Ancient Cedars

Community and Economic Benefits of the Inland Rainforest of the Upper Fraser River Valley
The ancient cedars in British Columbia’s upper Fraser River watershed are now protected better. The Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park was enacted as a Class A park on May 19, 2016.  In the Lheidli T’enneh language, chun t’oh whudujut means “oldest trees.”  The area of the park is 11,190 ha, with an additional 685 ha of protected areas for a total of 11,875 hectares.  Read more in the 2016 Research Bulletin below.
Research bulletins
Journal articles
  • Connell, D. J., J. Hall, and J. Shultis (2016).  “Ecotourism and forestry:  A study of tension in a peripheral region of British Columbia, Canada.  Journal of Ecotourism. 1-21.  DOI:  10.1080/14724049.2016.1255221
  • Connell, D. J., Jessica Shapiro, and Loraine Lavallee (2015).  Held Forest Values of the Ancient Cedars of British Columbia.  Society and Natural Resources: An International Journal, 28(12): 1,323-1,339. DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2015.1041660
  • Coxson, D. S., T. Goward, and D. J. Connell (2012). “Analysis of Ancient Western Redcedar Stands in the Upper Fraser River Watershed and Scenarios for Protection.”  Journal of Ecosystems and Management 13(3):1–20.
Graduate theses
  • Forest Values Surrounding Ancient Cedar Stands in British Columbia's Inland Temperate Rainforest
Jessica N. Shapiro, Master of Arts, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (2012)
ABSTRACT  The Inland Temperate Rainforest (ITR) of British Columbia is a globally unique ecosystem containing areas of high biodiversity, including ancient cedar stands in the upper Fraser River valley. The forest is located in a region historically focused on the economic values of timber. Increased research about and recreational use of the forest, however, has demonstrated a wider array of forest values that is yet to be fully documented. The purpose of this research is to document the breadth of forest values surrounding the ancient cedar stands to gain a better understanding of the significance of this globally unique forest. Through content analysis, as well as surveys conducted in two communities in the ITR, data were collected from trail users, the public, and local residents. Results reveal a broad set of forest values that inform the ongoing debate currently surrounding the best and highest use of the ancient cedar stands.

  • Assessing the Economic Benefits of Ancient Forest Trail Ecotourism in McBride, British Columbia
John Hall, Master of Arts, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (2013)

ABSTRACT  McBride, British Columbia, has long relied on forestry as the primary sector of its economy. With shrinking employment, timber demand and supply, community members are now pursuing opportunities for economic diversification. Tourism has been identified as one of three initiatives aimed at improving local economic stability and diversification. An emerging element in the region’s ecotourism potential is the Ancient Forest Trail (AFT). The purpose of this research is to assess the AFT’s potential economic benefit as a tourist attraction and contributor to economic diversification. First, the number of AFT tourists and their economic benefit is calculated using a trail counter and questionnaires. Second, AFT ecotourism is examined in the context of local economic diversification, using economic analyses to describe the structure and dynamics of the local economy and key informant interviews to access community knowledge. Results describe a local economy in transition, an emerging ecotourism attraction with a positive economic benefit, and a community disagreement regarding tourism as an economic priority.

Background information
In September, 2007, Dr. David J. Connell launched a study to explore possible answers to the matter of whether or not we should be harvesting cedars from the inland rainforest of the upper Fraser River valley.  The purpose of the study is to examine the community and economic benefits of non-timber uses of this inland wet-temperate rainforest.  In other words, the project is trying to assess the value of not cutting down thousand-year-old cedar trees to compare to the value of harvesting these trees.  The inland rainforest is home to a unique forest ecosystem that combines attributes of BC’s coastal rainforests and Canada’s northern boreal forests.  The magnificence of this ancient forest rivals that of the well-known coastal rainforests of BC, yet has not received the same level or kind of attention.  One of the reasons for the lack of attention on this inland rainforest is its low timber value.  In contrast with the high timber-value forests of Clayoquot Sound for example, the low timber-value of the hollow cedars of the upper Fraser River valley, some of which are estimated to be over one thousand years old, and perhaps two thousand years old, does not garner the same attention from industry, government, or the general public.  The outcome is lower potential for conflict among alternative uses of the rainforest. 
Block482 SlashHowever, as the few remaining stands of ancient cedars come under increasing pressure of harvesting and the demand for other uses increases, the need to ask more questions about competing values increases.  This potential for conflict stands in sharp contrast with the limited knowledge of the rainforest’s economic potential and conservation values.  Its remote location, limited access, and low timber value leave the thousand year-old cedars not only under-appreciated, but also relatively unknown.
AFT trees
This study of the economic and community benefits of non-timber uses helps advance practices for the use and conservation of the inland rainforest that enhance the social, economic and environmental well-being of northern communities in BC.  The research will advance long-term planning and land development management of the area and will assist people to respond positively to change and growth related to competing interests.

With funding from the Future Forest Ecosystems Scientific Council (FFESC) the project completed another phase of research.  The social and biological values associated with the inland rainforest was examined in the context of possible effects of climate change.  Our examination focussed on assessments in three major areas: (a) perceived values of future non-timber uses of the ITR; (b) perceptions of vulnerability of non-timber uses under different climate change scenarios; and (c) opportunities for adaptation. 

The following websites provide additional resources related to the inland rainforest of the upper Fraser River valley.

For more information contact
David J. Connell, PhD
Associate Professor