Making the Case for the Ancient Forest to be a World Heritage Site
Video of Ancient Forest, courtesy Tourism Prince George
Prince George, B.C.- The door has been opened to have the Ancient Forest, off Highway 16 east of Prince George, considered for addition to Canada’s tentative list for World Heritage Sites.
In order for a site to be designated a World Heritage Site, it must first make it to a country’s tentative list of natural and cultural heritage properties. The last time the tentative list for Canada was updated was 2004 and five of the eleven sites on that list have since been designated World Heritage sites.
Environment Canada has now issued a call for applications for sites to be considered as additions to Canada’s tentative list. In order to qualify, a proposed site must have “outstanding universal value”.
The forest stand itself is estimated to be three to 4 thousand years old, with giant red cedars that are a thousand years old. The Ancient Forest has already proven to be home to previously unknown and, or, rare species of plant life. When it was announced earlier this year that the Ancient Forest would become a Class A Provincial Park, Premier Christy Clark said the Province would then continue the process with the goal of having the eleven thousand hectare site declared a World Heritage Site.
At that announcement in March, UNBC Researcher, Darwyn Coxson described the Ancient Forest this way “We don’t have to go to the tropics or Brazil, we have an unknown world right on our doorstep here.” He said the Ancient Forest is not only unique in a BC context “It is internationally significant, unparalleled in the world.”
MLA Shirley Bond says an important step in nominating the Ancient Forest as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the $27,540 grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust to the University of Northern British Columbia to conduct a biodiversity assessment of the flora and fauna. ” The primary goal of this project is to assess the biodiversity of the plant life in the Ancient Forest. The information collected will be critical in showing that the Ancient Forest is a unique, valuable, and irreplaceable part of the global ecosystem.”
All applications for possible inclusion on the Tentative List must be received by January 27, 2017.
A special committee of Canadian experts on natural and cultural heritage will review the applications and the committee’s decision will be announced next December as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Even if the Ancient Forest makes it to the Tentative List, there is no guarantee it will be declared a World Heritage site, as only two nominated sites from a country’s Tentative List are considered by the World Heritage Commission