As a conservation group based in Prince George, we are concerned that B.C.'s "Big Tree Policy'" is a cynical calculation to avoid the protection of old growth at a scale that is necessary to avoid ecological collapse. Protecting individual trees does little to protect the values that exist in our interior old growth forests. A few big trees do not a forest make.
In our backyard, the boreal rainforest contains slow-growing 400-plus year-old spruce that are currently being razed under the pretext of beetle salvage. The Big Tree Policy does nothing to protect them from the juggernaut of industrial forestry.
The plantations that replace these forests will not support our iconic mountain caribou, lichens, bull trout, or the myriad other species that are reliant on old growth.
The one-hectare buffer zone around each of the 54 big trees will protect a patchwork of fragmented areas subject to "edge effects," a phenomenon that divides natural, functioning ecosystems into unnatural and non-functioning ones.
Contrary to government claims, 55 per cent of old growth forests are not protected. Here in north-central BC, most of the remaining intact inland and boreal rainforest exists within timber licences, not in protected areas.
The Big Tree Policy will make people feel good and it might bring in some tourists. Meanwhile we are losing the awe-inspiring beauty and function of intact forests. B.C. needs a system of legally protected, connected and large reserves for old growth forests, not a policy for 54 individual trees.