Canada’s grandest old-growth rainforest at risk from logging, survey tape discovered

One of Canada’s most iconic rainforests is under threat as signs of  logging have been discovered in the heart of the Upper Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island.

Canada’s Grandest Rainforest at Risk. Photo by TJ Watt
Canada’s Grandest Rainforest at Risk. Photo by TJ Watt
All photos by TJ Watt

One of Canada’s most iconic and grandest old-growth temperate rainforests is under threat as signs of potential logging have been discovered in the heart of the Upper Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island.

Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) activists TJ Watt and Jackie Korn recently documented survey tape marked “Falling Boundary” and “Road Location” in the Central Walbran Ancient Forest, one of the last, largely-intact sections of the unprotected portion of the valley.

The Surrey-based logging company, the Teal Jones Group, has the logging rights to the area.

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 Central Walbran Ancient Forest (currently under potential logging threat) which abuts against the boundary of the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park.

“Because of the ideal growing conditions in the region, Canada’s temperate rainforests reach their most magnificent proportions in the Walbran and Carmanah Valleys,” stated Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer TJ Watt. It's our version of America's redwoods. Unfortunately, the upper half of the Walbran Valley remains open for logging. The area currently threatened, as well as the Castle Grove, constitute the most ecologically significant and intact sections left in the Upper Walbran Valley. They must be protected."

So far, Teal Jones has not applied for any cutting or road building permits in the Central Walbran Ancient Forest, according to an email from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations to the Ancient Forest Alliance. However, the flagging tape clearly denotes the company’s interest in potentially logging the area, although the company appears to still be in “survey and assessment” mode.

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.

“Across southern Vancouver Island, the remaining unprotected old-growth forests are heavily tattered,” said Ancient Forest Alliance executive director Ken Wu. The Central Walbran Ancient Forest is still largely intact and represents some of the ‘last of the best’ old-growth temperate rainforest in Canada - to let it get logged would be a national travesty. The BC Liberal government should immediately take steps to protect this area in the Upper Walbran Valley, which has been Ground Zero for the ancient forest movement on southern Vancouver Island for over two decades.”

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