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Get a bird’s-eye view from one of Vancouver Island’s tallest trees

Click to play video: 'Ancient tree discovered on Vancouver Island'
Ancient tree discovered on Vancouver Island
It is being described as one of the most significant big tree finds in years. And we are now getting our first look at the giant Sitka spruce that's been living in Vancouver Island's Carmanah Valley for possibly a thousand years or more. – May 9, 2024

It’s being described as one of the most significant big tree finds in B.C. in years.

A group of conservationists recently had the opportunity to scale a massive 71-metre (223-foot) tall Sitka Spruce discovered in the Carmanah Valley on southwestern Vancouver Island. The massive tree is nearly four metres (13 feet) wide at its base.

“We just knew the only way to convey the true grandeur of this tree was to climb it and get right up there in the top,” TJ Watt, a campaigner and photographer with the Ancient Forest Alliance told Global News.

“Only when you see a human beside a tree for scale can you truly grasp just how monumental these trees are; they are some of the largest living organisms on planet Earth.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. forest plan draft hailed by conservationists'
B.C. forest plan draft hailed by conservationists

Watt has spent the last 15 years bushwhacking through B.C. forests to find and document the province’s giants.

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His mission is to use photography and social media to inspire people and try to share just how special the rare, old-growth trees are.

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Using a giant slingshot to hurl a rope into the tree’s upper limbs, Watt and a team of professional climbers made their way into the canopy in the fall of 2022.

Watt said the unique ecosystems that exist in giant tree canopies are still not well understood.

“The giant limbs of these trees which can be as big as a regular-sized tree are adorned with ferns, and lichens and mosses,” he said.

“These are truly hidden realms that deserve more research, more investigation and more investigation to ensure they are preserved in perpetuity.”

Click to play video: 'Environmental group claims ‘data errors’ putting old growth at risk'
Environmental group claims ‘data errors’ putting old growth at risk

The giant Sitka is among what Watt says represents a fraction of remaining ancient coastal forests, 90 per cent of which have been harvested since industrial logging began.

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While this tree is in the protected Carmanah Valley, much of the population of big trees remaining on Vancouver Island is not.

“The old-growth temperate rainforests of British Columbia are almost second to none on earth in terms of their beauty and grandeur,” he said.

“But unfortunately many of them are still at risk today.”

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