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British Columbia Ancient Forests News
Canada's second largest Douglas Fir tree found in B.C.
Metro News, March 24, 2014Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer T.J. Watt measures Big Lonely Doug, an old growth Douglas Fir near Port Renfrew, B.C.
Big Lonely Doug is a survivor.
The gigantic Douglas fir has weathered storms, earthquakes and a massive logging operation, but according to environmentalists on Vancouver Island, its days are numbered.
“With the other trees gone, there’s no more wind buffer,” said Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “Its largest branch was blown off by the wind a few weeks ago, and the whole tree itself is in peril.”
Along with his colleague T.J. Watt, Wu spotted the tree months ago in a logged-out area near Port Renfrew, but only had the chance to measure it last week.
At approximately four metres wide and 69 metres tall, it’s believed to be the second largest Douglas fir ever recorded in Canada.
“It’s so big it’s like arriving at a small planet,” Wu said. “It’s one of those trees that produces awe in people.”
The area around Big Lonely Doug was logged in 2012 by a Vancouver-based timber firm, leading Wu and Watt to give the tree its “lonely” moniker.
“I can only imagine what a spectacular landscape it would have been two years ago, filled with Douglas firs and ten-foot wide cedars,” Wu said. “Now it looks like a moonscape, except for this one, huge tree.”
Based on the rings of nearby stumps, Wu estimates Lonely Doug is 1,000 years old.
The Ancient Forest Alliance has spent years tracking down Vancouver Island’s largest trees in an effort to bring awareness to the plight of old growth forests. Claiming only 10 per cent of the productive, old growth forest on the Island is under protection, Wu believes more regulation is needed.
“Second-growth forests in B.C. are logged every 50 years, so if you lose something that doesn’t come back for another 1,000 years, it’s gone for good,” he said. “And all the creatures associated with these ancient forests lose their habitat.”
Wu said the forest around Big Lonely Doug would have served as habitat for the endangered Queen Charlotte goshawk.
To bring attention to their cause, Wu and Watt have dubbed the old growth tract around Doug the “Christy Clark grove,” after B.C.’s premier.
“The grove was named after the premier as a strategy to put her on the spot and in the spotlight to have to take responsibility to protect the area’s ancient forests,” Wu said.
The area is definitely home to some large trees. In fact, the world’s largest Douglas fir — standing 73.8 metres tall — is only one valley away, and record-setting cedars and spruces are also nearby.
Andy MacKinnon, an ecologist who manages the B.C. Big Tree Registry, said the discovery of Lonely Doug could help spur conservation efforts in the area.
“If you’re trying to save a grove of trees and you can point to a tree as being one of the largest in the world… that gets a lot more press and a lot more attention, and it indirectly affords the area a kind of protection,” he said.
MacKinnon points to a giant Sitka spruce that led to a portion of the Carmanah Valley on Vancouver Island being designated a provincial park.
“That whole campaign and some of its best publicity was built around the Carmanah Giant,” he said.
MacKinnon expects Big Lonely Doug may be among the world’s ten largest Douglas firs, but he’s waiting until he can officially measure it before adding it to the registry.
For more information on large trees in the province, visit the B.C. Big Tree Registry, or consult the Google map below (follow news link below to view) created by Craig Williams.