Ancient Cedar Requires Additional Protection

Local groups decide to fence namesake tree in Elder Cedar (S’ul-hween X’pey) Nature Reserve

Gabriola Island, British Columbia, September 15, 2014

The namesake tree of the Elder Cedar (S’ul-hween X’pey) Nature Reserve, a frequently visited giant Western redcedar on Gabriola Island, is showing signs of distress. For years, visitors to the nature reserve have enjoyed getting close to this magnificent tree, but the foot traffic has compacted the soil and damaged roots that are critical to the tree’s health. Three local groups have had to make the tough decision to protect the tree’s root zone with a fence.

The Islands Trust Fund (owners of the reserve), in partnership with the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust and the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust, who co-hold a covenant on the nature reserve, consulted an arborist and reviewed options to maintain the tree’s health. Compacted soil in the root zone is reducing the ability of water to move through the soil, impeding the movement of oxygen to the roots and inhibiting root growth. This damage to the roots has weakened the tree, increasing its susceptibility to disease and shortening its lifespan. A simple fence to deter people from walking around the base of the Elder Cedar is the first step in the restoration of its root zone. Interpretive signs are now in place to explain the restoration effort and to encourage visitors to stay on the trails. These interim measures will allow the tree’s root system to begin to recover while a more permanent solution, such as a boardwalk, is considered.

“While visitors can no longer get as close to the Elder Cedar as they once could, these steps to protect its roots and reduce soil compaction may extend its life by a hundred years or more,” said Anne Landry, member of Gabriola Land and Trails Trust. “Visitors are asked to respect the fence and signage, so that the magnificent Elder Cedar will not be loved to death.”

Elder Cedar (S’ul-hween X’pey) Nature Reserve contains some of the last remaining old growth forest on Gabriola Island. The 65-hectare nature reserve’s trails offer locals and visitors a chance to see and appreciate ancient specimens of Western redcedar, Western hemlock and Douglas-fir.

Media Contact

Jennifer Eliason, Manager, Islands Trust Fund, 250-405-5191 


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Caption: Interpretive sign installed to encourage visitors to respect the new fence protecting the Elder Cedar.


Caption: Local volunteers Randy Young, Norm Harburn, Rob Brockly and Jamie Doig installed the new interpretive sign at Elder Cedar Nature Reserve.  

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