Friday, September 16, 2005


“Biogeoclimatic Zones” may be hard to pronounce but what are they? The BC Ministry of forests has created a classification system to provide a framework for making forest and resource management decisions, primarily logging. The word breaks down to vegetation (bio), soil and geography (geo), and climate (climatic). This system allows a variety of forest environments to be named based on their similarities allowing the government to create a map that divides the province into 14 different Biogeoclimatic Zones.

Most of Vancouver Island is identified as Coastal Western Hemlock. This may be somewhat misleading since these forest consists of a wide variety of trees including: Red & Yellow Cedar, Balsam Fir, Alder, Maple, and Sitka Spruce to name a few. One very small zone has been identified as Coastal Douglas-Fir which exists only along the south-east of Vancouver Island, the west coast of Texada Island, and parts of the lower mainland. This zone is significant because it is the region that has been most heavily and consistently logged, with some areas being cut for the third time.

Another interesting term is: “endangered plant communities” which no longer applies since last year’s Water, Land and Air Protection Minister Bill Barisoff amended the provincial endangered-species list to remove endangered plant communities.

The provincial Conservation Data Centre classifies all 21 distinct plant communities within the coastal Douglas fir ecosystem as vulnerable, imperiled, or critically imperiled. Many of us who have the luxury of living in this region are familiar with plant species such as: Oregon grape, Pacific crab apple, salal, ocean spray, trailing blackberry, starflower, sword fern, bracken fern, cat-tail moss, and step moss in the Coastal Douglas fir forests. However, these plants living in this type of ecological community are specific to this tiny place on the planet. Thanks to the BC Liberal government they are completely without protection as are the birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that rely on these unique ecological areas.

Less than 1% of the Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem contains what are considered to be old growth trees, over 150 years old. Only a small fraction of the Douglas fir forest remains on Crown land. Almost all of what's left is on private lands owned by logging companies, primarily by Brascan and Timberwest. Recommendations from a recovery strategy ecological report were ignored by Vancouver Island district forest managers last year resulting in the approval of logging in sensitive area around Nanaimo which were an integral part of a limited ecosystem.

This is why it is so important that protection is maintained in the tiny areas that have been protected locally such as; Cathedral Grove, Rathtrevor Park, Englishman River Falls, and Little Qualicum River. These remnant forests still contain old growth trees, unlike the other 99% of the Coastal Douglas Fir Biogeoclimatic Zone.

This region suffers from extreme drought in the summer time and forest help to retain moisture. The fact that Douglas Fir were the most heavily targeted tree species accounts for the fact that there are almost no old growth trees left today.

Many people are calling for a ban on all old-growth logging on Crown lands within the Coastal Douglas fir zone. Given the limited amount of land left under public control in this limited ecosystem it would make sense to severely restrain logging on all privately held lands around the Strait of Georgia.

If you have concerns please contact your local MLA, Environment Minister Barry Penner, and Forests Minister Rich Coleman through 1-800-663-7867 or