This is how old growth forest is being managed for biodiversity on Quadra Island, which is a Special Management Zone under the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan in which conservation of biodiversity is considered a higher objective than timber extraction. (Photo by David Broadland)
A large portion of TFL 47 and all of the 10 woodlot licences on Quadra Island are within Special Management Zone 19. This is a provision of the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan, which took most of the 1990s to create. The plan was intended to end the conflict between the logging industry and the public over the extent of logging on Vancouver Island. About 16,000 hectares of Quadra Island, because of its high non-timber values, was given Special Management Zone status.
One of the provisions of SMZ 19 was that remaining old forest would be protected. Since Quadra Island had been heavily logged in the early twentieth century and then badly burned in 1925, what old forest remained had experienced regrowth of western hemlock and Douglas fir in between the old veterans. Amongst the strategies indicated by the VILUP to conserve biodiversity in SMZ 19 was this: “maintain existing old forest in the zone, as well as second growth with high portion of veteran trees…”
This is exactly the kind of forest that was logged in this location.
Old trees have been left standing while everything between them has been cut. Since the main objective in leaving old forest intact is to protect biodiversity, the practice of taking everything except the biggest, oldest trees is clearly not meeting the objective of protecting biodiversity.
Old-growth forests on the Discovery Islands are always a mix of different tree species of different ages. The younger trees are not plantation regrowth, or “second growth.” They are an essential component of an old-growth forest, which is a dynamic process that can go on for thousands of years. On Quadra Island, like elsewhere, the plants and animals that live in these forests are not found in plantations created by humans following clearcutting: The Northern Goshawk, the Marbelled Murrelet, the Northern Red-legged Frog, the Northern Pygmy Owl, the Wandering Salamander, and so on. They all need a complete old-growth forest to survive, not just the big, old trees.