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  • Darkwater Forest

    David Broadland

    One of Quadra Island’s largest areas of old forest lies less than a kilometre southwest of Darkwater Lake. Logging company Fletcher Challenge cut a large block east of the forest in 1986. The western side of the forest runs down a steep slope toward Discovery Passage, and the forest on much of that slope has been previously hand-logged. The approximate area of remaining primary forest is shown outlined in green in the illustration immediately below.




    The forest is entirely within Woodlot 2032, which is operated by Younger Brothers Holdings. The company’s Woodlot Plan shows only a small portion of the old forest would not be subject to logging. But two areas of the forest where Younger Brothers stipulated no logging would take place now have had logging roads built through them. The areas outlined in green below were to be areas where logging “would be avoided.”




    As of October 2022, the company had flagged an area of the old forest east of its main logging road, apparently in preparation for logging the old forest there.

    Landscape-level planning for Quadra Island has never been completed (and possibly never started), and as a result no old-growth management areas (OGMAs) have been created. Without such planning, a coordinated, island-wide consideration of where old-growth forest still exists, and how much of it there is, has never been undertaken by the Ministry of Forests.

    This has left rare old-growth forests on Quadra Island—such as Darkwater Forest—at risk of being logged. Instead, “planning” is taking place woodlot by woodlot, rather than at the landscape level. Landscape-level planning would have required that at least 9 percent of the Crown forest land base on Quadra Island be designated as OGMAs. Such planning should have established legal OGMAs in areas where there actually was old forest.

    But under provincial regulations, woodlots are required to identify 8 percent of a woodlot’s area as “Wildlife Tree Patches” whether the areas they designate as old forest are old forest or not. Woodlot 2032 has significant areas of old-growth forest—greater than 8 percent of the total area of the tenure—while most other forest tenures and the provincial parks on Quadra (in which non-legal OGMAs can be designated) have little or none.

    By this project’s current reckoning, to meet even the artificially-low minimum level of old forest required for biodiversity conservation (>9 percent)—as stipulated by provincial guidelines—no old forest on Quadra Island should be logged.



    Darkwater Forest contains primary forest including large old trees.



    The primary old forest is within Woodlot 2032. The woodlot operator, Younger Brothers Holdings, has built logging roads through the forest, including in areas that Younger Brothers’ Woodlot Plan had indicated logging would not occur.



    The area of primary old forest is located southwest of Darkwater Lake.


    Below, several views of Darkwater Forest. The forest is located on a rocky, west-facing slope. Earlier logging in the area avoided the steep, rocky area, the only reason this forest is still here. Yet Younger Brothers Woodlot Plan includes this as an area where logging will take place, and an area at the north end of the forest has been flagged for cutting in 2022. The density of old-growth Douglas firs is as high as any of the remaining old forest on Quadra Island. They range in size up to about 15-feet in circumference at breast height.
















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  • The map below is TimberWests account of forest by age class on Quadra Island. It doesnt indicate all of the old forest that has been confirmed by the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project, but most of the areas shown in brown are areas of old forest (>250 years).

  •   Return to the Discovery Islands primary forest survey page  

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