Forest

Blue Earth Forest Farm is an off-grid forest-farm in British Columbia, Canada.

The Nlaka’pamux people have lived here for 1000's of years sustainably and respectfully.

It is our intention to respect this wisdom and the peoples carrying on these traditions.

We are a Douglas Fir climax forest on the edge of a Ponderosa pine - bunchgrass dry zone.

Our watershed is the mighty Thompson river.

We have much to learn and much to heal.

Let's get to work!

 

Using Permaculture, EcoForestry and BioMimicry principles we are regenerating and restoring the forest understory, edges and meadows to preserve top-soil integrity, maximize moisture holding capacity, and increase the fungal matrix.

 

Our mission is to grow and wildcraft our foods, medicines and building materials ALL while allowing the forest to return to a mature uneven stand with old growth characteristics.

 

Currently there is a 100 years of forest mismanagement by our colonial government.

This is now admitted by the government and there are big changes from above being promised. While these promises are in slow motion we will not stand around and wait for them.

 

Record forest fires in the past decade have finally led to this admission for change.

While the notoriously slow wheels of bureaucracy attempt to shift gears to more sustainable forest models, the private sector is busy moving as fast as possible.

 

New buzzwords of silvopasture, agriforestry, permaculture, restoration agriculture, food forestry etc. are building momentum on private woodlots, community woodlots and farms big and small that work the forest' edge.

 

The cutting edge of science is revealing the massive importance of fungal networks, tree pheromones, our immune system and the gut microbiome.

It's time to work with, and not against, these natural systems of creation.

 

One of the critical tasks at hand while settling on the land in the interior dry lands of British Columbia is to thin the forest to pre-colonial states of natural balance.

Currently, by my estimates, there appears to be 60% too much carbon standing in the forests that surround our homestead.

 

Using permaculture and eco-forestry mapping we are working systematically in zones 1 and 2 dropping this 60% of carbon on to the forest floor.

We are low grade selecting the "weaker" trees and leaving the "stronger" trees.

This low grading, over time, will eventually lead to a higher quality stand of mature forest.

The larger of the "weaker" trees we will mill for our homes, cabins and sauna kits.

We will leave some large trees down each acre as nature would do.

 

There is so much carbon to remove, we are, in a way, blessed with many smaller trees.

These trees are cut up for firewood, used for post and beam structures, posts and rails, and placed on the earth to mimic the large "dead-down" that one would see in a natural forest.

We lay these trees down along the contour of the earth which acts as a swale/hugelbed.

We are 3 years into this practice now and the swales are starting to decay, hold moisture and act as fungal batteries much as large dead-down trees behave over time.

UBC forestry visited us a few years ago and they encouraged us to document this process.

UBC has been working on ways to eliminate slash piles in forestry practice.

We are now calling this a Slash-Swale On Contour (SSOC).

To restore the forest back to dry interior symbiosis the goal is to not see any trees canopy touching another trees canopy.

This way, not if, but when a forest fire comes through it will naturally burn through the understory, lick up a few trees, and do its part in the forest fertility process.

Currently, with so much carbon overgrowth, a fire cannot do this safely but can only get pulled up into the canopy where it can rip through the overstory for 100s of kilometers and wreak havoc on the forests by burning too hot and on the communities by being extremely difficult to contain.

 

Here are some photos of some swales/hugelbed's we've started building into the landscape.

These SSOC's will help:

passively slow the movement of water,

keep it on the landscape as long as possible by spreading the water along the contour,

soak into the soil and irrigate the plant guilds by creating a water lense,

all before gravity pulls the water back to the Pacific ocean via the mighty Thompson river. 

Welcome to the fungal revolution!

 


 

You can see the cabin (zone 1 Permaculture) in the back left. What we are looking at is approximately 1 acre of forest. This part has been already thinned about 40-50%. There is still some canopy touching. Still a bit of thinning yet to do but a great improvement. You can definitely see sun reaching the forest floor whereas prior there was almost zero sun reaching the forest floor.

Heading up the mountain 1 acre you can see the difference in sunlight reaching the forest floor. This is where we are thinning in winter 2020-2021.

Starting to see the canopy open up and not touching.

The weekends in the winter is family time to all pitch in. It's a good way for them to learn about low grade selection logging, the gold standard in sustainable forest restoration and management. We have a bunch of hand tools to do the initial thinning of branches. We've also learned that the new Stihl Pro Battery chainsaw is super efficient at this.

 

The green swale that you see forming is what we now call a Slash Swale on Contour (SSOC). We had a research scientist from the UBC Forestry school come visit our lab and he highlighted the immediate need for doing something other than burning slash piles and sending tones of carbon into the atmosphere. This SSOC now stores tones of carbon and acts what is known as "large dead down" in the industry as it mimics large dead fallen trees. In effect it becomes a large nutrient and moisture battery that holds moisture year round, especially during the drought times of year. It also gives home to all the myriad of fungi and other soil microbes so essential to a healthy top-soil and mature forest.

The Slash Swales On Contour (SSOC) will start at the forest edge and work their way up the mountain every 40'-50'. This will enhance what is known in Permaculture as the "edge effect" where two ecosystems meet. The edge effect is a dynamic area that when two ecosystems meet their is a synergistic effect of symbiotic relationships occurring where 1+1 = more than 2.

Here you can see an 'S' shaped swale following the contour. This is about 100' in from the forest edge. There are now two swales before it starting at the forests edge. This means about one SSOC every 50'. There are logs underneath the brush. These comprise the first round of heavy thinning and other than what went to the mill and to the wood stove, all carbon is now stored and returning to the forest floor to mimic large dead down and act as nutrient and moisture batteries. We can now start planting food forest perennials in the understory along the edge of each swale in zones 1 and 2.

The red lines are showing the swales every 50' or so. These now mimic large dead down and in stead of burning the slash as is now customary around the world in modern forest practice, we are now creating a SSOC (Slash Swale On Contour) that will store the carbon and feed a much needed nutrient and moisture battery for the foerest going into drought season.

Let us help you design and install a passive system that amplifies the edge effect of the eco-systems that surround you.

Email Blue Earth Forest Farm for more information.