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Expanding Our Roots

Stewards of the Forest –
Woodlot licensees take land management responsibility to heart
by Deborah Greaves for the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations 

Lisa Marak, Communications Coordinator for the BC Federation of BC Woodlot Associations.

“I wonder if the people who hike or ride their horses or ATVs through our forest ever think of the people who are responsible for that terrain and what that entails,” says Lisa Marak, a Kelowna mother of two and second generation woodlot owner. “I certainly didn’t until I returned home to Kelowna with my family after living in Vancouver for 25 years and took over the management of our family’s woodlot license.”

Woodlot licensees tend many of the forests near towns and communities that people enjoy driving through, looking out their window at or recreating in, Marak says.

Modern day woodlot licensees, of which there are more than 800 in BC, have a challenging job — to manage for healthy forests, harvest timber, establish a new forest where they harvested, protect water, wildlife, recreation and cultural heritage resources, and maintain access to Crown forest land.

Most woodlot licensees live near the land they are licensed to manage so they have a personal attachment to the Crown forest they manage. They develop strong bonds with their neighbours, and are part of the community.

Most woodlots are licensed to families, and many of those families care for the land for decades, even generations. They take a long-term, hands-on approach to forest management. In order to meet government standards, they often spend thousands of dollars on management plans that require Ministry of Forests and Range approval. Profit comes in long after the additional costs of each harvest.

While some families harvest trees every year, others like the Maraks harvest once every five years, using the services of a professional logger. The wood is usually harvested in small, carefully-designed sections called cut blocks.

At a slow and sustainable rate, it takes up to 100 years to complete a harvesting cycle, keeping in mind that not all areas are harvested. Some parcels of land are designated not to be harvested in order to protect unique values such as wildlife, old growth attributes and water quality.

“We manage Crown forest land, but it’s land that is also part of the urban interface, which impacts communities,” says Marak. “Much like farmers, we’re stewards of the land on behalf of the larger community.”


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