Two big-tree hunters have found a monster western red cedar in a North Vancouver valley.
The 1,000-year-old behemoth wasn't found completely by chance, though.
Two big-tree hunters, one of them a researcher with the Victoria-based nonprofit old-growth group Ancient Forest Alliance (ARA), found the record tree recently in a remote corner of Lynn Headwaters Regional Park on the North Shore.
In a June 24 ARA release, researcher Ian Thomas said the remnant tract of old-growth trees that he discovered along with Vancouver big-tree hunter Colin Spratt is fortunately situated. “Finding this colossal ancient tree just demonstrates the sublime grandeur of these old-growth temperate rainforests,” Thomas said. “Luckily this incredible being and the impressive grove in which it stands is safe in a park.
"Most of our richest ancient forests are still unprotected and in danger of being logged," Thomas continued. "Even now in Canada, in the year 2022, trees as old as this giant, and entire groves like this one, are still being cut down on an industrial scale.”
The red cedar, nicknamed the North Shore Giant, measures 5.8 metres in diameter (19.1 feet) and 18.3 metres in circumferance (60 feet). The release said that this "preliminary" diameter measurement tentatively qualifies the tree as the widest found in Canada in 34 years.
The ARA release noted that the Lynn Valley area, known for its tall trees, experienced extensive old-growth logging in the 19th and early 20th centuries but groves of various old-growth species escaped harvest because they were inaccessible.
"The terrain is extremely rugged, with sheer cliffs, treacherous boulder fields, steep ravines, and dense underbrush, which has allowed these monumental trees to remain hidden for so long," the bulletin said. It added that the North Shore Giant itself is growing out of slopes west of Lynn Creek amid a boulder field with other red cedars, also noting that a nearby ancient western hemlock is the country's fifth-widest of its species.
The big-tree hunters said in the release that they found the North Shore Giant on their second expedition into the park, after hiking in for 10 hours.
"When I first saw the tree, I froze in my tracks and the blood drained from my face," Spratt said. "I started getting dizzy as I realized it was one of the largest cedars ever found, and one of the most amazing life forms left on earth.
"Finding this tree is an incredible reminder of what is still out there in the less explored old-growth forests," Spratt said. "It’s sobering to realize that in so many areas of BC, unprotected trees and groves just as rare and precious are still being cut down."
The ARA release said that members of the British Columbia Big Tree Committee will visit the Giant to confirm the measurements for inclusion of the tree in the B.C. Big Tree Registry.