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British Columbia Ancient Forests News


Posted April 22, 2010

Earth Day Media Release: Avatar’s James Cameron Invited by Environmental Group to Visit the Endangered “Avatar Grove” of Ancient Trees

April 22, 2010

Earth Day Media Release: Avatar’s James Cameron Invited by Environmental Group to Visit the Endangered “Avatar Grove” of Ancient Trees
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Huge alien shaped red cedars grow in numbers in Port Renfrew's "Avatar Grove". The area has developed the nickname due to its landscapes similarities with the blockbuster movie's land of Pandora.
Photo by TJ Watt

British Columbian environmentalists with the new environmental group, the Ancient Forest Alliance, are inviting James Cameron, director of the blockbuster film Avatar, to visit a spectacular but endangered old-growth forest on Vancouver Island nicknamed the “Avatar Grove” and to endorse its protection.

Today, the film Avatar is being released on DVD and blue ray disc to coincide with Earth Day, a release date chosen by Cameron in order to raise environmental awareness. Avatar is the highest grossing film at the box office in world history, generating $2.7 billion (US) in sales internationally (the next highest was the Titanic, also directed by Cameron, which grossed $1.8 billion US).

“Being Earth Day, I thought we’d try to go big and ask the director of the world’s most popular film, which has a very strong environmental theme about protecting old-growth forests, to come and see one of the world’s most spectacular but endangered old-growth forests here on Vancouver Island, and to endorse its protection,” states Ken Wu, co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests are the real Pandora here on Earth. We have giant fern-draped old-growth trees almost as large as Home Tree in Avatar, spectacular creatures like bears, wolves, mountain lions, wolverine, and elk in our forests, and enormous blue whales, killer whales, elephant seals, and Stellar sea lions along our Wild Coast.”

Since the film’s release Cameron has been on an environmental crusade, supporting the rights of Amazonian indigenous tribes and earlier this week criticizing the Alberta tar sands industry ( for its environmental destruction. The Ancient Forest Alliance has written a letter requesting that Cameron come to see the Avatar Grove at his convenience (but ideally before logging commences!) and to hopefully endorse its protection.

The Avatar Grove (see spectacular photos at: is an exceptionally spectacular and accessible stand of newly discovered old growth redcedars and Douglas firs on public (Crown) lands about 10 kilometers north of Port Renfrew. It was discovered in early December last year by Vancouver Island photographer and “big tree hunter” TJ Watt. Flagging tape marking the area for logging was discovered by Watt and Wu in February.

“The Avatar Grove is just about the most accessible and finest stand of ancient trees left in a wilderness setting on the South Island, including Canada’s gnarliest tree,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer. “All other unprotected old growth stands near Victoria are either on steep, rugged terrain far away along bumpy logging roads, or are small, isolated stands surrounded by clearcuts and plantations near human settlements. This area is a wild region on vast Crown lands, in a complex of over 1000 hectares of old-growth forests in the Gordon River Valley – only 5 minutes off the paved road, right beside the main logging road, and on relatively flat terrain. This could become a first rate eco-tourism gem if the BC government had the foresight to spare it. We requested that they enact a Land Use Order to protect it but received a negative reply last week from the Ministry of Forest and Range.”

Avatar Grove is in Tree Farm License (TFL) 46. TFL 46 is being logged by Surrey-based Teal Jones. The Grove is home to dozens of some of the South Island's largest redcedars and Douglas firs, including several trees with trunks that are over 13 feet in diameter. In addition, what is being dubbed as “Canada’s gnarliest tree” has been discovered in the Grove, an enormous redcedar with a giant woody growth caused by a non-lethal fungal infection, known as a “burl” (see So far no cutting permits have been issued to the company by the Forest Service.

According to satellite photos, already about 75% of Vancouver Island’s original, productive old-growth forests have been logged, including 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow.

Old-growth forests are important for sustaining species at risk, tourism, the climate, clean water, and First Nations traditional cultures.

The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC Liberal government to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests, ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests which now constitute the vast majority of the landbase in southern BC, and to end the export of raw logs to foreign mills in order to protect BC forestry jobs.

See the Vancouver Island photogallery of the largest trees and stumps of Vancouver Island on the Ancient Forest Alliance’s Facebook page at:

See the main website of the Ancient Forest Alliance at:
See the new petition of the Ancient Forest Alliance at:

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