Ancient Trees: and More

Ancient Trees: and More

Forests along British Columbia’s coast are considered old growth forests if they contain trees that are 250 or more years old. Prior to the arrival of the early explorers in the late 1700’s the coastal areas were entirely composed of old growth forests. However, after more than a century of logging, old growth trees are difficult to find in areas close to urban centres. 

Today, on Vancouver Island,  one can view easily accessible old growth trees in two provincial parks. John Dean Provincial Park is a beautifully forested 174 hectares. It is the only place on the Saanich Peninsula where you are able to hike amongst  old growth Douglas Fir forests and untouched Garry Oak meadows. Cathedral Grove within the 168 hectares of MacMillan Provincial Provincial Park is located on Highway 4 between Qualicum Beach and the small coastal towns of  Tofino and Ucluelet. It is a very popular park with examples of old growth trees in excess of 800 years old.

My favourite, however, is Avitar Grove Provincial Park a 2 hour drive from Victoria near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island’s wild west coast. It is a protected area of the Ferry Creek water shed. Unprotected areas extend past the Avitar Grove. Logging still occurs there but an agreement  between the BC Government and the local First Nations has resulted in a 2 year logging moratorium. 

The ancient trees in each of these parks are magnificent. The enormity of the trees  and the smallness of new growth, ferns, fungi and the multitude of critters that exist amongst them is mind boggling. They are such special and beautiful places. 

The entire ecosystem of an old growth forest has so much to photograph. When I visit John Dean Provincial Park or Cathedral Grove it is usually for a short visit so I just take my camera outfitted with either a 50mm or an 85mm lens.  Both parks are close to where we usually stay so return trips are easy. I’ve been to Avitar Grove twice. The terrain and the remoteness of this location means visits will be few and far between. In this case I take my entire bag of lenses and a tripod. 

(click on each image to enlarge)

My compositions when in an old growth ecosystem reflect the beauty of the forest’s atmosphere. I like to depict the juxtaposition of size between the huge trees and the lush beauty of the ferns, fungi and leaves of the surrounding vegetation. In second growth areas that were logged decades ago and ‘replacement’ trees have grown in, I focus on the stumps of the original old growth trees and remnants of the infrastructure that was built to transport logs to nearby mills. 

Today in British Columbia, there is an ongoing debate about logging and the preservation of old growth trees. Much thought is going into the definition of a new policy and how our First Nations peoples will be involved in the stewardship of these beautiful areas in our province. I hope that these discussions include the whole forest ecosystem. The old growth forest is so much more than just the trees.  

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Beautiful images, Stu. Walking into our magnificent forests surrounds one with calmness and a sense of awe. Your images evoke those feelings.

    1. Thanks for your comment Corol. I too love the calmness of a walk in the forest, especially an old growth forest. The trees there are absolutely awesome, the ecosystem pristine.

  2. Dear Stu, we are currently on the hunt for the “Survivor”, 4.7 Kms past Lynn Headwaters, on the way to Norvan Falls, on the North Shore of Vancouver. We tried to find it , but didn’t have the exact co ordinates. We got them now and will try again. We literally couldn’t find the tree for the forest. We were probably within 5 minutes of it but we were floundering in the snow. Are you familiar with it?

    1. Hi Erica, I have heard about the ‘Survivor’ but never have I seen it or any pictures of it. I certainly would love that experience.Thank you for your comment and the heads up about the ‘Survivor’.

  3. I felt like an electrical current was going through me as I read your blog and viewed your photos. The magic is able to permeate even a computer screen. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. There definitely is a mystical feeling when one enters an old growth forest. I certainly feel an unseen presence when I walk amongst ancient trees. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Thanks! I so worry about the old growth forests. We so need this ecosystem! To maintain balance in our world

    1. Thanks for your comment Sharron! I’m hopeful that old growth forests will be preserved. They really are the lungs of our world.

  5. Such amazing and beautiful photos, Stu. We have never been to John Dean Park or the Avatar Forest. One of my favourite images is of the tiny tree growing from a rock in the middle of the water…is that near Fairy Creek? Your captures do stir the soul.??

    1. Thanks for commenting Cathy. The tiny tree is indeed near Fairy Creek not far from Port Renfrew.

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