AFA Executive Director Ken Wu stands alongside a row of Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees growing in a line out of a nurse log in the unprotected FernGully Grove near Port Renfrew. (Photo by TJ Watt)

Old-growth forest discovered outside Port Renfrew

Environmental group reaches out to government for funding to purchase and protect the land

The Ancient Forest Alliance has discovered a “magnificent old-growth forest” located 10 minutes away from Port Renfrew.

It’s the second major unprotected old-growth forest found this year.

The new forest is nicknamed FurnGully Grove, due to its vast understory of ferns, which makes it a good habitat for Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, wolves, cougars, and black bears, said AFA officials.

FurnGully Grove is also home to an 11-foot wide Sitka spruce tree, the 10th largest in Canada, according to the B.C. Big Tree Registry, as well as many other six to eight feet wide giants.

However, this new-found natural gem’s existence could potentially be in danger, as the land is owned by TimberWest and could be logged at any time, said AFA.

“This is the most impressive unprotected Sitka spruce grove we’ve come across in years,” said Ken Wu, AFA executive director.

“Finding a grove of unprotected giant Sitka spruce is highly significant, given that the vast majority them on Vancouver Island have been logged in the valley bottoms where they grow.”

The forest that was discovered earlier this year, called Jurassic Grove, is located along a three-kilometre stretch between Jordan River and Port Renfrew and is described as another Avatar Grove because of its accessibility, gentle terrain, and amazing trees.

“Lowland old-growth groves on southern Vancouver Island with the classic giants like this are about as rare as finding a Sasquatch these days – over 95 per cent of the forests like this have been logged on the South Island,” said Wu.

Though there are no proposed plans of logging Jurassic Grove, and there is no survey tape indicating FernGully will be logged yet, Wu said the groves need to be bought and protected by the province.

He added that TimberWest has agreed to not log some contentious sites they they own in the past, such as the Koksilah Ancient Forest, and hopes they will do the same for FernGully.

AFA campaigner Andrea Inness agreed suggesting the provincial government implement a land acquisition fund to buy and protect endangered ecosystems on private lands.

“On Crown lands, where most ancient forests remain, the B.C. government needs to implement a comprehensive, science-based plan to protect the remaining old-growth forests, while also supporting First Nations land use plans and financing sustainable economic development and diversification in those communities in lieu of old-growth logging,” said Inness.

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A man walks through a thicket of sword ferns in the unprotected FernGully Grove near Port Renfrew (Photo by TJ Watt)

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