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  • Big Tree Summit

    Big Tree



    A big cedar at Whiterock Pass on Read Island


    The Big Tree monitoring network is an effort led by academics and NGO's to build an inclusive discussion on monitoring large, old, and otherwise special trees. It is not an initiative of the Evergreen Alliance.


    Hello all,

    Thank you to everyone who participated in our Dec 16, 2021 discussion, the lead up to that discussion, and for all the great work each of you do. On Dec 16, 2021, 16 people joined us on Zoom representing 2 First Nations, 1 Government office, 4 researchers from academia, 1 NGO, and numerous tree registries across BC. It was wonderful to hear so many voices sharing perspectives and ideas from the various pockets of tree monitoring you all are involved in. We’ve attached a document here [see below] with a summary of the meeting for your perusal.

    We will be in touch in the new year to set a date and theme for our next participatory discussions. Until then, thank you for your generosity in participating. We look forward to discussing details in the new year. 

    Happy Holidays!


    Emily Grishaber, MSc Candidate, UBC and Big Tree Volunteer, Raincoast Conservation Foundation

    Shauna Doll, Gulf Islands Forest Project Coordinator and Pender Islands Big Tree Registry Manager, Raincoast Conservation Foundation

    Ira Sutherland, PhD Candidate and BC Big Tree Committee Chair, University of British Columbia



    Big Tree Summit, Dec 16/21 Summary

    Here is a synopsis of the meeting. The results of polls are cited in parenthesis.

    Summary of highlights (written post-hoc):

    Every tree is a history of the land. Although many have been lost, we can learn much from those that remain, including their intrinsic roles in our ecosystems and in our communities.

    The hands-on, community-oriented nature of tree monitoring can inspire our relationship with forests, and amongst one another. Tree monitoring can act as a sort of antidote, both personally and perhaps societally to heal troubling narratives about the forest and overcome adversarial tones. The local nature of tree monitoring (nearly all participants monitor trees locally) can help bring forth the social and cultural importance of large and old trees—and forests more generally. Large and old trees act as sentinels to foster changes needed more broadly.

    Large and old trees, including those modified through past First Nations use, have intrinsic ecological roles, which varies across ecosystem types. Improved information on the spatial distribution and sizes of trees can also help inform the characteristics in trees that should warrant their protection. Because mapping trees in itself is not enough.

    Community-driven tree monitoring has been underway for decades in BC and interest is now growing. New talents have joined the cause. The emergence and facilitation of tree monitoring creates several needs, including:

    ·        To build capacities in how to verify tree measurements and maintain a tree registry.

    ·        Reflecting on an ethic of respectful tree visiting and data sharing (e.g., public or not) 

    ·        Incentivizing big tree protection on private land (and within public tenures)

    ·        Towards defining 'special tree.' Exploring how regional size thresholds can be set (64% identified this as a priority) and what constitutes a tree of special values to be protected from a socio-cultural perspective (82% considered this a priority).

    ·        Building a webpage to convey the structure and intent of this network, so that individuals and institutions can evaluate if they wish to become involved.

    ·        Others?

    Polls helped structure feedback during the Dec 16 meeting and will be used in the future to identify the topics and activities for future discussions. Based on poll results, the two top priorities for future meetings (47% in favour) will be to discuss salient themes during participatory workshops (similar to our discussion on Dec 16) and to organize a broader (public) conference that devotes more time to learn about key initiatives, themes, and insights of tree monitoring. There is also interest (40% in favour) for a visioning workshop and 27% are in favour to meet to better conceptualize the structure and function of the tree monitoring network.

    For more information, contact the summit: bigtree[at]raincoast.org

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