Outbound Collective logo

Old Growth Forests Are Still Being Logged on Vancouver Island

"If you cut down a forest, it doesn't matter how many sawmills you have if there are no more trees." Susan George

By: Kaila Walton + Save to a List

British Columbia’s old growth coastal forests have been being logged for many years now, and unfortunately it is still happening. The original productive old growth in the Southern Coast (Vancouver Island and the SW Mainland) was at 3.3 million hectares and as of 2012 only 860,000 hectares remained. Since BC has no logging protections on old growth forests that aren’t in provincial parks, it is safe to guess that that number has decreased as of this year. There are still pockets of Old Growth Forests scattered around Vancouver Island and other parts of BC that still need protection from being logged. 

The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) is a non-profit organization based in Victoria, British Columbia that aims to stop the logging of old growth-forests. Stopping logging all together isn’t the AFA’s goal, they also support sustainable second growth logging and want to stop the exportation of raw logs out of Canada. The most important thing to do is to raise awareness. Talking about old-growth logging and letting people know what is happening in BC’s backyard is a great place to start. Sharing photos of these endangered ancient forests in BC can inspire people from all over the world to see them in person, and have them fall in love with the trees and forests.  

An ancient cedar in  the Walbran Valley. Photo: @stasher_bc

Old-growth forests are fundamental pillars to British Columbia’s multi-billion-dollar tourism industry. People from near and far come to BC to visit our unprotected old-growth forests and provincial parks, some of which are named, Avatar Grove, Big Lonely Doug, and Cathedral Grove, which is in MacMillan Provincial Park. The Ancient Forest, which is located in Northern BC, was slated to be logged until a group of university students discovered it and worked very hard to protect the forest. Now the Ancient Forest is BC’s newest provincial park. The old-growth forests shouldn’t have to be made into provincial parks to be protected, there should be legislation in place to protect them regardless of where they reside. Old-growth forests are not only good for the tourism as they also offset climate change by storing two to three times more atmospheric carbon per hectare than the arising second-growth tree farms that they are being superseded with. Old growth forests are also home to a substantial selection of biodiversity; including many species at risk that need old-growth forest and that can’t thrive in younger forests.  

Big Lonely Doug near Port Renfrew. Photo: @stasher_bc

As of March 1st, the AFA and one of BC’s major forestry unions came to a resolution by the Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) which represents thousands of forestry workers in BC. The PPWC and AFA have called on the BC government to protect Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests, while ensuring a sustainable second growth forest industry and an end to raw log exports. This is a huge step in the right direction but there is still more work to be done!

Here's a list of things that British Columbians and anyone else can do to raise awareness or help.      

  • Visit these amazing places, take lots of photos, share with friends and let them know that old growth forests still need protected in BC.
  • Donate to the Ancient Forest Alliance, purchase some items from their shop or sign their petition.
  • Write to your local MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) and let them know that we need more protections for BC’s old-growth forests that don't reside in provincial parks and more sustainable second growth logging. Click here to find your local MLA.

An old growth Red Cedar near Ucluelet BC. Photo: @hervanislelife

Big Lonely Doug, notice how small the people are. Photo: @stasher_bc

An ancient cedar tree located between Port Renfrew and Jordan River. Photo: @hervanislelife

Ancient Forest Park in Northern BC. Photo: @kailawaltonphotography

Featured image by @stasher_bc

Here are a few videos of some short documentaries about the old growth forests on Vancouver Island, BC.

Thank you to Chris Istace and Amanda Catherine for allowing me to use their photos.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


Big Bend Bound: Crafting Your 3-Day Adventure

Erin Newman-Mitchell

A golden happy hour on the California coast

Hannah Sibley

Lake Tahoe's trifecta: 3 Days of adventure at Zephyr Cove

Ranz Navarro

10 Ways to make camping in Yosemite National Park even better

Meghan White

Review: Danner Mountain Light boots in Yosemite National Park

Hannah Sibley