Ken Wu examiners an old-growth Douglas fir marked for logging.

Ken Wu examiners an old-growth Douglas fir marked for logging.

Avatar Grove closer to being protected

Proposal being drafted by Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources

  • Sep. 28, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Like the main character Jake Sully in 2009’s blockbuster movie Avatar, Ken Wu, founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance, feels drawn to protect a primeval wilderness. In Wu’s case, it’s Avatar Grove in Port Renfrew — which is now one step closer to protection.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has drafted a proposal for an amendment that would add 49 hectares in the Avatar Grove area as an old growth management area (OGMA), and an additional 10.4 hectares in nearby Axe Creek, making them both off-limits to logging.

“Certainly it’s an excellent step forward,” said Wu. “(But) we would like to see additional legislation for a provincial conservancy or park which would be more permanent protection.”

OGMAs fall under regulatory protection meaning it could potentially be modified or removed by the government without a vote. Parks and conservancies provide more permanent protection because they are created —and can only be eliminated —through a majority MLA vote, said Wu. Most parks also get designations on highway maps.

“It’s sort of like wearing a bear costume while you forage alongside grizzly bears. You’re never sure how long the protection’s going to last.”

The Ancient Forest Alliance has been pushing for government action since the organization formed in January 2010. Their goal is for B.C. to implement an old growth strategy that will inventory and protect all old growth forests and ensure sustainable second growth forestry. Prior to starting the AFA, Wu was the executive director of the Western Canada Wilderness Community in Victoria.

Wu said the town of Port Renfrew has been instrumental in helping turn Avatar Grove — named after the movie that coincidentally came out the same time the grove was discovered — into “an ancient forest campaign on steroids.” Everyday, it draws people locally and from all over the world to see the gigantic, gnarled trees.

Rosie Betsworth, president of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that there has been a “big increase” in their tourism industry.

“I was up there about a month ago, there were probably 25 people or so (visiting),” said Betsworth. “It’s brought a lot of business to Port Renfrew.”

There is, however, one caveat to the proposal.

With the combined 59.4 hectares that would be added to OGMAs, 57.4 hectares of mixed old growth/second growth is also being taken out from higher-elevation “bits and pieces” within Tree Farm License 46 owned by the Teal-Jones Group, said Wu.

“We’re not in favour of any kind of land swap scenario,” he said.

“We’ve already lost 90 per cent of the ancient forest on the southern Island, none of that should get logged. The other 90 per cent is already second growth now, they can log that sustainably and leave the last of the old growth.”

The amendment is now open to public comment. Comments can be emailed to RenfrewOGMA@gov.bc.ca until Nov. 9.

Just Posted

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

Colin Davidson won $100K on a Set for Life scratch ticket in Sooke. (BCLC photo)
Sooke man does ‘happy dance’ after scratching a $100,000 Set for Life win

Colin Davidson plans to renovate his home and invest in his daughter’s education

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read