From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published July 23, 2012 09:14 AM

Saving Avatar Grove: the battle to preserve old-growth forests in British Columbia

A picture is worth a thousand words: this common adage comes instantly to mind when viewing T.J. Watt's unforgettable photos of lost trees. For years, Watt has been photographing the beauty of Vancouver Island's ancient temperate rainforests, and documenting their loss to clearcut logging. The photographer and environmental activist recently helped co-found the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA), a group devoted to saving the island's and British Columbia's (BC) last old-growth while working with the logging industry to adopt sustainable practices. This February the organization succeeded in saving Avatar Grove—which was only discovered in 2009—from being clearcut. The grove, a rare stand of massive and ancient trees named after the popular eco science-fiction movie, has become a popular tourist destination, providing a new economic incentive for communities to protect rather than cut Canada's last great forests.

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"If we have laws that recognize and protect Heritage Buildings that are 100 years old, why don’t we have laws that recognize and protect our 1,000 year old Heritage Trees?," Watt told mongabay.com in a recent interview, nothing that, "Old-growth forests provide clean air and water for both people and salmon; they help mitigate climate change by storing twice the amount atmospheric carbon that second-growth plantations do; they are pillars of a multi-billion dollar tourism industry; and are important to many First Nations cultures. They're what make BC, BC—a place of wild beauty with the finest remaining intact ancient temperate rainforests on Earth."

Watt's organization, the AFA, wants the logging industry in British Columbia to switch from clear-cutting old-growth forests to logging only in secondary forests with more sustainable regulations.

Article continues at Old Growth.

Gnarled tree by TJ Watts image via Mongabay and Utopia Photo
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