Business group proposes logging ban to save old-growth forest on Vancouver Island

Old growth forests

Business leaders of Port Renfrew, British Columbia, are calling for a ban on logging the ancient trees that grow in Vancouver Island’s Walbran Valley—despite the fact that the community once thrived on forestry.

That’s because the tourism these majestic trees drive has made an even greater economic impact on the community. According to Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce president, Dan Hager, tourists who come to see these forests have created a multimillion-dollar economy.

“The bottom line is it’s great for business,” Hager told The Canadian Press in an interview on Monday.

But they’re much more than that.

According to the Ancient Forest Alliance, which has lobbied extensively for Walbran Valley’s protection, the region has the biggest, most densely packed groves of old-growth western red cedars in the country, some of which date as far back as 1215. They’re also some of the largest trees on record; many have a circumference of up to five metres, dwarfing those who stand beside them.

But a provincial fact sheet was released earlier this year, which stated that a company has an approved cutting permit to log 3.2 hectares east of Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park.

The park, which covers more than 16,000 hectares of forest on Vancouver Island’s west side, was first created in 1990 as a result of massive protests that took place to protect the ancient trees.

Aerial view of Walbran Valley. (Photo by Global News)

According to the Port Renfrew chamber, which represents 73 local businesses, the unprotected portion of Walbran Valley is where tourists visit most. That’s why the chamber released a statement calling on the provincial government to immediately ban logging in the valley, including areas outside the park.

“These trees are spectacular,” Hager said. “There’s almost no place in the country where trees like this are accessible to the public.”