Westbank First Nation principles applied to logging practices – Kelowna Capital News
Westbank First Nation has taken a progressive approach to managing its forest interests, based on the traditional beliefs and principles of land stewardship adopted by past generations, which it hopes will set a standard for others. forest license holders.
Dave Gill, Managing Director of WFN Forest Tenures Management for Ntityix Resources, said that since he began working with WFN in 2013, Ntityix’s perspective on forest management has changed significantly as Sylix environmental preservation values are integrated into land use practices.
Gill spoke about Ntityix’s shift in forest management philosophy as a speaker at a virtual public forum hosted Wednesday, March 16 by the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s WaterWise program, an outreach and education initiative, in recognition of the United Nations World Water Day on March 22.
Gill said PNW’s logging concessions have been divided into two categories: old-growth forest area, which accounts for about 50 percent of PNW’s current forest holdings, and forest management area.
He described old-growth forest areas as those centered around water, whether streams, riparian wetlands or lakes, which form what he calls a “network of conductivity” with the surrounding woods. .
“But in today’s era, that doesn’t just mean putting a fence around an area of ancient settlement and saying it’s protected,” Gill noted.
He described ancient areas as “sick forests,” overgrown areas that haven’t seen a fire in 100 years, thick with encrusted bushes and surface fuels.
Rather than being left alone, they require wildfire mitigation efforts to reduce the fire hazard capacity that can spread to neighboring areas.
He cited the Mount Law fire in West Kelowna, which reflects the impact of fire mitigation dynamics.
“As this fire was mopped up, you could see how in the areas where we had done fire mitigation treatment, the fire damage was quite patchy. Ground cover had burned and a few trees, but the major part of the forest had not been incinerated and remained untouched, while private land that had not been treated was burning fiercely,” he said.
For harvestable timber, Gill said land management techniques have incorporated smaller cutblock sizes and partial logging at area introduction points as opposed to the concept of clearcutting.
He cited the example of a harvesting area near Trepanier Bench in 2020, near a catchment water intake system, and near a neighborhood.
“We removed about 40% of the trees in this area and left 60% behind. It’s a new perspective on timber harvesting for us,” Gill said.
“We are moving towards adapting our harvesting methods to ecosystems…as we learn more about climate change and community values, we are also adapting our plans.
“This is not a plan we made that sits on a shelf and gathers dust, never to be seen again. This is a live plan and it always will be a live plan.
“We are moving step by step following the Sylix principles of forest management, and I hope that with all the other forest license holders working together, we can all move in the right direction. »
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