On October 7th the managed forest area near the Englishman River became a living classroom for a group of over 30 students from UBC’s Forestry 547. This graduate level course is available to any visiting student or program graduate that is interested in developing a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing the forest industry in BC today. This tour was comprised of professors and students with diverse forest management perspectives that spanned over 11 different countries including China, USA, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, India, France, Tibet, Nepal and Canada. TimberWest was pleased to contribute to student learning of the BC context and demonstrate its commitment to the health and safety of Vancouver Island Watersheds.

TimberWest’s Manager of Stewardship and Engagement, Molly Hudson, led the group through the managed forest area near the Englishman river. This particular area was chosen as forest professionals experience multiple management pressures due to its proximity to a local watershed and a residential community interface. The group had the opportunity to visit an active setting and view the plans being performed by machinery right before their eyes. Students explored the various aspects of forestry operations that are managed within a community watershed, and the specific measures that are taken to help to insure the water quality of the region. The decision to increase streamside buffers along the river was one of the extra measures featured during the tour. TimberWest described the significance of going beyond BC’s legislated minimum buffers as an additional provision that was implemented to support the maintenance and protection of riparian habitat in the watershed.

Next, students visited another example of increased streamside buffers at Centre Creek, a tributary of the Englishman River and a salmon habitat rehabilitation project site. The group discussed parks and fish habitat within the area and learned about the history that led to the creek’s designation. In 1992, TimberWest, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the BC Ministry of Environment made plans for the construction of a hatchery and side channel, with land and construction materials donated by TimberWest. Centre Creek is highly productive and is used as an indicator stream for fish populations. To better facilitate the health of this high-value riparian habitat, TimberWest has selected to create larger streamside buffers as added protection for the Creek and salmon populations.

The group also discussed the latest LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology that is currently used in the forest industry. LiDAR is a remote sensing method used to examine many aspects of the Earth’s surface. The data is collected by an airplane and can have a very high resolution.  It serves many functions for forestry, from harvest area layout to gathering tree height information. It is an exciting time for forestry with the rapid availability of new technologies that support and assist forest professionals in their management plans – there is a lot for new graduates to look forward to!

Forestry 547 offers a unique opportunity for students to gain an in depth look at the considerations and pressures that foresters balance to manage forests sustainably. This course complements the variety of UBC forestry programs, from a Bachelor of Science in Forest Science to a number of Masters Programs. TimberWest is happy to support the next generation of forest professionals and provide the opportunity for hands on field experience. For more information on the range of programs UBC offers, visit their website http://www.forestry.ubc.ca/

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