Ecoforestry is a forest management practice that maintains or restores natural ecosystem richness, complexity, and resiliency, while providing for ecologically appropriate levels of harvest.
Ecological Integrity (the state of being whole, entire, undiminished, including functionality) is the bottom line and the most important goal of management, otherwise there can be no true sustainability of any kind (including timber harvest).
Losing species or dangerously diminishing their natural abundance through forest management is not acceptable. They have intrinsic value and valuable functions in the ecosystem.
Timber is NOT of greater importance than biodiversity, hydrology, climate moderation, soil health, edible plants, recreation etc. The natural world is the basis for our existence and the basis for our economy.
How we practice Ecoforestry at Wildwood
Just like Merv Wilkinson, we endeavor to keep Wildwood as healthy, intact and beautiful as possible while deriving some income from it. We want to be as revolutionary and daring as he was, and will adapt our practices whenever we learn that we should – just as he did. He was interested in pursuing better ways of creating an income from his forest than by selling logs, and so are we.
Our Ecoforestry approach at Wildwood is based on the “Natural Disturbance Type” of the Coastal Douglas Fir (CDF) biogeoclimatic zone to which Wildwood belongs. This particular “Natural Disturbance Type” is characterized by “infrequent stand-initiating events” which historically have been fires returning on average every 200 yrs. This would naturally result in extensive areas of mature and old forest surrounding patches of younger forest.
Today’s reality is pretty much the opposite, just worse, with young forests (less than 80 yrs of age) dominating this “Disturbance Type” and Old Growth (> 250 yrs) occupying less than 1%. This means that species which depend on CDF old growth forests are going extinct. At Wildwood though, we are close to the natural age class distribution and we will let it grow older and let it increase the “dead” wood component (snags, downed trees) to resemble more and more on a small scale what a natural forest would look like in this biogeoclimatic zone. And we will thus store a lot of carbon at Wildwood and make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation in addition to biodiversity conservation.
Other features of our forest management are:
· Our annual timber harvest will not exceed 30% of the actual timber growth rate (which we can determine through our permanent sample plots).
· We carefully choose trees according to our list of ranked selection criteria which focus on ecological integrity and safety.
· We use low impact harvesting techniques and leave branches and tops as well as other low-market-value pieces where the tree fell.
· Logs will be processed at least into lumber at Wildwood.
· Tree species which are less frequent at Wildwood are receiving greater attention for retention.
· The market value of tree species will not influence tree species composition at Wildwood.
· No synthetic chemicals (i.e. fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides) will be applied.
· We rely on natural regeneration (seeding from the most successful, old trees).