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. 3.3 million hectares of productive old-growth forests once stood on the southern coast, and today 860,000 hectares remain, while only 260,000 hectares are protected in parks and Old-Growth Management Areas. Second-growth forests now dominate 75% of Vancouver Island’s productive forest lands, including 90% of southern Vancouver Island, and can be sustainably logged to support the forest industry. See maps and stats at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
Over the past few months, the Port Renfrew, Sooke, and WestShore Chambers of Commerce have spoken up for the protection of the old-growth forests in the Walbran Valley, while the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) and the councils of Victoria, Metchosin, and Tofino have also passed resolutions for the protection of the Walbran or all of Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests.