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Old growth cedars harvested because of database errors, says environmental group

An environmental group is urging the province to protect more old growth forests, after documenting a recent clear cut on northern Vancouver Island.

On May 10 the Ancient Forest Alliance published photos and drone footage of 25 hectares of forest in Quatsino Sound, which was logged in 2022. Members of the group visited the site last year, finding fallen western red cedars up to 10 feet wide.

Photographer TJ Watt says groves of big trees are extremely rare after 100 years of logging. He says the grove was cut down because of errors in the provincial forestry database, incorrectly identifying the age of the trees.

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The group is calling on government to fix the errors by sending people to visually inspect forests, making sure they are correctly identified.

They also say the government needs to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to protect old forests.

“At least $120 million in ‘solution space’ funding is needed immediately to help facilitate logging deferrals by ensuring that First Nations communities aren’t forced to choose between setting aside at-risk old growth and generating revenue for their communities,” says Watt in an Ancient Forest Alliance press release. “In the longer term, at least $300 million in conservation financing is needed from the province and another $300 million more from the feds, as well as hundreds of millions more from private donors, to support First Nations’ sustainable economic development, stewardship jobs, and creation of new Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) linked to protecting the most at-risk old-growth forests and ecosystems.”

The BC government has committed to protect 30 per cent of BC’s land area by 2030, and develop a conservation financing mechanism to support Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas by the end of June, with protection for the most biodiverse areas.

The environmental group’s work was supported by a grant from the Trebek Initiative.

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