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Avatar Grove now protected

Upper Avatar Grove - Ancient Forest Alliance
Upper Avatar Grove
— image credit: Ancient Forest Alliance

Pirjo Raits

Sooke News Mirror

 

Ken Wu called it a "campaign on steroids," and Rose Betsworth called it a "soft approach," but whatever it was called, the provincial government listened.

On February 16, Minister Steve Thomson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced that all of Avatar Grove is now protected from harvesting.

Wu, co-founder of  the Ancient Forest Alliance, said he would like to commend the B.C. government for protecting this key old growth forest.

"Eventually we would like to see it as a legislated park or conservancy," said Wu.

Rose Betsworth, president of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce is understandably pleased. For her community it means Avatar Grove will be made more accessible with upgrades to the trails and tidying up the area.

"Now we can make it better for everybody... we can put a trail in and do upkeep," said Betsworth.

She said the Ancient Forest Alliance had the right approach which was  a soft one where they educated people and gained respect out of that. The AFC included forestry workers' and the small business community's comments and concerns in their efforts to save the grove.

"They're not a bunch of radicals," said Betsworth in referring to the way the AFA conducted their campaign.

The campaign led to a public review and comment period during the fall of 2011 where 232 out of 236 comments expressed support for preservation of the grove.

The unique stand of old-growth cedar near Port Renfrew is now protected in an expanded old-growth management area, totaling 59.4 hectares,

TJ Watt, the other co-founder of AFA, came across the grove in December 2009, popularized it and began the goal of preserving the monumental stand of valley-bottom ancient red cedars and Douglas fir.

"We commend the BC government for protecting this key tract of extremely rare valley bottom ancient forest - virtually all of the valley bottoms on southern Vancouver Island where the biggest trees grow have been logged, literally 95 per cent of them, ” stated TJ Watt. “At the same time, thousands of hectares of old-growth forests are being logged every year on Vancouver Island, and millions of hectares of old-growth forests are endangered across B.C. Our main goal is to see a new provincial plan to protect all of B.C.’s endangered old-growth forests and to ensure a sustainable second-growth forest industry instead.”

 

To fulfil the province's obligation to Teal-Jones Group, which holds

the logging rights for Tree Farm Licence 46 where Avatar Grove is

located, the boundaries of other old-growth management areas were

adjusted by removing 57.4 hectares.

 

Of the 862,125 hectares of old-growth forests on Crown land on

Vancouver Island, it's estimated that over 520,000 hectares will

never be harvested.

 

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