Alberni Valley is found in the south central Vancouver Island that hosts Port Alberni city, which is referred to as the heart of the Vancouver Island. The valley is specifically located between east coast and west coast of the island. Port Alberni lies within the valley, and offers access to the ocean, mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests, making it an ideal place for outdoor activities.
The valley is rich in wildlife that offers adventure for Canadians, as well as other visitors from different parts of the world. Mountain trails are perfect for hikers, while the rugged landscape is a nice choice for outdoor camping. The waters have about five species of ocean salmon, while the waters adjacent to Port Alberni has both saline and freshwater.
In the past few years, environmental protection has been a concern due to massive logging in the forest. China Creek watershed is a freshwater source, hosting a forest that provides home to different wildlife including wintering deer and other endangered species. Mount Horne and Cameron Valley Firebreak are other forested parts of the valley that have been experiencing serious logging. Since the fallout between the B.C government and Island Timberlands, several forests have been destroyed by encroachers.
Environmental laws have been violated, and several outdoor sceneries are fading away, part of riparian zones has been destroyed leading to poor quality of water, various animals are losing their habitats, and several indigenous trees have been cut down. In the recent years, there have been forums to discuss and address the challenges facing the forests. Most of the Alberni Valley residents have been attending the meetings and rallies, geared towards stopping illegal logging and log exports.
Over the years, conservationists and forest workers have been working hand in hand to seek a lasting solution. The municipal council of Port Alberni has also held discussions with Island Timberlands about the conservation of McLaughlin Ridge which hosts freshwater watershed. The good thing is that every resident is standing up to fight for environmental protection and sustainable resource utilization.
Port Alberni has turned to be one of the global centres where environmental protection has been taken as a communal responsibility. Interestingly, forest workers and environmentalists have been at the frontline to fight for sustainable industry that will see creation of more jobs rather than killing the existing job opportunities. Environmentalists have played a major role in supporting sustainability in the forestry jobs in order to grow the economy and eliminate political influencers causing environmental degradation.
The loss of the old stands due to extensive logging caused negative impact on the forest jobs. Today, the area people have been speaking and demanding the restoration of fresh watershed that has been providing drinking water to the Port Alberni. Also, people want the authorities to ensure that sustainable use of forest resources is achieved, in order to recover the lost old stands and forest jobs. The coordinator of Port Alberni Watershed Forest Alliance, Jane Morden, has been working together with like-minded residents to compel the authority towards restoring the McLaughlin ridge – watershed.
In an effort to steer restoration of the valley’s natural ecosystem, more than 15 conservation organizations including the Jane Morden led alliance signed a statement early this year to pressure the B.C government to set aside $40 million every year, which will be used to buy and protect private highly valuable lands. The kitty was named – Natural Lands Acquisition Fund – and will help in protecting resources such as McLaughlin Ridge.
To achieve sustainable resource use, both authorities and residents must work together to curb illegal logging. If the team working including environmentalists is maintained, there is great hope of successful restoration of the Alberni Valley.