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Posted November 16, 2010

Avatar Grove: Donít Miss It

Letís focus on better managing our second growth forests

Community Report - John Horgan MLA Juan de Fuca, October 1, 2010

Many of you will have seen James Cameron’s movie, Avatar. It’s set in the distant world of Pandora, where industrialization threatens both the indigenous people and the planet’s environment.

Some of you may have heard that we have our own ‘Avatar Grove’ on southern Vancouver Island. Located just 15 minutes from Port Renfrew, the Grove is a magnificent place populated with oldgrowth red cedars including ‘Canada’s Gnarliest Tree,’ a giant tree with a 12 foot wide, contorted burl.

I recently took a trip to Port Renfrew to see the trees for myself. Ken Wu and TJ Watt of the Ancient Forest Alliance gave myself, Mike Hicks, the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director, and Jon Cash of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce a tour of Avatar Grove and a nearby clearcut littered with giant stumps. The contrast was striking.

I believe there is more value in oldgrowth forests standing up than there is lying on the ground. They sustain species at risk, assist in our attempt to fight climate change, and encourage opportunities for education and eco-tourism. Rather than logging this area, providing a few months of short-term employment, I would rather we develop a plan to get more value from our oldgrowth forests.

Forest-dependent communities, First Nations and local government need to know the province’s land base can still provide jobs. But what is missing is the provincial government’s plan to make it happen.

Long-term, stable jobs can be created on the land base. Let’s focus on better managing our second growth forests. Developing value added industry by providing log owners opportunities for sales here on Vancouver Island.

Much of our productive lands on Vancouver Island have already been logged so it’s obvious that the future of forestry is in sustainable second-growth harvesting. Sawmills need to be re-tooled to deal with second-growth timber. Updating the mills will keep workers in the forest and support our local economies.

Our second growth forests can and should provide local employment not just in the woods but through remanufacturing wood locally. Our region was built on forestry and I believe we can be sustained by local value added manufacturing.

Eco-tourism is crucial to this plan. Encouraging travelers from across the globe to visit our region, stay in hotels, eat in local restaurants, shop at local stores – the economic benefits are obvious. And we get to share with the world what we already know, that the beauty and the majesty of Vancouver Island is unmatched and that we will do all we can to preserve it.

I’d encourage you to visit Avatar Grove. To take it all in before, sadly, it may be too late.


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