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article imageGreen Thumbs Up: Saving thousand year old cedar trees in B.C.

By Karen Graham     Mar 16, 2016 in Environment
British Columbia's government announced on Tuesday the creation of a new provincial park, known as the Ancient Forest park or Chun T’oh Wudujut, as it is called in the local Lheidli language.
Global News reports the park is located about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Prince George near the community of Dome Creek, and it has a geographical area of 112 square kilometers (42.3 square miles), slightly smaller than the city of Vancouver.
The park is part of a much larger area known as an inland temperate rainforest (ITR) that covers 16.2 million hectares (40 million acres) and stretches in a broad arc from central Idaho in the U.S. to Prince George. It's one of the very few remaining ITR left in the world, and a treasure to be protected.
A map showing the areas where temperate rain forests can be found throughout the world. The Ancient ...
A map showing the areas where temperate rain forests can be found throughout the world. The Ancient Forest is an extension of one of the very few inland temperate rainforests left in the world.
Karl Udo
"It's an unknown world on our doorstep," Darwyn Coxson, a University of Northern B.C. ecosystems science professor who has been conducting research in the ancient forest for years, told CBC News Canada. Some of the older cedar trees are 16 meters (52 feet) in circumference.
The logging threat
Located just off Highway 16, the forest had been under the care of volunteers from the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Society. These dedicated people not only spent thousands of hours building and maintaining trails in the park but also built a wheelchair assessable boardwalk. Last year, through the group's efforts, over 20,000 people were able to stroll through the forest, enjoying its beauty.
Phaeocollybia piceae? 20090927.83 Canada  BC  Incomappleux Inland Rainforest in british Columbia.
Phaeocollybia piceae? 20090927.83 Canada, BC, Incomappleux Inland Rainforest in british Columbia.
Jason Hollinger
The forest has been under threat from logging, despite its natural beauty and unique ecosystems. Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond said the government negotiated with logging companies in helping to set the boundaries for the park, along with the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Society.
The VanCity Buzz is reporting that B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak, in a statement, said: “The proposed establishment of this park — home to some of the largest old-growth cedar trees in the province — reflects the uniqueness of B.C.’s world-renowned park system. This spectacular setting will now be preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy.”
Temperate rainforest in Wells Gray Provincial Park  British Columbia  Canada.
Temperate rainforest in Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.
What makes the inland temperate rainforest so special?
B.C.'s inland temperate rainforest is special because of the weather systems that helped to create it. In the first place, the forest is unique because it is so far from the ocean. On the windward side of the Rocky mountains, weather systems coming in from the Pacific Ocean collide with the Columbia Mountains, and in the process create the forest's unique environment and ecosystems.
High humidity, heavy rainfall, and deep winter snows help in creating lush green valleys full of stands of red cedar and western hemlocks, with some of the "Legacy" trees being over 1,000 years old. They are often found at lower elevations, giving shade to a diverse variety of shrubs, herbs, ferns, mosses and lichens.
The ITR is home to two of the largest and most important watersheds in North America and the world, the mighty Columbia, and Fraser Rivers. The forest has provided food and shelter for First Nations peoples and is a source of abundant fish and wildlife as well as clean drinking water for a number of communities.
Caribou bones found in the Bluefih Caves have evidence of butchering made with stone tools.
Caribou bones found in the Bluefih Caves have evidence of butchering made with stone tools.
Government of Canada/M. Bradley
The forest's ecosystem supports hundreds of species of flora and fauna, some of them not found in other parts of North America. Some of the many species include invertebrates, plants, and lichens, as well as numerous larger animals, including moose, elk, wolves, wolverine, marten, fisher, lynx, bats, and mountain goats.
The forest's glacial streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands also support a variety of fish, amphibians and other aquatic creatures, including the threatened bull trout and land-locked kokanee salmon. The forest is also home to an animal found nowhere else in the world, the endangered mountain caribou.
"We have to find the balance between growing the economy and protecting and preserving," said Bond. " We feel very comfortable this will protect both the experience [of the ancient forest] and the park itself." Digital Journal gives B.C. a big Green Thumbs Up for this effort.
Green Thumbs Up is a weekly feature focusing on the environment and how we can live more eco-friendly lives. Last week we talked about whether the European Union would vote to extend the licensing of glyphosate for an additional 15 years. As always, we welcome your comments and opinions on our featured stories.
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