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'Canada's mossiest rainforest' needs protection, Island groups say

Nov 29 2011
Robert Morales, left, and Roseanne Daniels of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group admire the massive, old-growth bigleaf maples in a grove near Cowichan Lake. 

Robert Morales, left, and Roseanne Daniels of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group admire the massive, old-growth bigleaf maples in a grove near Cowichan Lake.

Photograph by: ., TJ Watt

Old-growth forests come in all shapes and sizes and the province should be taking steps to protect that diversity, says Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance.

The Alliance and Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group have earmarked two stands near Cowichan Lake of giant old-growth bigleaf maple trees, which they're describing as "Canada's mossiest rainforest," and want the provincial government to buy the stands from TimberWest.

"To protect old-growth bigleaf maples on private lands, the government needs to allocate funds to systematically buy up these stands for conservation purposes," Wu said.

Most of B.C.'s better-known protected old-growth is made up of coniferous trees.

"This type of forest is new to most conservationists and to the general public, few of whom are aware of old-growth deciduous rainforests," Wu said.

However, forests ministry spokeswoman Jennifer McLarty said big leaf maples are common on southern Vancouver Island in many parks and protected areas.

"There are 862,125 hectares of old-growth forests on Crown land on Vancouver Island and, of that, 225,216 hectares are fully protected in parks, protected areas and old-growth management areas," McLarty said.

The two stands of maples are on traditional territory of bands belonging to Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group. Chief negotiator Robert Morales said their land-use plan calls for protection of the last old-growth remnants.

"The large-scale clearcutting on our unceded territories is an assault on our culture and on our human rights," Morales said.

TimberWest did not respond to questions Monday.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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