By: Chloë Arneson, News Writer
On June 24, Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) announced the fourth-widest tree in Canada was found in the Lynn Headwaters regional park in North Vancouver.
Two big-tree hunters, Colin Spratt and Ian Thomas, found the 5.8 metre wide ancient Western Red Cedar on their recent expedition, naming it “The North Shore Giant.” This giant cedar is the widest tree found in Canada in over 34 years and is estimated to be more than 1000 years old. The British Columbia Big Tree Committee will soon be visiting the tree to confirm its measurements for entry into BC’s tree registry.
The park, situated on the unceded xʷməθkwəy̓əm Musqueam, skwxwú7mesh Squamish, and səl̓ílwətaɬ Tsleil-Waututh nations, is known for its large trees, but faced “aggressive logging in the 19th and early 20th century” which resulted in drastic forest loss, according to AFA’s press release. AFA noted Lynn Valley might have been home to the tallest trees on earth, but “castle-like stumps are all that remain of the ancient trees that once dominated the region.”
Ian Thomas, AFA researcher, noted this tree was one of few that are protected by a park. “Most of our richest ancient forests are still unprotected and in danger of being logged,” he said.
Many are criticizing the lack of action to control logging limits in these areas, specifically after the issue was used as a political talking point in both the provincial and federal elections since the blockades began to attract global attention.
In summer 2021, a swell of protests to protect old-growth forests broke out across BC. By September 2021, there were 882 arrests made at Ada’itsx Fairy Creek, which was considered the “largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history,” according to CBC. The blockades are led by a grassroots organization, Rainforest Flying Squad.
Sage Barson,an 18 year old Iroquois Mohawk land defender, attended the Fairy Creek protests. She told Teen Vogue, “As an Indigenous person, we care about all living creatures.” Barson added, “I’m not just there for the trees. I’m there for the whole ecosystem that comes with the old-growth forest because we care about the trees, we care about the insects, the moss, the salmon, all the biodiversity that comes with those ecosystems.”
TJ Watt, a AFA campaigner, said, “this is one of the most remarkable big-tree finds of this century and it just shows how special the old-growth forests in BC are.”
As a response to the BC government’s overestimation of remaining old growth, a 2020 report found that productive old forests with the potential to grow very large trees cover less than 3% of the province. BC reports that 23% of remaining forest is old growth forest, but by using this definition, it is only one percent. The study describes the irreplaceable biodiversity these ecosystems provide. “They will ensure that the status quo of industrial clearcutting of the last unprotected old-growth stands occurs,” Watt said.
Watt discussed his hopes after this historic find, stating, “support for Indigenous old-growth protection initiatives and the associated sustainable economic development in the communities is needed, along with a major, dedicated land acquisition fund to purchase and protect old-growth forests on private lands.”