Big Lonely Doug won’t be so lonely anymore.
The Coastal Douglas-fir is among 54 of the province’s largest and oldest trees to be protected by the province along with a one-hectare buffer zone surrounding each of the giants, says Forest Minister Doug Donaldson.
Big Lonely Doug is the second largest Douglas-fir in Canada. The tree, located near Port Renfrew, stands at 70.2 metres, or 230 feet.
Two other trees in the Port Renfrew region – Sitka spruce – are also protected.
The trees are on the University of B.C.’s Big Tree Registry that has identified 347 of the largest of each species in the province.
The 54 trees were at risk of being harvested.
The trees are in more than two dozen locations, including central B.C., the East Kootenays, Haida Gwaii, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley.
The species include arbutus, coastal Douglas-fir, Pacific yew, ponderosa pine, Sitka spruce, western red cedar and western white pine.
Donaldson says the announcement is also the start of a broader conversation about the future of old-growth management in the province.
The government says starting this fall, an independent two-person panel will meet with First Nations, industry and communities on how to manage old growth in the province.
Local environmental groups welcomed the decision to protect the 54 trees, but say much more needs to be done.
“It’s a small step, but it may signal there’s more comprehensive action to come,” said Andrea Inness, forest campaigner for the Ancient Forest Alliance.
“A more comprehensive, legislated plan is still desperately needed to protect the province’s old-growth ecosystems on a larger scale in order to sustain biodiversity, clean water, and the climate.”
Ken Wu, the executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance, says the government announcement protects the most charismatic fraction of B.C.’s endangered old-growth forests, but at the same time thousands of others remain endangered, including their ecosystems.
“The fact that the B.C. government says that they plan more comprehensive big tree protections and also old-growth forest ecosystem protections gives us some hope – but let’s see where they go with it,” Wu said.