Fighting to save the last of Canada's giant trees

A century of commercial logging has placed primeval forests, and their thriving ecosystems, on the cusp of extinction.

| | Weather, Environment

Vancouver Island, British Columbia - Canada's temperate rainforests, found on British Columbia's Pacific coast, contain some of the largest trees in the world - after California's redwoods and sequoias. The oldest of those trees are located in the southwest of the province where prodigious rainfall and mild winters allow relentless growth.

But more than a century of unrelenting commercial logging has placed primaeval old-growth forests - and the delicate ecosystems that thrive within them - on the cusp of extinction. Only a handful of the largest trees remain on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland areas of British Columbia.

Government regulation of logging activities in British Columbia has been lax. So responsibility for protecting old-growth forests from the most egregious logging practices has fallen to environmentalists, and at times, local indigenous communities. Protests and conservation campaigns, beginning in the 1980s, resulted in protection for a few areas. Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Great Bear Rainforest on the central and north coast, are a few of the better known examples.

But as the commercial logging industry pushes to find and cut down the last remaining tracts of old-growth, concern for those forests is widening among regular citizens who see greater value and meaning in big trees than as just an industrial commodity.

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