Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia – The complete clear-cut

Instead of going to Duncan on the direct way we ride around via Sooke, Port Renfrew and Cowichan Lake. The badly paved road is partially quite narrow with single-lane bridges and hairpin bends, but at least some parts are renovated. It leads through spots of mixed woodland with huge trees that came into being long ago. But in most areas the forest looks completely different. Conifer monocultures of different ages shape the appearance. Always signs proudly inform when reforestation took part. But how! It’s not the same. The afforested woos have nothing, really nothing to do with the original vegetation of the rain forest.

Few people know that there are tempered rainforests outside the tropics. But unfortunately they are endangered just as much as the tropical forests. More than 50 % of Canada’s rainforest stand on Vancouver Island, at the coasts and in the inner British Columbia is already cleared and the mighty logging companies do their best to further decimate the primeval forests. But BC’s labour market, its exports and with it the earnings depend for a big part on the logging industry, although declining. That’s why the concerns receive generous rights for cutting down and discretionary. Environmentalists have a hard life to get the better of monetary interests. Government and general public as well ignored the problematic nature until few years ago, but slowly politics makes concessions in preservation of some rain forests. During today’s trip we get to see much more devasting crimes against the environment. Nearly nobody on Vancouver Island takes the effort to thin out the forests responsibly and reforest them. Clear cuts are the cheapest and most effective method for logging companies. Kilometres long mountain slopes felt victim to total clearance. For the major part it wasn’t even reforested, what causes dramatic ecologic consequences: erosion of the earth’s surface, loss of nutritive substances, and frequent landslides. In some areas grass seed was dropped from the air to vegetate the hills. In consequence deer multiply disproportionately and become a nuisance, but forest animals like cougars find less and less habitats.

BC means, is said jocularly, “bring cash”. I guess there is some truth in it. We go to Botanical Beach close to Port Renfrew to rummage in the rockpools. Parking is 3 $. At San Juan Bay beach we shall pay 10 $ for day use and 25 $ for overnight – without service, of course. Further at Cowichan Lake we circumnavigate the lake. The three here active logging companies set up quite a few Forestry Service Campgrounds that were placed in tiny pieces of rain forest. Despite the beautiful surroundings they do not always appear well-groomed and tidy. But they ask for 17.50 to 22.50 $ per night. Just to remember: We are not in Banff or Jasper National Park, we are in the middle of nowhere at a gravel logging road with no infrastructure at all. That’s a tidy sum. Anyway, we find the only parking space at the lake where no sign “private”, “forbidden”, or “not allowed” is, and where no gate or chain is, and park for the night.

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