Merv Wilkinson’s Wildwood Report Card: 10 Years Later, via ecobc.org

Mervyn (Merv) Wilkinson lived and logged in his Wildwood forest property for decades.

MERV WILKINSON

Photo: Debra Brash

Merv Wilkinson’s Wildwood Report Card: 10 Years Later

After 10 years, sustainable selection forestry pioneer Merv Wilkinson is speaking out about how he views the Land Conservancy of BC management of his beloved Wildwood.

In its tenth year of TLC control, Merv Wilkinson began his campaign to get Wildwood back. Merv still lives in his house on the property, and watches on a daily basis, how Wildwood is degrading. He grew increasingly frustrated and disappointed with the way that the TLC were managing the property. Merv asked the TLC to get the property back. The TLC said that they didn’t think it right to break “the deal “ that they made with Merv 10 years previous. Merv responded with a 10 year report card to illustrate that the TLC has NOT lived up to their agreement.

TLC’s Draft Stewardship Plan

The “deal” that the TLC had with Merv 10 years ago was spelled out in the Draft Stewardship Plan for Wildwood. Since a formalized final version of the plan never materialized (or at least was never presented to Merv), the draft plan will be referred to here. For all intents and purposes, whether the referred document is draft or final, it represents, to the best of Merv’s knowledge, the intentions that the TLC had with respect to how they were going to manage Wildwood. As stated in the draft stewardship plan executive summary:

Merv Wilkinson’s 10 Year Report Card

The following presents the components of the draft stewardship plan. Corresponding to each component is Merv’s assessment on how “the deal” is working after 10 years.

Wildwood’s Draft Stewardship Plan Statements made by the TLC in 2000.

Merv’s Response After 10 Years

Goal:

Illustrate how one can live and work in harmony with the landscape. Wildwood’s long history of forest management, based on sustainable selection forestry, will provide an important example for future forestry education.

Wildwood, under TLC control no longer illustrates how one can live and work in harmony with the landscape. The long history of forest management, based on sustainable selection forestry basically halted as soon the TLC took control of the property. After 10 years, and a lot of pressure from Merv, the TLC cut 8 trees, in what appears to be an attempt to play lip service to sustainable selection forestry.

Merv’s intention was not to make Wildwood an example of what he did for the previous 60 years, but to demonstrate how it ACTIVELY exemplifies how one can live and work in harmony with the land.

Wildwood does not continue to be an important example for future forestry education, because there is no active forestry.

Through the education programs that Merv provided, present and future foresters utilized Wildwood as a starting point – where they not only learned the principles, but also had opportunity to put these principles into practice.

Continuity is imperative, not only for sustainable forestry, but to provide an important example for forestry education. This continuity has been lost.

Goal:

Show the significant influence Merv played in influencing development of ecoforestry concepts and methods.

Merv has a significant influence on ecoforestry concepts and methods throughout the world. The reason for his significant influence is his ability to teach sustainable selection forestry at a hands on level. This has been lost under control of the TLC, as they have not acquired qualified and capable people to offer this hands on approach.

Goal:

Honour Merv’s work in ecoforestry through demonstrating practices on the leading edge of forest practice where new insights and techniques are taught to students of all ages.

The TLC cannot demonstrate leading edge practices, because they have not practiced sustainable selection forestry for 10 years, and they certainly haven’t taught any new techniques.

Management at Wildwood

Wildwood will be managed by a three person management board. The three parties would be made up of:

  • TLC
  • Ecoforestry Institute
  • A third person acceptable to both TLC and Ecoforestry Institute.

The management board, however it has been set up, and whoever is on the board, is to all intents and purposes nonexistent as far as Merv is concerned. They do not inform him, nor report any findings to Merv, and even more disturbing, they do not consult nor involve Merv.

The three member board will set policy for Wildwood.

There has been no indication of a clear responsibility for policy making in regards to Wildwood. In fact, there does not seem to be any formalized policies for Wildwood.

The board will appoint a forest manager to administer the Wildwood Forest Management Plan.

As of December 10, 2009, which is nearly one decade after TLC took control, there is no Wildwood Forest Management Plan. If there is an appointed forest manager for Wildwood, this person is unknown to Merv, and this person does not consult with Merv.

It is appalling that the TLC purchased a forestry operation, yet after 10 years, still do not have a forest management plan, nor an appointed forester. This is proof, that the TLC and their partner, the Ecoforestry Institute are failing in their approach to Wildwood. This failure is negatively impacting many aspects of Wildwood.

The Wildwood Learning Site will be managed as a non-profit educational enterprise.

That is TLC prerogative. However, the educational component could be advanced into a world-class and profit generating component as it applies to teaching new and existing forestry practioners.

Revenue generated from ecoforestry activities will help pay for Wildwood’s operating expenses.

Up until November 2009, there have been no ecoforestry activities to speak of. None, that Merv would consider ecoforestry activities. Therefore, it is difficult to determine how the Wildwood operating expenses are being paid. In fact, it explains why fencing, outbuildings, and roadworks have not been maintained.

The Forest Management Objectives:

Continue to maintain the timber stands in a healthy, productive condition through selective thinning that will increase tree and stand vigor and enhance structural diversity.

The TLC/Ecoforestry Institute have not continued to maintain the timber stands through selective thinning, as is suggested in the Stewardship plan. The lack of timber stand maintenance has in fact, led to deterioration of the stand due to:

  • increased disease
  • increased pests,
  • soil depletion due to density of stand.
  • imbalance between growth potential and density of stand

Integrate forest management with other natural resources disciplines and programs to protect natural resources attributes associated with the forested area.

Given that Wildwood, under the TLC control, has become managed like a park rather than a forestry operation, it is difficult to say that the TLC is integrating forest management with other natural resources disciplines. We do know that the TLC’s approach to forest management is not at all the way that Merv Wilkinson managed the forest.

The forest will be managed on a multi-disciplinary, multi use basis…..This approach will facilitate the greatest good for the greatest array of uses over the longest period of time without diminishment of future productivity and options.

TheTLC have not managed the forest in a multi-disciplinary, multiuse basis, just as they have not managed the overall property in such a manner. As such, the diversity of the property has diminished. The TLC’s approach to forest management practices, has and will continue to hinder the future productivity at Wildwood. If we look solely at the forest, there is notably an increase in diseased trees on the property. Had these been managed properly, they would have been removed to prevent spreading. Recently dead standing and fallen trees, of high commercial value, have been left unutilized, for the purposes of biomass accumulation. In an operating forest, these standing/fallen trees with commercial value would have been removed, leaving behind the top, branches and stump to adequately serve the same purpose. This again shows the ignorance by the TLC/Ecoforestry Institute, toward Merv’s methodology.

Merv Wilkinson’s Philosophy and Practice.

Ruth Loomis’ book “Wildwood: A Forest for the Future” in combination with the stewardship plan should be used in order to capture the essence of Merv Wilkinson’s practice and philosophy.

Clearly, this has not been followed. First, the forest at Wildwood has not been managed following sustainable selection forestry practices for 10 years. It is apparent that Merv’s philosophy and practice are not being followed.

Wildwood’s Purpose

Primarily a learning site where practitioners and lay people can learn ecoforestry principles and practices. For this to be effective, the forestry objectives will have to be met. Secondary purposes of Wildwood are old growth preservation, and the production and sale of value added timber and non timber forest products.

It is difficult to learn ecoforestry principles and practices when there is no active ecoforestry to learn from.

It is clear that the forestry objectives have not been met, and as a result, proves that the learning objective has not been effective.

There has been no sales of timber, or value added timber. There have been no sales of non timber forest products, to any extent, if at all.

Program Execution

The Ecoforestry Institute will provide professional forestry services to manage the forest resources and the marketing of forest products.

Up until January 2009, there was no professional forestry service provided by the Ecoforestry Institute to manage the forest resources. Since there were no forest products being cut, there was no marketing of Wildwood forest products.

Forest Inventory

Much of this information needs to be collected on a regular basis to inform management.

(species composition and abundance, tree height/ages, size distribution, sph (density), basal area, cwd, soil (ecosystem type), wood quality, crown closure, stand volume, mean annual increment, regeneration, flora, fauna, soil characteristics maps)

A Forest Inventory has not been completed.

Management System

A Forest Management System will be used to foster desirable forest age classes, stand structures, species composition; and to preserve and enhance old growth areas and endangered species habitats.

A forest management system has been in place for more than 60 years. It was the poor choice of the TLC to ignore this. Merv Wilkinson has been living on the property for 10 years, with little or no consultation. There was no need for there to be a break in continuity when the TLC took over the property. This questions their ability to manage.

“As Merv favours protecting part of the property as a nature reserve for ecological studies. There would be no timber taken from the reserve. “

This reserve area is in the area known as “The Draw”. The TLC site manager and Ecoforestry Institute representative chose and cut three trees in this reserve area on October 9, 2009. The three trees cut, were situated in close proximity to one another. This was a selection that Merv would never have allowed – particularly in an area well known as “off limits” to cutting.

Harvesting

Single tree selection will be the silvicultural system used for the foreseeable future. This system will be used to thin stands for the concentration of growth, development of horizontal and vertical structural diversity, increase in value of the residual trees and to salvage mortality losses. Thinning will improve stands by removing some diseased trees, inferior species and damaged trees.

Single tree selection for the purposes of removing diseased, damaged or thinning have not occurred for 10 years.

When 8 trees were selected for removal, not one was a Merv Wilkinson selected tree (although Merv had gone out into the forest on May 13th, 2009 and selected and tagged candidate trees to be cut).Merv’s selections were ignored.

Three of the eight trees were felled in the above mentioned reserve area. One of these 3 was a Merv Wilkinson dedicated seed tree.

The three trees felled were closely spaced and aligned in a row, so when they were felled, a wind tunnel was created. During the next wind storm, the wind snapped the top off another reserve tree.As a result of poor selection, 4 trees were lost in the reserve area.

Outside of the reserve area, one felled tree was an unmarketable grand fir. One tree was a Merv Wilkinson dedicated habitat tree.


Report continues. To read more click on link.

Download Entire Report here:

To read Comments by Chris Walther, Chair of Ecoforestry Institute.

Download EIS Rebuttal here:

  • Phone: 604-515-1969
  • Email: andy at sinats dot ca
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