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A walk among giants; Wildsight to lead walk through old-growth forest

Creston locals have an opportunity to walk through and learn about an old-growth forest near the valley this weekend.

On Saturday, June 10, those registered will be led through a cedar hemlock forest by Wildsight conservation specialist Eddie Petryshen.

The event is in the Ka-Papa Cedars trail towards the Kootenay Pass. The old-growth forest loop is about three kilometres.

Petryshen says it’s an opportunity to witness an incredible community of biological diversity.

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“We’re watching things disappear on the landscape, so we’re going to experience these beautiful, magical forests and talk about what makes them so special and why we have to protect them.”

An old-growth forest is defined as a forest with trees older than 140 and 150 years in dry systems or 250 in wet systems.

However, Petryshen says an old-growth forest is more than just the trees.

“There’s a structural complexity that comes with age. You get high amounts of down wood that is really critical to forests having nutrients and reproducing. You get snags, standing dead trees. And you get structural elements of complexity where multiple species, multiple tree species, can thrive.”

“It’s kind of a community of trees, plants, fungi, and animals. Living and breathing things. That’s what an old-growth forest is. It’s about complexity.”

And Petryshen says that complexity is what is missing when logging is done.

“So often when we do forestry in this province, we reduce things down. We simplify and we densify forests. And you get these areas where you have one or two or three species that are all the same age. In a lot of our systems, that’s not how nature works.”

He says the more we can replicate how nature works, the better aligned we are with the system and the better set up we are for the future.

“I think we have this paradigm in BC where we have looked at these old-growth forests as something we have to extract from. And I think that is shifting, people are starting to view old-growth for its biological value, for being world-class forests that are often worth more standing than they are cut. Because once we lose them, we lose them forever and they are irreplaceable.”

Petryshen says if more productive old-growth is treated like expendable resources, the impact could be felt on an economic scale as well.

“The annual cut and the rate of harvest that we see in this province is very unsustainable. The deeper we dig that hole, the harder it is to get out and the more we impact communities.”

“The more we can do to transition and build a new future where old-growth trees and forests are left standing, the better we can build a restoration-based economy as well as support a thriving logging industry into the future. It just has to have different parameters.”

Those interested in signing up for the walk can do so by visiting the Wildsite website.

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