April 27, 2016
Northern Development has approved a $27,540 grant to support a UNBC biodiversity assessment.
The Ancient Forest will be the subject of biodiversity research this summer that will help protect the area and support its development as a significant tourist attraction, thanks to support from Northern Development Initiative Trust. At its April meeting, the Trust’s board of directors approved a $27,540 grant for the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) to conduct a detailed assessment of the biodiversity within the proposed Ancient Forest park area.
The research is an important first step in nominating the Ancient Forest as a UNESCO World Heritage site, which, if achieved, would boost the area’s reputation as a premier tourist destination that supports local economic diversification. The Ancient Forest is located 120 kilometres east of Prince George and is part of the only known inland temperate rainforest in the world. In 2015, more than 20,000 visitors used its existing three kilometres of walking trails, which were built and are maintained by the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Society. In March, Premier Christy Clark announced its intent to protect the area as B.C.’s newest Class A provincial park, renaming it the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Wudujut (pronounced Chun Toe Wood-yu-jud) Park. The park designation ensures the area’s unique habitat will be excluded from timber harvesting and other commercial activity.
The primary objective of the project, which is a partnership between the Trust, UNBC and B.C. Parks, is to assess the biodiversity of vascular and non-vascular plants in the Ancient Forest. Preliminary sampling by UNBC’s plant ecology laboratory suggests the Ancient Forest area contains many rare plant species, including some that, significantly, are likely new species for science. The research is expected to take a year to complete beginning this summer.
“The Ancient Forest is a truly unique and world-class attraction that, only now, is beginning to become more widely known. This innovative partnership will fund science that will be used to help transform the Ancient Forest into a protected, premier tourist attraction, supporting economic development in our region.” says Evan Saugstad, Board Chair, Northern Development
“This funding is critically important as it allows us to begin biodiversity assessments in the ancient cedar stands. The information collected will be a critical part of future nomination for World Heritage Site status for the Ancient Forest.” says Darwyn Coxson, Professor, College of Ecosystem Science and Management, UNBC
“Any day we get to see more work being done to protect this unique ecosystem is a good day,” said Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George-Valemount. “I’m thankful that the Northern Development Initiative Trust has come alongside the dedicated volunteers and community members that are working to ensure this historical natural wonder will be enjoyed by visitors from throughout B.C. and around the world for years to come.”
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
University of Northern British Columbia