Grasslands and open forests are one of the most important ecosystems in Canada. In British Columbia they cover only a small bit of the land base, but they’re home to almost one third of the province’s species-at-risk, making it easy to see why it’s so important we restore and protect them. But how? That’s where you – and our partners at Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) – come in!
NCC has been hard at work restoring the Kootenay River Ranch, a 1,600 hectare property in BC’s Rocky Mountain Region. Home to amazing animals like American badgers and bighorn sheep (just to name a few!), the property used to be an open grassland, but without the natural low-intensity fires that kept new tree seedlings and shrubs from taking over, it’s transformed into young, dense forests. That makes the property at risk to high-intensity wildfire, and it also means less grassland is available for the animals that rely on it. Here’s what NCC has been doing to help!
New restoration: Every year the team on the ground works to restore the most tree-covered areas to a more open forest structure. They work through the winter (when fire risk is lower, and when the soil is less likely to be damaged), and last year alone NCC added 100 hectares of new restoration!
Maintenance thinning: Places where forests have already been thinned need to be “touched up” by hand every few years, just to make sure new trees aren’t growing like crazy – last year, NCC completed this maintenance work on 141 hectares!
Invasive plant removal: Plants like knapweed, sulphur cinquefoil, and yellow hawkweed can make it harder for native grasses to grow, which is why it’s so important the team limits their spread as much as possible – in 2021/2022, this meant completing invasive species treatment at 64 sites on the Kootenay property!
Native species planting: One of the best ways to keep invasive plants from taking over again is to plant native species, and last year NCC planted over 120 native plants to do just that!