Whistler environmental group hosts old growth forest symposium 

AWARE speakers include scientists and researchers

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The Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment is hosting a symposium on Oct. 14-15 on old growth forests, culminating with a walk through Ancient Cedars in the Soo Valley.

On Sunday, Oct. 14 the event kicks off with a talk at Millennium Place from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on "What are old forests and why are they important?"

On Monday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., guest researchers and scientists will present "Forest Ecology 101" at Nicklaus North Golf Course, including scientists Andy MacKinnon, Len Lertzman, Curtis Bjork and Bob Brett. Peter Ackhurst from the Cheakamus Community Forest will also be on hand.

That afternoon participants will jump onto a bus for a trip from Nicklaus North to the Ancient Cedars area, with a tour of the grove running from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. There will be light snacks and drinks after the group returns at the Nicklaus North clubhouse.

The old growth forest debate has been active in Whistler recently with the municipality and First Nations working with foresters in the Cheakamus Community Forest. While the goal of the CCF is to regulate what wood is cut and where, the group does log old growth as part of it's annual timber harvesting because they claim there is not enough second growth forest in the 33,000 hectare forest area to meet provincially mandated quotas (roughly 40 hectares of harvesting per year). However, the CCF is working to keep logging operations sustainable and using methods like selective logging and helicopter logging to reduce the impact. The goal is to get Forest Stewardship Council certification for wood harvested locally.

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