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Thuja plicata

Thuja plicata

Though I'm responsible for the photograph of these old-growth western red-cedars, the image wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of the many people involved in preserving this area. Large individuals of Thuja plicata are (or were) common along the coastal rainforests of western North America, but the exceptional trees in today's image occur in a special environment: the inland wet-temperate rainforest of British Columbia.

Knowing that my route to Jasper National Park from Prince George would pass this particular site, my hosts in Prince George assertively suggested I visit the Ancient Forest Trail. I was not disappointed! This area is part of the only temperate rainforest in the world found at a distance of 400-600km (250-375 miles) from the nearest ocean -- and the only rainforest in the world with a majority of its precipitation from snow (perhaps it is a snowforest?). Despite hot, dry summers and long winters, the western red-cedars of this region have been able to attain significant size due to a high subsurface water table and protection from fire. The groundwater constantly flows throughout the dry summer by the melting snow pack from nearby high mountain slopes.

High humidity from near-surface water and an enclosed canopy contribute to extensive lichen diversity. In the Incomappleux River Valley (about 400km to the southeast), another section of the inland wet-temperate rainforest yielded nine species of lichen new to science, three not previously known in North America and an additional three not previously known from British Columbia. Lichenologist Toby Spribille proclaimed: "This is by far the longest list of lichen diversity ever published in western North America for an area of comparable size...Such levels of lichen diversity and rates of discovery of new species are basically unparalleled in northern conifer forests -- even in coastal temperate rainforest" (quoted from The Incomappleux Discoveries (PDF) in Menziesia, the Native Plant Society of BC's newsletter, October 2007, Volume 12(3)).

Unfortunately, these highly biodiverse and scientifically-intriguing forests remain under threat: as an example from one region, of the 9482 ha (23 430 acres) identified very-old wet forests of the Upper Fraser River landscape (including the area featured by today's image), only 356 ha (880 acres) are protected within provincial parks.

For additional photographs from this trail, see Ancient Forest Trail Pics.

8 Comments

The inland rainforests of BC are certainly magnificent places. And these specific locations you mention are also the habitat for equally (actually, even more so) endangered ecotype mountain caribou. They need the lichens for survival for up to 8 months of the year. The reason there are so few mountain caribou is because the old forests that have the volume of lichens needed to sustain them along with the high depth of snow that enables the caribou to feed off the lichens (aside from the ones that fall to the ground) are rapidly disappearing. Nature is wonderful... people? Well, the jury is still out on us, I guess.
Thanks, Daniel, for this picture and your words that accompany it.
Maggie

I keep on travelling to different places around the world (when I can afford it!). My friends say "you must have been everywhere by now": but the North American continent is still Terra incognita to me - and how you tempt me! Such magnificence ...


Reminds me of some pictures you posted years ago from the mid 1800's, the felling of the great old growth redwoods, with men standing on slats with 20' saws. Lets not let that happen again.

Having been raised in the heart of the Laurentian forest, I was in awe when I first visited the BC coastal forest. It was very humbling. To me the way we manage our forests all across Canada makes no sense and is a terrible mistake. Its heart wrenching to see how little reverence we have for such habitats. I don't know if it’s the impression that we have unlimited space and resources that make us choose such policies but I truly hope we change our mentality fast.

A very painterly light in this beautiful picture.

There's an amazing stand of old growth cedar on Long Island (a refuge) in Willapa Bay on the Washington coast, if you're ever in the area. Magical!

Several years ago, we found a stand of large cedar in the wetter areas of a dry-belt Douglas-fir stand between Merritt and Spences Bridge. It was entirely unexpected and beautiful. I am not sure how it would be classified as both rain and snow are very limiting in the near-desert climate there.

fine fine photo of the day thank you

i did a google search to see if my grandparents home still stood in indiana
it did -but not the trees lineing the streets- a corner crafts mans house
the fine old trees are gone and the blackbirds and the fruit trees
along the alley ways and across the street or the big old stone school house

i hope the forest can be saved

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