There’s nothing like labelling something with a name to give you that sense of ownership, but the Ancient Forest Alliance has played a clever card this week by naming one of the most at-risk, unprotected old-growth tree groves on the Island after B.C.’s premier.
“Christy Clark Grove” is the newest discovery for the AFA, and currently sits on unprotected public Crown lands not far from Port Renfrew in the Gordon River Valley, just a half-hour drive from the famous Avatar Grove that was recently protected due to public pressure. The grove includes dozens of ancient trees, including Canada’s eighth-widest known Douglas fir, the “Clark Giant,” standing at an enormous 10 feet wide in trunk diameter, and a burly Red Cedar over 13 feet wide, nicknamed the “Gnarly Clark.”
The group hopes the new name will motivate the premier to protect the grove and develop a plan to protect endangered old-growth forests across B.C., instead of supporting their continued destruction.
“We’re hoping that Christy Clark won’t let the ‘Christy Clark Grove’ get cut down, and will show some leadership by creating a plan to protect B.C.’s endangered old-growth forests,” says TJ Watt, AFA photographer and discoverer of the grove. “Already 75 per cent of Vancouver Island’s productive old-growth forests have been logged, including 90 per cent of the biggest trees in the valley bottoms. Why go to the end of an ecosystem when there is an extensive second-growth alternative now to sustain the forest industry?”
The AFA announced the grove after the provincial government released its “BC Forest Strategy” last week, which continues in what the alliance calls “generally destructive status quo policies.” Wood exports to China will be increased, as well as raw log exports and logs from old-growth hemlock-amabilis fir stands. One year ago, the government promised to create a new legal tool to protect B.C.’s largest trees and monumental groves, says AFA head Ken Wu, but so far nothing has materialized. Such a tool, Wu adds, could be used to protect the Christy Clark Grove, and the AFA is calling on Clark to do so.
“We’re still waiting on the B.C. government to show some leadership to create a conservation legacy in B.C. for our endangered old-growth forests, and to end raw log exports,” says Wu. “We want to give credit for good things. But we’re also prepping for a potential major battle in the lead-up to the B.C. election where there will be no prisoners taken, if need be.”