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Posted March 3, 2011

Al Jazeera to report from front lines of B.C.'s old-growth logging issue

A film crew from the Toronto office of Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based network, ventured to southwestern Vancouver Island to report on old-growth logging issues for the English version of the Arabic news network.

Vancouver Sun - Larry Pynn, March 3, 2011

Al Jazeera to report from front lines of B.C.'s old-growth logging issue
Click for larger image

A giant Douglas fir (left) and a red cedar (right) growing in the endangered Avatar Grove.
Photo by TJ Watt

B.C.’s old-growth logging issues, which have long been the focus of North American and European media, are about to reach a far broader audience.

A film crew from the Toronto office of Al Jazeera visited southwestern Vancouver Island recently to report on old-growth logging issues for the English version of the Arabic news network.

 "This will be the biggest international news hit for the old-growth campaign in a long time," Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance said Thursday. "There is a strong international market for environmental issues, particularly one that is very charismatic."

The Al Jazeera crew recently visited the so-called Avatar Grove, a stand of about 100 old-growth cedars and Douglas firs near Port Renfrew named after Canadian James Cameron's blockbuster movie. They also visited nearby the San Juan Spruce — largest of its species in Canada — and clearcut stumps.

"They were blown away," Wu said. "International audiences will be stunned to see not just trees with trunks as wide as living rooms ... but that the government endorses logging of these endangered stands."

One particularly gnarly cedar at Avatar Grove measures 11 metres in circumference near the base of its trunk, its distorted look attributed to a non-lethal fungal infection.

Forests minister Pat Bell has asked the province's chief forester to review existing regulations for protecting trees that, because of their age, have values that make them worth preserving.

The alliance is fighting to save not just the grove, but remaining old-growth stands on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland region. "This is one of the few jurisdictions where it's still the norm to cut down centuries-old trees." said Wu, noting the Al Jazeera report will broadcast on Saturday.

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