TimberWest logging the Sooke Potholes Forest.
Sooke River just before the potholes.
Vancouver Island, BC
This wanton destruction wiped out the final tract of ancient fir forest in the Sooke River Valley, leaving a stumpfield and future development site. Ingmar Lee explains that he took the top photos in the collage about five years ago, when the ancient fir forest at the Sooke Potholes was still wild and pristine (left). The bottom photos were taken in May 2005, after TimberWest had begun its clearcut logging operation. They show that about half of the grand old Douglas firs are gone: "I was heart broken that this beautiful and exceedingly rare forest habitat was destroyed so secretly and so quickly to within ten metres of the most famous stretch of the potholes."
Old growth logs, 2006.
"Oftentimes on a summers morning, I head out to the Sooke Potholes, where I strip off all my clothes and swim naked into a most wondrous whelm of wilderness. Immersed in the crystal clear waters of the Sooke River, and looking up through the lofty boughs of the hoary old fir trees which cloak the valley, the sublimity of nature deeply permeates ones being. Drifting under the ancient trees one slowly sinks out of this world, and on through the realm of hamadryads and satyrs, and beyond. All of the physical conditions for the human being's most ultimate quest are to be found here. No cathedral, no masjid, no mandir, vihara or synagogue can offer such immersion into that primaeval place from whence we have all evolved" Tragedy and Travesty(Ingmar Lee).
|Stop Killing Big Trees|
The annihilation of rare and endangered big trees adjacent to Cathedral Grove in year 2000 by the American logging company Weyerhaeuser (successor of MacMillan Bloedel) was an ecological crime. To the premier of British Columbia (BC): "We turn to you with a Christmas appeal (right), which is that the BC government make the industrial logging of big trees illegal. These trees are symbolic of the magnificent nature of BC, just as the eagles, grizzlies, whales and salmon are. They belong to an ancient ecosystem with a rich biodiversity and it is our duty to preserve such trees and their forest habitats for future generations. Moreover, big trees are an integral part of the cultural heritage of the First Nations and they were sustainably managed long before the colonization of the Pacific Northwest. . . "
|MacMillan Park Stumpfield|
Scores of visitors from all over the world come to see Cathedral Grove, a rare surviving stand of big trees on Vancouver Island. Not long ago this tiny 157 hectare park was part of a magnificent and ancient rainforest ecosystem containing many thousand year old trees. Most of this ecosystem was plundered by H. R. MacMillan, the first provincial appointed forester in BC and one of its most powerful timber barons. In 1944, with great reluctance, this notorious "Emperor of Wood" donated Cathedral Grove to BC and it became "MacMillan Park." On 5 January 2005 forest activists found a survey crew in the woods and took a photo of their base map (right). Not until months later was the secretly negotiated deal to expand the beleaguered park with a stump field announced with great hoopla.
Old growth logging next to Cathedral Grove, 2001.
Photo: Richard Boyce
The Friends of Cathedral Grove (FROG) rejected the miserly stump field donation by the logging company and called for the some 400 hectares of standing ancient forest in the Cameron Valley directly adjacent to Cathedral Grove to be expropriated from Weyerhaeuser. FROG proposes that this land be returned to the First Nations whose historic stewardship and usage is everywhere evident: "Backroom land deals between government and Weyerhaeuser will continue to leave First Nations and the general public without a voice" 5 January 2005:FROG Press Release.
"Here's Weyerhaeuser once again trying to flog off a logged out stump field to the people of BC for millions of dollars. The land is now useless to Weyerhaeuser and is nothing but a tax burden to them." FROG warned the BC government that the MacMillan Stump Field Addition did not mitigate the negative impacts of its misguided plan to construct a large parking lot on the floodplain of Cameron River, upwind of the already stressed big trees in Cathedral Grove.
The "MacMillan Park Addition" was a cutblock withdrawn from Weyerhaeuser's private timber tenure which surrounds Cathedral Grove (left). The 140 acre "donation" was added to the 21 hectare stump field which the BC government bought from Weyerhaeuser in 1999 for $1.7 million. Notably both backroom deals excluded the commercially valuable old growth forest remnants that provide a vital buffer for Cathedral Grove.
New addition to MacMillan Park, 2005.
|European Tree of the Year: Horse Chestnut|
To celebrate the heritage trees of Germany, a Kuratorium selects one particular species each year: Baum des Jahre. In 2005: Die Rosskastanie. In 2006: Schwarz Pappel. In 2007: Wald Kiefer. In 2008: Die Walnuss. On the Chesnut (right): "This is one of the most beautiful, best liked and best known trees in the cities and avenues of Europe. The shade given by the crown of the Horse Chestnut is very dense, making it an ideal tree for beer gardens. Many substances contained in the bark, leaves, flowers and fruits of the Horse Chestnut can be used in nature healing. Hardly any other tree species has so much to offer in this respect." It seems ironic indeed that in European countries big trees are celebrated as icons of heritage while in BC they are being wiped out by clearcut logging for the global commercial wood products market.
|Viva Touristika Rostock|
As the "No. 2" foreign destination for German tourists, Canada was the focus of a special section of the 2005 Rostock Tourism Exposition, called "Viva Touristika." About 13,000 visitors were introduced to Canada's official tourism advertising campaign: "Canada: Discover Our True Nature." But the exposition organizers also wanted to give an alternative and non-commercial view of Canada, so they invited two German environmental groups to participate: ArbeitsKreis noerdliche Urwaelder (AKU), or the Network for the Preservation of Northern Primaeval Forests, and its partner organization Urgewald. The environmentalists presented a "behind the scenes" view of nature destruction in British Columbia (BC) in a poster gallery of pictures and text supplemented by lectures and interviews (right).
German environmental activists, Rostock, 2005.
AKU activists (from left: Imke Oncken, Lydia Bartz, Christian Offer, Stephan Roehl, Jutta Beher) informed people that the wild nature scenery promoted by the tourism industry in BC hides the grim reality of the international wood products industry. See: AKU Stand. For a report in German, see: AKU auf Touristikmesse. Press commentary on thepointed to the need for a "sanften Tourismus," a new form of sustainable tourism based on indigenous cooperation.
One of the posters condemned the killing of grizzly bears for trophies and sport by German tourist hunters. Although the European Union banned the import of such trophies in 2006, Germans remain second only to American big game hunters as the most enthusiastic killers of Canadian grizzlies.