Chun T’oh Whudujut Ancient Forest is a unique ecosystem exclusive to inland British Columbia, known as the Inland Temperate Rainforest (ITR). Unlike other temperate rainforests, the ITR is more than 800 kilometres inland at the base of the Rocky and Caribou Mountain Ranges (about 115 kilometres east of Prince George). The forest includes cedar stands over 1000 years old that provide habitat for diverse species, from inland caribou to golden lichen. Declared a provincial park in 2016, Chun T’oh Whudujut includes an accessible boardwalk, picnic area, and over 2 kilometres of fortified walking trails offering pristine access to the distinctive ecosystem.
While visiting Chun T’oh Whudujut, individuals experience spectacular views of ancient cedar and hemlock stands peppered with golden lichen and lush mosses. Hearing songbirds sing next to the rushing waterfall is truly a transformative adventure. While walking along the wooded path, the magnificence of the rainforest transports you back to a lost time of connection and reverence with nature. Indeed, the territory surrounding Chun T’oh Whudujut has been stewarded for thousands of years by local First Nations groups; their history and continued accounts accompany the storytelling of the ancient natural beauty.
In 2020, the non-profit Ancient Forest Alliance compiled a report to the provincial government regarding the management practices at Chun T’oh Whudujut. The report concluded with several recommendations for the provincial government on how to better manage the ancient ecosystem; the number one recommendation was indigenous involvement. Currently, the provincial government is working with local First Nations through a two-tiered approach. The two-tiered approach involves 1.) direct government-to-government discussions with Nations on old-growth forests and management within their territories, and 2.) an Indigenous-facilitated, multi-Nation engagement forum to develop broad policy advice for old growth stewardship.
Additionally, Chun T’oh Whudujut is the recipient of significant financial funding. The investing in Canada Plan is a federally-funded initiative to create long-term economic growth, support the resilience of communities, and build social inclusions for Canadians by investing in infrastructure. Arising from the Investing in Canada Plan is the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Enhancement Project. The enhancement project involves the development of recreation facilities and amenities in Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park, including new wetland hiking trails, an interpretive centre, a sweat lodge, a pit house, a gazebo and improved accessible amenities such as boardwalks, pathways, washrooms, access roads, parking and signage. This project has received $6.5 million in federal funding and $1.3 million in provincial funding, with the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation contributing $870,000. Progress on the Chun T’oh Whudujut Enhancement project has been largely postponed due to the pandemic, but some construction and cultural correspondence is beginning to start again. Through Indigenous stewardship and governmental protection, the wonders of Chun T’oh Whudujut can be preserved for generations.