Today, members of Friends of Carmanah/Walbran, many involved in protests in the early 90s and current volunteer efforts to provide recreational access to the unprotected old-growth rainforests along the borders of Carmanah/Walbran Provincial Park, will be joining in solidarity with the Wilderness Committee on the Legislature grounds at 10 am, for a presentation of thousands of postcards signed by citizens calling for the protection of the Central Walbran Ancient Forest, the Walbran Valley’s 485 hectare area of endangered temperate rainforest, imminently threatened by Teal Jones logging.
For months, volunteers of the Friends of Carmanah/Walbran (FOCW) have been working on providing safe public trail access into one of Canada’s most ecologically significant and threatened old-growth forests, an area left out of the Carmanah/Walbran Provincial Park, when it was created in 1995.
“Friends of Carmanah Walbran are doing the job that should be done by
government, in providing public trail access to a provincial park and in seeking the protection of a rare and non-renewable natural resource that should have been protected when the park was established. We expect the Ministry to step up and extend protection to this irreplaceable natural wonder,” said group spokesperson Erika Heyrman.
FOCW has recently established a Witness Camp in the popular wilderness
recreation area of the Walbran Valley. Volunteers have constructed outhouses, a kitchen shelter with sink and cooking facilities and a communal seating area for people to camp comfortably in all weather. For members of the public who wish to witness the beauty of the forest at risk, the camp provides wilderness camping facilities and weekly guided hikes of the area slated to be heli-logged.
The group has emphasized that opposition to logging in the Black Diamond
Grove is the first stage in a broader campaign to oppose all logging plans for the pristine old growth area. Eight cutblocks in total are being proposed, with 4424 being the first to attain permit. Included in the Teal Jones logging plan for the area are proposals for further road-building and clearcut logging close to the fabled Castle Grove, arguably Canada’s most spectacular remaining old-growth cedar forest.
“To destroy a rare, world-class ecological heritage for short-term profit is pure folly. The industry must transition immediately to renew itself on the second growth wood-base and leave these last jewels of wild nature alone,” said Bobby Arbess, FOCW campaigner.
FOCW cites the significance these last remnants of old-growth rainforest play in stimulating the tourism industry on Vancouver Island, providing economic spinoffs for small rural communities like Cowichan Lake, Honeymoon Bay, Jordan River and Port Renfrew.
“Every time someone travels through one of these small towns en route to the Walbran valley and stops for a bite at a local restaurant, that is an example of the truly sustainable old-growth forest economy. This explains the noticeable shift in support for the Walbran that we have seen in these towns compared to two decades ago” added Arbess.
“I have seen first-hand the economic benefits of Tall Trees Tourism in my
community. People travel from all over the world to come here. The logging of thousand year old trees is not a sustainable economy and has little benefit locally once they are cut. They are worth so much more standing,” said Jon Cash of Port Renfrew.
Friends of Carmanah/Walbran
Erika Heyrman, Campaign co-ordinator-
Old-Growth Forest Tourism Co-ordinator