Douglas Fir Fanatics

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - By: Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

Ancient stands of old-growth Douglas Fir trees are among the most renowned icons of British Columbia’s West Coast. For centuries, these huge trees have been the backbone of BC’s logging industry, but today, over 85% of Vancouver Island’s original ancient forests have been slashed down and turned into lumber, or disposable paper and wood products. Narrowing the scope to coastal Douglas firs in particular, only about one percent of these majestic giants remain standing. As Peter Raven wrote in a forward to the book Ancient Forests of the Pacific Northwest, “By treating 500 to 1,000-year-old forests as if they were a renewable resource...we are making a grave mistake”.

So naturally, when Ms Laura Richardson, the Brentwood Environmental Action Team (BEAT) staff sponsor heard about the opportunity to get involved in a douglas fir seedling planting project, she jumped at the opportunity. “As teacher sponsor of the BEAT, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to engage our community, and specifically youth, about environmental action”, she remarked.

The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) is a UNESCO designated site for sustainability that spans from Nanoose Bay to Qualicum Bay, BC. In the words of Mandy Hobkirk, Coordinator of the MABR Youth Program, the MABR “Works to promote the conservation of biological and cultural diversity in addition to economic and social development”. Their Youth Program is designed to “educate students within the region on environmental, cultural, social, and economic sustainability”, and with the COVID-19 crisis preventing the progression of their usual workshops in schools, they started brainstorming alternate ways of getting youth involved in these important issues from home. With a generous donation of Douglas fir seedlings from Mosaic Forest Management, the MABR launched a project to teach youth how to plant and care for a Douglas fir seedling, complete with a guide and fir seedlings to get them started.

Brentwood Head of Rowing Laryssa Biesenthal reported that “my girls LOVED this opportunity to plant baby trees!” I encourage everybody who is able to take this opportunity to invest in one of BC’s most precious resources, and get your hands dirty while planting some Douglas fir seedlings!

Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

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