my first became fascinated by ancient forests when I was living in Saskatoon Saskatchewan and as a ten-year-old and assigned a photo book a bunch of couples dancing on a cut-down giant cedar but I thought where he is still any trees like that still steady in 1999 I got hired by the Western Canada wilderness committee as their executive director for the Victoria chapter and so I ran the Western Canada wilderness committee in Victoria until 2010 after 2010 I moved on with my friend EJ to set up the ancient force lights primary reasons so that we can have a group that was specialized only on protecting old-growth forests and also ensuring sustainable forestry in the second growth force of the province being contracted as a photographer for the wilderness committee really opened up my eyes to a whole new world one bank over Island that I was unaware of before we would make trips into places like the upper wall bran Valley which is near the west coast trail karmana we were seeing trees that were as big as 16 feet in diameter but as well as that there are giant clear cuts too and I was blissfully unaware of either of these things before that and here I was it was my job to take photos of them right around the time that we formed the ancient forest alliance I did my first trip through the Gordon River Valley from late Cowichan to port renfrew just to see what old-growth forest might be there for the most part we are finding giant clear cuts as well as giant stumps instead of giant trees until the end just as we were getting close to port renfrew where I thought there probably be no hope of finding the growth and the low elevation being in the town was a logging town for nearly a century sure enough right alongside the the main road there the trees sort of skyrocketed up into the air and you can see the candelabra tops of giant Cedars and I had the curiosity to go down in the forest I thought there must be some big trees in here I ran in and there they were just these monsters beautiful monsters trees of fantastic shapes and sizes with alien shape girls on the side unlike really any other as I had seen before and we recognized right away that this area had the potential to really be sort of the cathedral grove of port renfrew it wasn't until I came back later with Kidd in February of 2010 that the forest had been flagged for logging just in that brief period of time I remember that evening going to set up a Facebook group to rally support to happy Area C and so what first came to mind for me was the Gordon River Valley growth because it's in the Gordon River Valley but I thought that's kind of verbose and not very catchy and certainly I'm not gonna call it tree farm license 46 growth so I thought you know why don't you call it that movie that Kimo avatar is awesome if I call it avatar Grove I think that it'll rally support an interest a lot more quickly than any other hand Laureen even I could get it so we called it the avatar growth and it worked our men throw hard in jeopardy stress and in the growth is also a tree with a huge burl coming out of the site and so I called it Canada's gnarliest tree somehow that tree was really propelling this remote forest into the spotlight even beyond British Columbia really the best way to get people to care for an area or speak up for it and call for its protection is if they can experience it firsthand so we were leading trips with 50 60 70 people out to this forest and and people were coming from far and wide to see it all the way through the the 2000s there was a huge gap in organization that could mobilize the public that was actually doing organizing of people on the ground taking them out doesn't actually see the place and that's what an ancient force Alliance does incredibly well nobody else is doing that we also had to build good relations with the town itself port renfrew being a town that has a large history in logging and resource development you know might not have the warmest reception to a group coming from the outside that wants to save trees TJ watt and Ken woo came into town and had just discovered some old-growth forest in town I kind of shook my head you know here we go again pretty skeptical we started created like a coffee venue where it was like um we've got coffee here's a check for his lands here's Ken here TJ ask those questions that you're asking behind their backs in a way that's kind of interesting who showed up and hit him – it was just a nice way to introduce them to the community gradually by explaining that we worked through anti-business and that we saw a future for port renfrew in basically victory tourism the idea started moving forward that hey protecting the Avatar growth might be a really good idea over the years we've seen tourists come into town from all over the world and it makes me wonder how do they know about avatar Grover the Red Creek for a number of our old trees that we have in town but it seems to work I know our cottage businesses double this year mostly Europeans and most of them coming out to see old trees subsequently we tried to stay creative in our naming I'm different forests and in general having a high level of creativity in our approaches so when we came across recently a big Douglas fir in a clear cut and turns out it's the second biggest toughest for on record in Canada we called it big lonely dunk and that seems tough caught as well right next to that area at the base of Edinburgh Mountain I thought you know what we need to put Christy Clark on the spot and in spotlight we should call this area the Christy Clark name and that's what we did we put at a press release and called it the Christy Clark Grove and what it does is it puts pressure on the province to have to take a stance to say this area or be responsible for not caring enough because they've let Christy Clark rolls getting at them so we also called the giant mossy maples the Fangorn forest after the Lord of the Rings or the Giants most tree features fight back against those who want to destroy them well I believe that campaigns are best by drawing attention in interesting and fun ways and if the goal is to create a broad-based large-scale movement that brings a lot of different kinds of people in we have to think about perspectives outside of our own heads outside of their own group I was invited to go down to a little speaking engagement and it really opened up my and all of the co-workers that went down with me really opened their eyes to the fact that environmentalists weren't necessarily the enemy he was saying way more good things we wanted to hear than we've ever heard from certainly from the government or anybody that seemed to be purporting to to help us if you're gonna operate in these communities on public lands on a pub with a public resource then you have an obligation to the public who owns that land to provide jobs to provide a good environment this is not it's not like you have an option to do that in my mind you have an obligation and that is where the government comes in to enforce that obligation I was fortunate enough to establish a relationship with with Ken from ancient forest Alliance we we quickly were able to find that we had many common interests you know perhaps for different reasons but common in terms of wanting to preserve areas of this land that were we're virtually disappearing so you have to just look at the mountains that surround us to see the impacts of privatization so what I learned soon after getting elected at 2005 is that this government the level government has removed significant amount of land from the public control of tree farm licenses right now the the land that we're concerned about on mcLaughlin Ruggiero this rainy morning this is part of violent timber lands at much of the rich area that we're talking about is actually it's on the headwaters of the water supply system for Port Alberni it should be noted that these trees as they're being harvested are going as raw logs they're not serving the workers in the elderly Valley any longer which seeing work shifts in the mills curtailed because they cannot get fiber while private managed forest land companies are taking these trees in areas they're not supposed to and exporting those raw logs British Columbia instituted a Forest Practices code in 1995 it only lasted for five years then it was put in the trash can by the Liberal government when they were elected they instituted professional reliance that's basically the fox guarding the chicken coop learning the companies decide how best to take care of our wildlife and our forests and the soils on the hillsides and it's disaster even british columbia's auditor general gave the province a failing grade one of the key things that people think is that old girl vlogging is no longer happening or if it's happening then it's a very rare thing that's simply not true Olga vlogging dominates huge parts of the coastal forest industry it's happening on a vast scale to the tune of thousands of hectares of endangered Olga forest being logged at every year secondly people think that you can replace the endangered old-growth forest with tree plantations that once you cut down the old-growth forests as long as you plant the trees then there's no longer an issue the plantations do not replicate the original or real forest there's a whole lot of old ghost species that can only live in Opeth force they're also more important for carbon for tourism for clean water and for many First Nations cultures and thirdly many people think that old-growth forests are actually not endangered because the government keeps on releasing statistics showing that there's actually lots of old-growth forests on the coast including in those statistics are vast areas the majority of unloggable marginal bonsai forests in the bogs where the trees are old but they're only 20 30 feet high or in the subalpine stunted snow forests in again areas that cannot be commercially harvested it's the moderate the high productivity lowland ancient forests the places with the big trees those classic giants that have been hugely hydrated and logged out of the landscape so there's a term called generational amnesia where basically one generation finds it hard to fathom or comprehend something that existed in the previous generation and I think that that rings true for old-growth forests across British Columbia where once vast forests covered much of the land here with towering trees there now sadly reduced to small pockets in scattered areas that are still worth protecting but one way that we can combat this amnesia so that we never forget the Magnificent forests that we have here today is through thorough photo and video documentation basically cataloging these areas GPS in these areas and shedding the light for the public on what old-growth forests remain with the fact that there aren't they the watchdogs anymore in the forest TJ is a godsend to be able up be out there with his camera and and and show people what's really going on a lot of occasions been doing it is indispensable for the building of an ancient force movement in order to get images of these incredible ancient forests but it requires that we spend a lot of time at first looking on maps and these days on Google Earth on which areas might have the last remnants of nation trees that you can explore then it takes going through very rugged terrain now in your vehicle on sometimes very sketchy roads to try to access these sites and then it takes going through sometimes very sketchy landscapes these are some of the most rugged landscapes in the world on the coastal Western forests like Hoover Island in order to locate these giant trees and comes out in many cases finding near-record sized ancient trees that then made the news whether it's physical evolution or whether it's social evolution there's a lot of pressure by a lot of people or there's something that's causing a lot of pressure from tectonic plates to the French Revolution to Arab Spring constant pressure seemingly no change for a long time and then all of a sudden that change happens my sense of optimism is feeling that we've got growing by organizations I featured force alliance helping people understand what the stakes are how they can get engaged that's the kind of constant pressure and eventually cause the big change that we want to see so imagine if that movement was expanded to include more people from the small business and tourism industries to include people from diverse faith backgrounds to include other cultural groups while we need the view is to understand where the public set different kinds of people are at a large scale and work to find common ground with that our agenda and shared agenda he really has the most amazing ancient temperate rainforest left on earth vast areas have been lost but many incredible and important places still remain that deserve protection this is why we need everyone's voice we need broad level support and people's unique contributions securing legislation to protect our last endangered ancient forests won't be easy but it can be done


  • Great video and I admire what you do. but who do you think is responsible for saving these monster trees besides yourselves? You are great at gathering awareness and marketing and I do admire the work you have done to preserve this sacred area.

  • I have a handful of sick people down here cutting down trees. The army of building pipeline comes near. Let's the mother of nature fight back, knocking them down in full force.

  • Beautiful, informative doc on the good work by Ken & TJ at AFA. Also a well-constructed overview of logging and forestry on Vancouver Island, and the decimation of the old-growth forest.

  • Just want to thank you for your work. I've taken my kids through Avatar Grove and of all the beaches up the coast and adventures we've had that was by far their favourite place!

  • Shared. Great video and great work Ken and TJ. Please let us know how the Salish Sea Marine Sanctuary & Coastal Trail movement can be helpful to your efforts and objectives. We would like to help you help permanently save the remaining Ancient Trees and Old Growth Forests of Vancouver Island and Beyond.

  • Thank You to T.J. Watt and Ken Wu for starting the Ancient Forest Alliance. You and your group have been so inspiring to so many who wish to see Old Growth Forests remain. They sustain climate, clean rivers, wild salmon and habitat of many species, some of which are endangered. Great Work! Beautiful Video! I am saving to have my family's name on one of the boardwalks and visiting and Old Growth Forest in B.C. is on my bucket list.

  • You do a great service to humanity by documenting these things.  I support you in every way.  Still planning a GigaPan expedition to the Port Renfrew area.

  • If it weren't for people and organizations such as The Ancient Forest Alliance, we wouldn't have any old growth left at all.
    Thanks guys.

  • As a first nations person, im happy to see the effort. but with all due respect im done with this place. i wish to move away and live somewhere ells. nothing but death for me here. 

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