Ecosystem Based Management
Ensuring a resilient forest and community
The Sunshine Coast Community Forest is transitioning to Ecosystem Based Management to answer the call for a paradigm shift in forestry management. This is a voluntary, proactive approach to better manage our local forest, incorporating the best science with community and indigenous values. This methodology aims to sustain healthy ecosystems, to maintain and support biodiversity, to provide economic opportunity and to retain future options both ecological and economic.
This is a long-term, iterative and holistic planning process which strives to be truly sustainable, to respect and reflect knowledge and understanding, and to be adaptive to changing conditions.
In the first steps to implementing Ecosystem Based Management, we have started to invest in understanding ecosystems as they currently exist in the Community Forest. This has been undertaken at both a landscape level and on a per-block basis.
The latest Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM) and block reports detailing these
analyses and assessments are available in our Research and Reports
We are guided by renowned habitat ecologist Laurie Kremsater, planner and trainer of the Great Bear Rainforest, and our Operations Manager Warren Hansen, RPF. Scientific knowledge, indigenous traditional knowledge, and community values will be integrated into planning to redetermine our annual allowable cut, deferrals, old growth recruitment, watershed protection, wildlife, cultural, recreational, and other ecological strategies.
Learn about biodiversity and ecosystems
in the Community Forest
with the Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project
In 2015, a devastating forest fire burned through 400 hectares of forest on the west side of Sechelt Inlet.
The Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project is working to restore wetland ecosystems with our support at the Community Forest, and consent of the shíshálh Nation. Six wetland restoration sites have been completed and ongoing monitoring of these areas continues, as well as surveys to identify additional suitable sites for future habitat enhancement projects.
Wetlands have an important role in managing our most critical resource: water; providing purification, storage and flood control. Importantly, wetlands are also extremely efficient at sequestering large amounts of carbon, helping to mitigate climate change impacts.
Wetland habitats and the wildlife which rely on them are threatened by climate change. As summers get hotter and drier, small wetlands are drying out, and forest fires are destroying large tracts of land including forested wetlands. Species at risk ranking suggests that pond-breeding amphibians have limited ability to adapt to the warming and drying of small ponds, shallow wetlands and forest floors. To ensure the survival of wetland-dependent wildlife species, it is essential to maintain, restore, and enhance wetlands within human-dominated landscapes.
Species at risk in BC are protected by legislation, including the federal Species at Risk Act, and provincial Wildlife Act and Forest and Range Practices Act. These laws provide a solid foundation of protections to minimize negative impacts to at-risk plants, animals and ecosystems. These habitat restoration projects are one of many community-led initiatives reaching above and beyond those minimum legislated protections, and one which we are proud to be able to support with over $40,000 contributed as well as the efforts of our Board and staff.
Hemlock Looper Moth
The Western Hemlock Looper moth is a native species that is a natural part of the coastal forest ecosystem. It feeds on the needles of various tree species, preferring the Western Hemlock.
When the moths are present in large numbers, this results in the tops of impacted trees turning brown, and eventually fallen brown needles around the base of host trees. Some trees will recover, and others most susceptible will die from the damage.
allowing younger trees to emerge
promoting ongoing forest regeneration
supporting nutrient cycling
In our coastal forests, the Western Hemlock Looper population typically rises and falls over an 11-15 year cycle. They increase in number over time culminating in an outbreak which may last from 2-4 years. Large populations become susceptible to parasites which reduce the population to lower baseline levels, restarting the cycle.
Signs of an outbreak have been identified on the Sunshine Coast in 2021 including within the Community Forest in the vicinity of Trout Lake and Crowston Lake.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is monitoring the situation with their provincial entomologist, and they have seen an increase in moths dying from parasites. It is unclear if the moth population will crash or if we will see another 1-2 years of outbreak. Natural environmental factors will influence the duration.
Our coastal forests have co-evolved with the Hemlock Looper moths and other species which humans may consider pests. The fact that susceptible trees are killed off by the moths is an important component of ecosystem dynamics. This is essential in:
Not immediately, as generally the trees were healthy prior to dying. After years of decay the trees may become structurally weaker. Trees that had pre-existing structural defects and decay, on case by case bases, may have to be removed if they present a risk – for example if they are adjacent to a trail or road.
western red cedar
In the Community Forest the greatest impact is on western hemlock, which are more likely to succumb to the damage caused by the moths. Douglas Fir are also infested with moths to a lesser degree, and are generally able to recover from the damage.
There are no measures we’re prepared to take at this time. Traditionally here on the coast, best practice is to let the outbreak naturally run its course, usually within three years. The only known treatment is to use a bacterium naturally found in the soil. It is grown and applied in a more concentrated form.
The summer of 2021 saw extreme heat and drought widely attributed to climate change while the current Hemlock Looper outbreak was well underway. It is not yet clear what impact this will have on the survival of the impacted trees. Some experts expect that the drought and heat stress will make the trees vulnerable to other infestations, such as by bark beetles. Others expect that the trees may be better able to withstand drought conditions as the loss of needles reduces water loss through transpiration and that healthy trees could fully recover after 1-2 years. This has been likened to the effect of desert plants shedding their leaves during the dry season. In either case, for the next two years the browning and dropped needles will be apparent in the impacted areas.
Learn about local biodiversity and contribute to meaningful wildlife research by joining iNaturalist or WildCam.
These networks allow you to document your observations of wildlife, make them available to researchers, and connect with like-minded people to learn and collaborate.
Sign up to stay informed of opportunities to get involved with the Community Forest & its partners