Haida-owned Taan Forest has put $1.6 million in funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C toward the ecological restoration of nearly 300 hectares of riparian and habitat area in Haida Gwaii.
Work has been ongoing over the past two years. The first of two projects carried out by Taan was focused on restoring close to 185 hectares of riparian area along the Yakoun River — a nearly 60km long body of water that is Haida Gwaii’s largest river.
The areas along the river were identified as red and blue-listed ecosystems under the Haida Gwaii Land Use Objectives Order. Red-listed ecosystems are or have populations that are endangered or threatened and blue-listed ecosystems are recovering from being threatened or endangered. The restored lands contain protected areas for fish habitat and a 100-year flood plain.
“That river system was historically logged right up to the water and used to transport logs,” said Jeff Mosher, RPF, Chief Forester, Taan Forest. “These big rivers need biomass input to create small log jams to keep the pools stable in the river ecosystem and along the banks. Right now, the river is missing these big trees that support the bank, wildlife, and trees that would eventually fall into the river and provide structure and create habitat in the river.”
In a news release, Taan said their goal is to manage second-growth spruce and cedar trees to create large root and branching structures. That management style helps trees grow faster than they would naturally. It also gives the added benefit of strengthening the stream bank.
Workers spaced trees farther apart and created snags — standing dead trees — and introduced coarse woody debris to mimic the natural processes of riparian areas in a shorter period of time. By opening the stand, creating snags and stressing trees, workers created habitats for creatures like wood-boring insects, birds, squirrels and the endangered Haida Gwaii goshawk, which is the national bird of Haida Gwaii.
The project created six months of full-time employment, including a crew of 10 Old Massett people hired by the Old Massett Village Council that carried out work under the supervision of riparian specialists.
“The crew from Old Massett did fantastic work and Taan Forest aims to continue to build restoration opportunities for Old Massett and other Haida Gwaii communities to replace jobs lost from a reduced logging industry on Haida Gwaii,” said Mosher.
The second project carried out by Taan focused on spacing trees and pruning lower branches in overly dense conifer stands to enhance the habitat for the northern goshawks. Reducing the number of trees opens up flight paths for the goshawks and other avian creatures. It also allows sunlight to reach plants on the forest floor to promote brush and berry growth.
Spacing and pruning was completed by additional crews from local communities on Haida Gwaii including Old Massett and Skidegate.
“The hope is this will create more forage and canopy structure for goshawk and snags for saw-whet owls while also benefiting many other wildlife species,” said Mosher.
“Without the FESBC funding we wouldn’t have been able to do the work we’ve done so far and start an initiative for more restoration work. It’s significant towards reconciliation with the Nation and to restoring areas impacted by war-effort and pre-Forest Practices code logging.”
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