When was the last time you found yourself in an intact, pristine forest that had never been logged? How far did you have to travel to arrive there?
You might be misled into thinking that a forest with large cedar trees is one of these unlogged areas. However, look closely and you will probably see large stumps of Douglas fir which became the choice of forest companies at the turn of the century. There are exceptionally large cedar trees in the Morrell Nature Sanctuary, some of which are more than 400 years old. (“Old Doug” is one such tilting giant, located on the northwest side of Morrell Lake).
It takes approximately 175 to 250 years for nature to nourish an old-growth forests under natural conditions. The forest needs at least 2 species of trees that are over 250 years old to be classified “old growth”.
A stand of ancient trees closest to Nanaimo is found 65 kilometres to the west in Cathedral Grove. The largest trees are 800 years old and measure 250 feet in height and nearly 30 feet in circumference. This park covers an area of 300 hectares, some of which people can walk through groomed paths to experience this green, breath-taking canopy. This is a remnant of our province before logging changed it forever.
Cathedral Grove on the busy Alberni Highway displays much like a “forest museum” similar to a tourist attraction by the same name near Duncan on Vancouver Island. For many children, this latter venue will be the closest they every come to being in one of BC’s rain forests. You will have to travel much further west to experience a “wilderness of trees”. The Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is one such treasure!
The good news is that forests like the one in Morrell will re-establish their colossal trees in another century if the climate remains like that of today.
John Anderson is a volunteer with the Morrell Nature Sanctuary