Ancient Forest Alliance photographer TJ Watt and Ahousaht hereditary representative Tyson Atleo stand beside an ancient western red cedar tree that ranks as one of the biggest trees in Canada (TJ Watt/Ancient Forest Alliance)

Logging still goes on in British Columbia where nature lovers would prefer it didn’t, but rather than bemoan the decision from afar, photographer TJ Watt goes and looks for the best arguments for forest protection—giant, ancient trees.

Ever since he was 19, Watt has been trekking across the verdant landscapes of his home to look for the oldest trees he can, but on a recent trip to Flores Island in Clayoquot Sound, he has found one of the largest, oldest trees in the country.

“No tree has blown me away more than this one,” he told CBC News. “It literally is a wall of wood.”

Found on Ahousaht First Nation land, the tree is a Western red cedar, sometimes called redcedar because it’s not actually a cedar tree. It’s estimated to be 1,000 years old, with a width at its base of 5 meters (16.5 feet), and a height of 45 meters (147 feet.)

The tree has been nicknamed “The Wall” or “ʔiiḥaq ḥumiis,” meaning “big redcedar” in the Nuu-chah-nulth language

“Unlike most other trees, it actually gets wider as it goes up,” said Watt. “It’s really the highlight of my life to come across something this spectacular.”

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Ancient, large trees like this one are ecosystems unto themselves, and provide the forests they live in with a wealth of genetic information on how to survive diseases, pests, drought, storms, and more, as they continually produce or pollinate offspring.

TJ Watt-Ancient Forest Alliance

The Ahousaht Nation is using the giant tree as a reminder to those seeking eco-tourism excursions in the Clayoquot Sound, recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, that the forests hold many awe-inspiring surprises.

This tree is located in a forest that’s ineligible for logging, which hopefully means it will enrich the forest for centuries to come.

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