AFA co-founder and photographer TJ Watt found the tree, which is over 5 metres wide near its base, and 46 metres tall. Though it has not yet been definitely dated, it is probably well over a thousand years old.
The tree has an unusual shape: the trunk widens higher up, rather than tapering, and eventually splits off into several spires, like a living castle.
According to the BC Big Tree Registry, the tree ranks as the sixth largest known red cedar in the country. “That it doesn’t rank at the top is in large part due to the limitations in how a tree’s overall score is calculated using a formula that factors in the diameter at breast height (1.37 meters from the ground), height, and average crown spread,” the AFA stated in a press release. “This method is fairly effective for depicting the size of trees that have a typical cone shape.”
This gentle giant “could very well have the largest or near largest wood volume of any tree in Canada for about the first 50 feet of its trunk – the part you see and experience from the ground (since humans don’t fly or swing through the canopies at the tops of trees),” reported the AFA. “This means that, experientially, it’s perhaps the most impressive tree in Canada, despite other cedars being taller or ranking higher based on the American Forestry Association points system.”
“After nearly two decades of photographing, exploring, and searching for big trees in old-growth forests across BC, no tree has blown me away more than this one,” said TJ Watt. “It’s a literal wall of wood. Your brain can’t compute the scale when you stand below it. The first time I arrived, from a distance I thought it had to be two trees because of how wide the trunk and limbs are. It defies words. As an avid big tree hunter, it’s a highlight of my life to find something as spectacular as this.”
“It’s a literal wall of wood. Your brain can’t compute the scale when you stand below it. The first time I arrived, from a distance I thought it had to be two trees because of how wide the trunk and limbs are. It defies words.”
The tree stands on Crown land in the unceded territory of the Ahousaht First Nation, who have asked to keep the location of the tree private for now. The Ahousaht’s Land Use Vision, currently in negotiation with the BC government, includes the protection of this forest. (The Vision calls for the protection of 80 per cent of Ahousaht territory through the creation of new Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), including most of the old-growth in their territory, to become Provincial Conservancies.)
“Old-growth forests with their monumental red cedar trees have been of great cultural importance for the Ahousaht Nation since time immemorial,” said Tyson Atleo, a Hereditary Representative of the Ahousaht Nation and the Natural Climate Solutions Program Director of Nature United. “A tree as large and ancient as this supports an incredible web of life both above and below ground while also storing huge amounts of carbon. Large, intact old-growth ecosystems are critical in combating the global biodiversity and climate crisis, and the Ahousaht Nation’s Land Use Vision will ensure they remain standing for generations to come.”
When visiting Ahousaht territory, visitors are encouraged to participate in their voluntary Stewardship Fee. Revenues from the Stewardship Fee directly fund the MHSS Stewardship Guardian Program which works on restoration, monitoring, infrastructure maintenance, and visitor engagement for the Ahousaht. Stewardship Fees can be paid online or at their office at 9-368 Main Street in Tofino.
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