Inland B.C. rainforest park reveals trove of 2,400 plant species

By Staff Writer

Researchers have been able to describe a bounty of around 2,400 plant species—many of them newly discovered—in British Columbia’s newest provincial park, Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park.

Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park, located around 113 kilometres east of Prince George, protects a portion of the only inland temperate rainforest in the world and boasts ancient red cedars as well as a rich diversity of mosses, lichens, and fungi. A boardwalk takes visitors to see behemoth red cedars and hemlock up to 5 metres in diameter and possibly 2000 years old, and the park is on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh.

The rich biodiversity was described through a three-year-long field study from researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia and botanists from UBC. UNBC ecosystem and management professor Darwyn Coxson described a particularly fruitful day near Tree Beard Waterfalls on the CBC Radio West program. “The spray zone around the waterfall had such a richness of species I think in that first afternoon he [a coworker] described 400 species.”

The researchers conducted over 100 surveys in the ancient forest to document the biodiversity.

An alpine dandelion and a type of stonecrop, a flowering succulent, are among two newly discovered species. Samples are being taken to the UBC herbarium for identification, and unidentified specimens will undergo genetic testing.

“We’re very lucky to have such a rich biodiversity heritage in British Columbia and I think it’s important we pass that on to future generations,” Coxson told the CBC.

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