Plant species distribution and abundance is determined by many variables, including climate, soil moisture and nutrients, and disturbance. This study controls for climate, soil moisture and nutrients by selecting treatment sites on the same or similar site series. This allows us to examine the effects of disturbance on development of plant communities.
Forestry is one of the most extensive and intensive means of site disturbance in British Columbia. The silviculture systems selected are important determinants of plant species presence and abundance. Light burning was used traditionally by First Nations to optimize the production of edible berries such as black huckleberry, low-bush blueberry and other desirable edible plants such as avalanche lily, camas, tarweed, and Indian potato. In contemporary times, mushrooms which are abundant immediately following a burn also make this practice valued. Studies of historical natural and human-induced fire regimes in the Southern Interior suggest that historical stand structures were fire adapted and that valued plants as well had adapted to 5-13 year fire intervals in which smaller amounts of ground fuel produced lower-intensity fires. First Nations are now concerned that valued plants may be either crowded out by conventional forest practices or killed in higher-intensity fires. This study explores an alternative silvicultural option for approaching this apparent problem, one which mimics traditional burning practices.
The research examining the response of culturally valued understorey plants to alternative forest practices in British Columbia?s Southern Interior is being conducted by a research team from the Simon Fraser University (SFU) in collaboration with the Kamloops Indian Band (KIB) and the University of Toronto (UofT). Two master?s students at SFU, an aboriginal undergraduate student at SFU?s Kamloops campus, and a post-doctoral researcher at the UofT are working with experienced foresters and knowledgeable elders from the KIB and their neighbours to find out what the ecological, economic, and social trade-offs are for forest management practices that include traditional forms of applied burning. The research will produce information that can inform the discussion between First Nations, industry, and government about new approaches to the following questions: (1) How do we manage for culturally valued plants as well as timber? (2) How do we calculate the costs and benefits of various trade-offs in doing so? (3) How do modern practices that mimic traditional aboriginal burning practices affect today?s forests?
The research is being conducted on mountain pine beetle (MPB)-affected forest tenures in the Montane Spruce biogeoclimatic zone, which are licensed to the Tk?emlupsemc Forestry Development Corporation (TFDC) or are on territory traditionally shared with their neighbours, the Simpcw First Nation (the North Thompson Indian Band). The undergraduate researcher is a Simpcw band member, and the majority of the available elders who will be interviewed about the condition of plants and the value they place on them are from this band. The TFDC manages the licences on behalf of the KIB. Their RPF, Jim McGrath, initiated the idea for the research, and donates his time to assist whenever possible.
The Montane Spruce dry mild variant (MSdm) was selected as the study ecosystem because the canopy mixture, containing Engelmann spruce, lodgepole pine, interior Douglas-fir, and subalpine fir, makes it desirable for timber harvesting while its transitional nature makes it a suitable habitat for the proliferation of shrubs and herbs such as black huckleberry, black gooseberry, saskatoon, soopallalie, kinnikinnick, juniper, wild strawberry, bunchberry, arnica, and pinegrass? all traditionally valued for a variety of food, medicinal, and spiritual purposes. In addition, the MSdm occurs at mid-elevations on the plateau north of Kamloops where the 2003 McClure fire swept across this ...
de Ville, Naomi, Lertzman, Kenneth P.; Pinkerton, Evelyn; Simpcw First Nation; Ignace, Ron; Ignace, Marianne. 2010. Evaluating the Ecological, Economic, and Social Trade-Offs of Managing for Valued Plants and Other Non-Timber Forest Products. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2010MR351
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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