Silviculture for Salmon
Silviculture is the manipulation of a forest to meet particular objectives. Our project targets conifers and helps them grow and dominate riparian areas damaged by historic logging practices. Long-lived trees like spruce and thousand year old cedar were common along our region's rivers. The roots of these giants hold soil in place on stream banks and create fish habitat in the stream when they fall into the water at the end of their life. Up until 1995 there were no legal riparian protections. Trees were taken right from a river's edge and some times drug across causing immediate and long-term damage.
The health of a river can be measured by the characteristics and age of the riparian forest, and by the amount of functional wood altering water flow. More wood in-stream means more pools and more trees less erosion of banks. Stable river banks mean less sediment which can smother eggs and harm gills.
The Silviculture for Salmon project aims to work with natural processes by planting evergreens where they are missing, and choosing select trees along streams to promote their growth or decay. For example, evergreens grow slowly and do not thrive under the canopy of other trees. By ringing an alder with a girdling tool, they will naturally die and decompose. A small spruce pictured here will receive more sunlight and thrive as alders die off from girdling wounds.
Addressing the deficit of large woody debris and chronic sedimentation through silviculture supports salmon populations and ecosystem integrity. We are giving Nature a hand to create a biologically diverse and multi-storied forest along six watersheds near Tahsis and Zeballos thanks to the Coastal Restoration Fund grant, a program of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.