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PLACES OF BC: Walbran Valley

June 30, 2016

 

By Kirsten Mathison

A few weekends ago, I went to the Walbran Valley on a quest to find caves in the extensive karst regions in the area. It is an unprotected tract of old-growth forest on southern Vancouver Island that is part of the only 4% remaining original low-elevation rainforest here. It is adjacent to the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, which was protected in the 1990’s due to significant pressure and protest from First Nations and environmentalists, and together this area represents one of the largest areas of uninterrupted old growth on the island. In 2015, the Teal-Jones group was granted approval for 8 cut blocks in the area, and now people are once again coming together to protect the area.

This unique and threatened ecosystem is teeming with biodiversity and unique species that will go extinct if the area is logged. It’s also a truly magical place; I felt it the minute I stepped onto the trail under the canopy of the towering trees that have stood here for up to 1,000 years. Sacrificing this natural cathedral for a few years of profit is nothing short of a tragedy, and I think it’s important for everyone to educate themselves and get involved. At the very least, try to take a trip up to the Walbran Valley to see for yourself what we are at risk of losing (and keep an eye open for caves along the way – the presence of caves helps provide additional protection from logging). There is a group of dedicated volunteers working to develop a trail and recreation system through the area so that more people can experience it, and it’s really cool! The hiking is breath-taking, the trees are truly awe-inspring, and there are so many pools and waterfalls in swim in along the way.

For more information about the Walbran Valley, the continuing efforts to protect it, and how to get involved:

https://friendsofcarmanahwalbran.com/
https://www.facebook.com/friendsofcarmanahwalbran/?fref=ts
https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/victoria/what_we_do/walbran_valley
http://www.desmog.ca/2016/01/26/islands-sky-how-chopping-ancient-forest-walbran-valley-would-spell-extinction-treetop-species

Photo from: https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/victoria/what_we_do/walbran_valley (by Shane Johnson)