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Nature photographer discovers ancient 'freak-of-nature' tree hiding in plain sight: 'I've never seen a tree as impressive as this one'

"It was decided that we should keep the tree's location a secret."

"It was decided that we should keep the tree’s location a secret."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

A nature photographer in British Columbia discovered one of the largest old-growth cedars ever documented off the coast of Vancouver Island — and he's not telling you or anyone else how to find it.

TJ Watt, a co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance, a charitable organization that works to protect endangered old-growth forests, waited more than a year after first happening across the massive tree, which he nicknamed "The Wall," to even tell the world about its existence, according to The Washington Post. 

During that time, Watt consulted with members of the Ahousaht First Nation, who have lived in the area for thousands of years.

"It was decided that we should keep the tree's location a secret because these are sensitive areas, and everything could get pretty trampled if word got out where to find it," Watt told the Post.

He also took time to thoroughly measure and document The Wall. It is believed that the massive tree is over 1,000 years old, standing 151 feet tall and 17 and a half feet in diameter. 

"I've found thousands and thousands of trees, and I've shot hundreds of thousands of photos of old-growth forests," Watt told the Post. "But I've never seen a tree as impressive as this one."

"It was incredible to stand before it," he continued. "I'd describe it as a freak of nature because it actually gets wider as it gets taller. As I looked up at it, I felt a sense of awe and wonder."

Canada's largest documented tree, a humongous red cedar known as the Cheewhat Giant, is located in the protected Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and stands 182 feet tall and 19 feet in diameter, per the Post.

Old-growth forests play an essential role in wildlife habitat, species diversity, carbon storage, and other crucial ecological processes. However, like so many parts of the natural world, they are threatened by pollution, the effects of human-caused extreme weather events, and the logging industry.

Although trees such as the Cheewhat Giant are protected, per the Post, 80% of the original old-growth forests on Vancouver Island have already been logged, according to the Ancient Forest Alliance. That's why it is essential that The Wall stays protected and its location unreleased.

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