Community| 4 min read

Remembering Our Roots: the Old Growth of Southern Vancouver Island

Learn all about the last 2.7% of BC old growth in Fairy Creek: why it’s important, the threat of logging and how to help protect it.
WRITTEN BY Mia McBryde

Let’s begin with an overview of what old growth forests and watersheds are, and why they are so important to our ecosystem.

What is an old growth forest?
Old growth forests on the coast of British Columbia are made up of trees that are at least 250 years old. These forests are home to incredible biodiversity, are extremely resilient in the face of environmental changes and are able to sequester carbon to slow climate change.

 

old growth aerial shot

 

What is a watershed?
A watershed is an area of land where water drains to a central point (a lake, river or stream). Watersheds filter, store and clean water for us, other animal species, and plant species.

What is Fairy Creek?
Fairy Creek is BC’s last intact old growth watershed, with rain-forest trees that have stood for thousands of years. This area sits on the traditional and unceded territory of the Pacheedaht Nation.

What is Happening?
In August 2020 peaceful protestors began fighting for the protection of the Fairy Creek Watershed. Over the last 9 months this fight for protection has expanded to saving the last 2.7% of productive old growth forests in British Columbia. Under the invitation of Elder Bill Jones over 2000 people have assembled at Fairy Creek.

 

peaceful protest at fairy creek

 

Why are people protesting?
The BC NDP government created an ‘Old Growth Strategies Review Report’ and committed to implementing the 14 noted recommendations. This included protecting the remaining old growth forests, creating more sustainable logging for second and third growth forests and increasing indigenous involvement and profit sharing. The NDP government put forward a timeline to begin these recommendations, but since then, logging has continued as usual. In April 2021, the Supreme Court passed an injunction to allow the cut of old growth trees in at-risk old growth ecosystems. The government has dismissed the voices of many members of the Pacheedaht Nation, whose sacred land the forestry is occurring on. The BC NDP is not fulfilling the promises they made to protect old growth forests in BC and create stronger relationships with indigenous communities.

This injunction is allowing for old growth clear cut in Fairy Creek Watershed, as well as Caycuse, Bugaboo Creek, Camper Creek, Edinburgh Mountain, Upper Walbran Watershed and the Central Walbran

 

caycuse before after

 

“I will continue standing for the land until I am dead. I feel like an old growth tree is worth the same as my life.” – Bill Jones

Why do we need to protect old growth?
Forests help sustain so much of our ecological world, but old growth has a particularly important job. Old growth forests….

Foster biodiversity: Old growth forests foster a complex ecological system filled with large trees, multiple canopies, rich soil, and are home to rare, threatened and endangered species. Because of the immense diversity of this ecosystem, old growth does an incredible job fostering biodiversity, and provides food and habitat for many species that are unable to live elsewhere.

Protect water systems: Old growth forests act as water filters, provide water storage and prevent flooding.

Are resilient to wildfires: Older and larger trees absorb water, retain moisture and regulate a forest’s temperature. This means forests are shaded, damp and less likely to fuel a fire.

Are global carbon sinks: The older a tree the greater its potential to sequester carbon and slow climate change. Old growth forests sequester 2.4 tonnes of carbon per hectare every year!

 

BC aerial of old growth

 

How can I help?

Sign Petitions: This link connects to multiple petitions where you can show your support for Fairy Creek and protecting old growth.

Call and send emails: Use this email script or this phone script to contact Premier John Horgan, Katrine Conroy, David Muter, George Heymen, Scott Bailey and your local MLA.

Share information on social media: Amplify information about Fairy Creek, and encourage others to do what they can to support saving old growth.

Donate: Donate money to camp for transportation, promotional material, accommodation, and communication to others outside the camp.

Go to Camp: Go to camp to participate in peaceful protests to protect old growth.

 

How can I learn more?

BC Old Growth Forest Information
Fairy Creek Website
Fairy Creek Instagram

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