The Watershed Watch team met with a crew of tree planting contractors hired by Tronson Logging, to replant trees in the burn area in the Westbank First Nation Community Forest, above Gorman’s Mill.

Ntityx Resources hired Tronson to replant on the large burn site near the mill, in the FN community forest. The planters were quite excited by this contract as it was quite different from the work they usually do. The objective in this case, was to replant to eventually bring the land back to its pre-fire state. This entails planting a variety of tree species, taking care where to plant each seedling, and to plant to regenerate an ecosystem rather than a tree farm or plantation. This is a very different type of work compared to “traditional” replanting after industrial logging clear-cuts.

As professional planters who have been in the business for many years, in many locations, the young people had lots to share about the replanting efforts of the industrial logging industry. Their first-hand knowledge of the typical planting process is a depressing tale of failure, infused with frustration and a sense of efforts wasted.

They explained that many times they know at the start of a “piece” or planting block, the seedlings won’t thrive. The ground is too rocky, or there is not enough shade. There is no time to plant in a way that increases the seedling’s chances at survival.  They also added that they believe there are some places that just should not be logged because there is no realistic way to replant in a way that the seedlings will regenerate.

We know from personal experience in our own watershed that much of the replanted cut blocks often fail to thrive. This summer a previously planted block where the seedlings didn’t grow, was scarified and replanted several years after the initial replanting too place.  (see photos below). The scarification process itself is destructive to native species that start to emerge, and render the ground useless for wildlife, with its huge ruts and furrows.

The tree planters’ experience in other parts of the Interior confirms what watershed advocates have been saying for years. Replanting efforts by the logging industry to create monoculture tree farms is often not successful, because the ecological conditions for regeneration have been altered by clear-cutting.

PWPA and other watershed protection organizations across British Columbia will keep the pressure on the provincial government to live up to its election promises related to watershed protection and restoration. As well, governments must take all research into account, not just the data provide by the logging industry.

PWPA member Frances Trowse tries on a planting pack at a replanting site in West Kelowna.