5/08/2018

Tree of Life Gets Little Respect

Wolf head canoe in Sooke River estuary approaching T'souke Nation
Tribal Journey, 2009 - photo by Trickster Art


In the coastal forest the Western red-cedar is known as the "tree of life". It is a good name for a tree that can maintain its own life for thousands of years. Although it is British Columbia's official tree, it currently gets little respect.

The cedar's downfall? Too useful, too profitable, and too vulnerable.



Unfinished cedar canoe on Haida Gwaii



Red-cedar has helped maintain human life on the coast for thousands of years. It has provided coastal First Nations with planks for homes, and large trunks for canoes and totem poles, the tall poles carved with family histories.

The tree of life also provides material for boxes, rope, clothes, and carvings. But for how long?




Cedar provides durable wood for canoes, long houses, totem poles, and more.



Increasingly, large red-cedar trees are becoming rare as logging companies vie for the last of the big ones. Finding large trees is becoming a global problem as native forests continue to disappear at an alarming rate.

In 1998, when Hawaiian canoe makers combed the islands for a native tree large enough to suit their purposes, they spent 9 months looking, and eventually gave up. They concluded that trees big enough for large canoe building were extinct.

Canoe makers on Haida Gwaii have also encountered difficulty in sourcing large Western red-cedar suitable for canoes and totem poles.




Haida totem pole made from cedar

The largest known Western red-cedar canoe in the world was carved in Sooke, BC by canoe makers from the T'Sou-ke First Nation in the early 1990's. The canoe, named KWA Q YUK, is 52 feet long.

Will there still be cedars big enough for a grand vessel of this size seven generations from now? Or even one generation?

The BC government must manage our public forests far better in order to ensure a sustainable yield of large Western red-cedar for cultural, and other uses. It is a job we have entrusted to them, and for decades they have failed.

Ending clearcut old growth logging as we know it today will help.

It is time to humble ourselves before the tree of life, not to mention before the peoples, and our hosts, that require this amazing tree to maintain their traditional ways of life.

You can do your part by refusing to purchase any old growth cedar for any reason. Even better, we can refuse to buy any products that originate in our disappearing primal forests.



3/28/2018

Mystery Tree




There are many fantastical things in an old forest. As evidence of this, a Vancouver Island Big Trees blog reader sent two photographs showing trees in the Victoria area. 

Their branching pattern looks more like calligraphy than anything. They dance and swing in a celebration of the temperate rainforest, one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. But who are the dancers? 

"What kind of trees are these?" the reader asked. 


T



I have a species in mind, but am wondering what readers think. What kind of tree in the coastal forest has such a bold branching pattern? Can you solve this mystery?

You can record your educated guess in the comment section below. Or just enjoy these beautiful photos of the magical calligraphy of old, undisturbed forests. What a joy to see their dance, and hear their story.

Note: If I remember correctly, these trees were photographed in Francis King Regional Park.




3/20/2018

Killing Ancient Trees Until They Are All Gone

You have to work hard to bring down an ancient red cedar that has been standing
in the primal forest for a thousand years, or more.


I found the photo above on a friend's Facebook account. It reportedly depicted a logging incident sometime recently on Vancouver Island. 

Like so much on social media, one can not be sure of what one is seeing. Is it one tree, or two? Even if it two, these represent large, old trees, the likes of which are disappearing in our coastal temperate forests.

Upon doing a bit of research, I found information that lent some credibility to this photo and the time in which is was taken. I hoped that it was a photo from decades ago when we were less enlightened. Maybe it is.

But the fact of the matter is that B.C.'s old growth trees, most of which are massive and ancient, continue to be cut down. When these trees go, so goes the health of the forest ecosystem.

When do we stop? Is the plan to cut all old growth down, for the profit of Wall Street hedge funds? What will the logging industry do then? 

Whatever they plan on doing when the old growth is driven to extinction, should be done now. BEFORE all the big, old trees are gone.

At this point, all remaining old growth forests on Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland are worth much more left standing than they are by cutting them down. People want to see these magical forests. There is no such thing as a magical clearcut.

If we allow corporate logging interests to kill the ancient trees until they are all gone, B.C., and the world, will be at a great loss. Our ancestors will wonder what was wrong with us, and why we allowed such beautiful living things to be liquidated.





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