Last weekend was a busy time for Whistler residents, with the Naturalists Fungus Among Us and the writers festival happening, we were a little concerned people would have run out of steam by Sunday evening (Oct. 14) when the Old Forest Symposium kicked off.
Turns out we needn’t have worried. The symposium hosted by the local environmental group, the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), set out to bring expert scientists to Whistler to share their knowledge about old forests and various approaches to managing them.
The symposium was broken down into three distinct sessions to maximise the opportunities for people to get involved and get involved they did. With just under 60 participants on Sunday evening, 50 attending the talks on Monday morning (Oct. 15) and 30 people donning their rain jackets for the guided site visit to the Ancient Cedars Monday afternoon.
As with all events there are people without whom it would not happen. For the symposium this person would be my co-organiser Bob Brett.
It was his idea to hold an event that brought this group of scientists to town and from that idea the Old Forest Symposium grew. We would like to thank the Community Foundation of Whistler, which provided the funds that allowed us to turn an idea into reality and our guest scientists Ken Lertzman, Andy MacKinnon and Curtis Bjork who committed to take time out of their busy schedules to be a part of the event. It was great to be able to add local context into the format as well, with Peter Ackhurst presenting for the Cheakamus Community Forest and Bob, who is a biologist by trade, presenting his research on tree ages, collected over the years around Whistler.
The symposium was originally intended to be a one-day session but thanks to a number of local businesses stepping up to support the event we were able to stretch the CFOW funds to expand the event. So thank you to Nicklaus North and Millennium Place for providing free and discounted venues respectively, Kent at Creekside Market for providing lunches for the 30 people and Keenan of Whistler Eco Tours who sponsored our site visit by providing us with a couple of their passenger vans equipped with drivers.
I was humbled by everyone’s enthusiasm and efforts to make this event a success. It goes to show that our Old Forests have many friends.
If you weren’t able to attend the symposium all presentations can be found on the AWARE website: www.awarewhistler.org.