exploration Archives - West Wind Hardwood
Forests at Work

Forests at Work

Forestry isn’t just important for our economy: it helps us enjoy our beautiful outdoors.  The recreation and backcountry road access made possible by forestry is important to both tourism and local communities – especially during our COVID travel bans.

BC has vast conservation areas and the most protected parks in the country (approximately 12% of BC’s total land area), second only to Canada’s national parks system. Many other larger portions are set aside for urban areas and cultural interests, wildlife, big trees, and habitat protections (included within the working forest).  Reconciliation, ecological conservation, and future increases as forests age over time all would suggest that BC will never “lose” its old forests.

Like the many other benefits of a working forest, cultural qualities like non-consumptive recreation — bird watching, hiking, biking, nature photography and more — help promote balance in nature.  Every day, millions of people take advantage of opportunities for outdoor recreation on both public and private land.  Designated protected areas of public land allow access for recreation, helping to improve human welfare while conserving natural resources.

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The Dark Web of Mycorrhizal Networks

The Dark Web of Mycorrhizal Networks

Dr. Suzanne Simard has proven trees communicate. Dr. Simard is a professor of forest ecology; teaching at the University of BC (UBC). As a biologist, she has tested theories about how trees communicate with other trees. Currently, she involved with the Mother Tree project investigating forest renewal practices that will protect biodiversity, carbon storage and forest regeneration in our changing climate.

Mother trees are the largest trees in forests that act as central hubs for vast below-ground mycorrhizal networks. A mother tree supports seedlings by infecting them with fungi and supplying them with the nutrients they need to grow.

Research has shown that beneath every forest and wood there is a complex underground web of roots, fungi and bacteria helping to connect trees and plants to one another. Scientists have now nicknamed this network “the wood-wide web” in its very similar structure to the internet. This web is a highway of information for forests to communicate, cooperate, warn and share with each other.

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Western Larch – Alpine Larch – Tamarack

Western Larch – Alpine Larch – Tamarack

What are larch trees?  Why are they special?
What are tamarack trees?  And why the confusion with Larch?

Larch (Larix spp.) trees have always been special favourites of mine — it’s that whole deciduous-conifer thing.  Members of the pine family (Pinaceae), they have soft green needles that turn brilliant yellow in autumn and then drop.  A conifer that is not evergreen. Not many trees that can make this claim to fame.

But let’s start with what does Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia mean to me in all of this?  Well, it wasn’t the Larch Forest that grows near Frosty Mountain in the Park.  For me, it was the family camping trips; the camping trip that put an end to BC camping road trips.  So much summer drizzle everywhere we went.  At 6 am, we woke to claps of thunder immediately overheard in Christina Lake Campsite.  We pulled tents and tarps down, stuffed the car and dashed in just as big, fat raindrops started to fall.  We rolled into downtown Grand Forks for breakfast; cafes were just opening.  We tumbled into the booth and while the waitress handed out menus, she commented: “oh you’re campers”.  What was the giveaway eau de cologne of campfire smoke and wet jackets?

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Passion to Work, Passion at Play.

Do you work to play?  Or is work wonderfully playful??

The lines are blurred for me.  When asked by accountants and other folks ‘is that trip for pleasure or business?’ I’m the deer with eyes in the headlight not knowing what to say.  Resolutely they plunge on; they say it can’t be both.  I say “what the heck?!  Is your work so uninspiring?” There are folks with black and white jobs and there are folks who are simply black and white in their thinking.

So, where does this go?  Our recent trip to the Broughton’s this past July.  We travel there because we love it…..OMG did I allude to the ‘pleasure’ word? There’s that grey area again. LOL.

Yes, the air and water is a little cooler in temperature; it’s like the Gulf and the San Juan Islands on steroids.  Nooks, crannies and oh……the wildlife.  Today, the almost complete absence of development or settlement results in an unbeatable “wilderness” feeling. This quality, which led Captain Vancouver to name the area “Desolation Sound”, is the quality that many people today wish to experience.

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Get Lost in a Forest

Get Lost in a Forest

Sometimes you just don’t know how important something is until it’s gone, or until you go somewhere that doesn’t have it.  Travel is that way.   Much can be learned by watching the land from the window of an airplane, train, or car. It opens the eyes; gives one pause to say, ‘Wow, I had no idea’.  Forests can be that way too.

But what is a forest?  The food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines forest land as an area where the tree canopy covers more than 10% of the total area and the trees, when mature, can grow to a height of more than 15 feet.  It does not include land that is predominantly urban or used for agricultural purposes.  And land that temporarily has no trees can still be considered forest when the disturbance is known to be temporary and trees are expected to grow back soon (i.e., after harvesting). Naturally caused additions/removals of tree cover (i.e., fire or pests) are included.

Stats…well, they can be manipulated any which way but here I go.  Forested area: (as of 2010) Denmark has 12.8%, the UK has 11.9%, Australia has 19.4%, Germany has 31.8% and Canada has a whopping 42%.

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Photos by Jan Nielsen – December 2011 – Denmark
Notice the farmer has tilled around the mound of trees; I am told most of these mounds reflect Viking burials (Left)
Beech Tree Forest with Jan’s Cousin/Wife and Me (Shelley) (Right)

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Trees of the Southwest Corner of Down Under

Trees of the Southwest Corner of Down Under

The region of Western Australia is a special corner of the world – now one of my favourite places for bush walking and just being out in the woolly wild. Well, it could be if I lived there  Much of the plant life in these forests is unique to the south-west of Western Australia. Trees such as the tingle only occur in this small area and as such provide a window to the past. Some of the plants have origins that can be traced back 65 million years to the super continent Gondwana when Australia was joined with what are now Africa, India, Antarctic and South America.

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