Ecosystem Restoration (ER) is defined as the process of assisting with the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded damaged or destroyed by re-establishing its structural characteristics, species composition and ecological processes.
In the fire maintained ecosystems of British Columbia’s interior, a lack of wildfire due to decades of suppression, the absence of prescribed fire and applying no other intervention or disturbance processes as an adequate surrogate for the role of fire, has contributed to trees encroaching onto historic grasslands, as well as, excessive in-growth of trees in previously open forests.
Province wide, hundreds of thousands of hectares have been affected by this ecological change, causing a reduction of ecosystem resiliency to climate change pressures and a host of negative trends in open forest and grassland ecosystems.
To partially mitigate these adverse effects on the crown land of British Columbia, a Ministry of Forests Lands and Resource Operations (MFLNRO) led, multi-sector Ecosystem Restoration (ER) initiative was announced by the Minister in the fall of 2006, supported by funding through 2009/10.
The initial target of the initiative is the fire-maintained ecosystems; however, in certain cases it may be deemed necessary to initiate treatment activities on other key ecosystems as well.
The expected benefits of the initiative are ecological, economic, social and cultural including:
- Mitigating effects and adapting ecosystems to the influence of climate change
- Recognition of managed fire as one of the First Nations historical influences on the landscape that is inherent in their culture
- Reduction of excessive fuel loads and continuity to mitigate catastrophic wildfire risks
- Improved air quality by managing emissions through prescribed fire and/or other treatments as opposed to emissions resulting from a wildfire potentially occurring during less favourable atmospheric conditions
- Restoration of damaged native open forest and grassland ecosystems which are habitat to 30% of the province’s at-risk species
- Improvement to long-term timber harvest values by spacing over dense, stagnated stands while also providing a potential bioenergy source
- Increased natural forage to sustain wildlife and livestock and their related industries
- Increased resilience of community watersheds to maintain potable water supplies
- Improved recreational and aesthetic values
Wildlands Eco-Forestry Contributions: Ecosystem Restoration Projects
Wildlands Eco-Forestry, as a consultant with The Shuswap Band, it’s Band members and First Nations business entities, completed over 340 hectares of Ecosystem Restoration & Forest Fuel management activities on the Shuswap Reserve between 2009 and 2011.
The overall project concentrated on; Band member and local displaced forest worker employment and retraining, forest fuel management, habitat identification, recovery and/or enhancement, stream restoration/ hydrological assessment, invasive plant identification/treatment and mapping, as well as integral community partnership development between First Nations government and local municipal governments.
This was an overwhelmingly successful program fully supported by the Shuswap Band and the Kinbasket Development Corporation and funded by the Federally sponsored Community adjustment Fund, Western Economic Diversification Fund during a very difficult and challenging time in the Columbia Valley. Our contributions and involvement in this Shuswap Band-led program provided several hundred hours of much needed temporary employment as well as training and employment opportunities.
See more at our Facebook page for more.