Sallas Forest

Chloe and Adrian Bealing take notes on forest management, Sallas Forest, Sidney Island, BC.

If you’re a forest owner on a small island on the coast of British Columbia you inevitably face challenges. These challenges are exacerbated if the island you’re on doesn’t have ferry service— equipment has to be barged in, logs have to be barged or boomed out, and your unit costs are even higher because you deal in small volumes.

You know it’s important to have a clear plan and objectives for your forest, but management goals and priorities can be complicated when your forest is collectively owned by 80 or so individuals. Such is the story of Sallas Forest on Sidney Island, B.C.

Sallas Forest is an impressive example of what’s possible when careful planning combines with thoughtful investment to produce committed and advanced forest stewardship. As Rod Bealing, Executive Director for the PFLA, describes it, “It’s amazing what they’ve accomplished over there. They found opportunities for improvement — deer management, harvesting, spacing and pruning — and they’ve overcome obstacles, logistical problems and market restraints to achieve something quite remarkable.”

Much of Sallas Forest’s management success is owed to the energy, vision and commitment Peter Pearse brings to the project. Professor emeritus of forestry and economics at the University of British Columbia, Peter adds the 2006 PFLA Private Forest Stewardship Award to an already long list of notable distinctions including the Canadian Forestry Achievement Award, the Distinguished Forester Award, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Order of Canada.

With family roots in the island going back three generations, Peter first came to Sidney Island in the early 1980s when, after the creation of the Marine Park, Sallas Forest Limited Partnership purchased the remainder of the island.

Today, Sidney Island is owned by a strata corporation managed by an annually elected council. Much of the island’s waterfront is divided into residential lots, and the interior of the island is a common property forest, managed for the full range of environmental, aesthetic, wildlife and commercial values.

The primary management objective is to protect and maintain the island’s forest ecosystem in its natural, healthy condition with special attention to aesthetic and recreational values. Peter explains, “Basically, we’re trying to create a park, all owned by the same group of 80 people.”

Located at the southern end of the Gulf Islands, approximately 20 kilometers from Victoria, Sidney Island is 2200 acres in size. Sidney Spit and 440 acres at the north end of the island are part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. The remaining 1760 acres is Sallas Forest, a combination of:

  •  Waterfront portions divided into residential strata lots
  •  Sensitive ecosystems under covenant with the Islands Trust
  •  Managed forest ranging from oak meadows to deep coastal timber

The diagram below shows the distribution of the Sallas Forest’s land use.


pie chart of Sallas Forest Land Use

In their management plan, the owners describe Sidney Island’s forest as “an ecosystem in the long, slow process of restoration following removal of the original old growth – the stands of differing ages marching through the age classes from seedlings to mature forests – a process hastened in recent decades by reforestation, other silvicultural measures and aggressive control of the deer population.”

The Forest Management Plan

On our visit to Sidney Island in late January, Peter shared with us Sallas Forest’s 5-year forest management plan—Stewardship of Sidney Island’s Forest: A Management Plan.

In the past, we’ve posted about the importance of management planning and included some tips for creating your own forest management plan, and now here’s a concrete example of what a forest management plan can look like.

The Stewardship of Sidney Island’s Forest document is written in accessible, straightforward language and lays out a thorough plan with thoughtful explanations and illustrations to explain the necessity and benefits of various treatments and management decisions.

In Peter’s words, “ I’ve avoided all the usual jargon in forest plans to make it understandable to non-foresters, and hopefully a bit more interesting as well.”

If you’re interested, here’s a closer and more detailed look at the forest cover map on page 9.

Check out Stand Tending 101: Spacing and Pruning (Part I) for more on our trip to Sidney Island, including a short video of Paul Nimmon and his silviculture crew carrying out a juvenile spacing and tree pruning treatment.