The three forests making up Hyla Woods (Mt. Richmond – 553 acres, Timber – 173 acres, Manning – 100 acres) are examples of temperate rainforests in various stages of regrowth and recovery from roughly a century of active human use.
Within the forest we find a fascinating range of interdependent species. We actively work to increase our understandings of how these forests work – a challenge that will never be complete.
The forests’ dominant tree species, Douglas Fir, makes up 84% of the standing volume. Grand Fir (14%), Cedar (3%), Hemlock (0.2%), Maple (3%), and Oak (1%) make up the other significant species.
Due to our choice to harvest at a level that is less than half of the annual growth rate of about five percent, the standing volume of Hyla Woods has increased steadily since 1986 to more than nine million board feet. Carbon sequestration in the forests is increasing at a comparable rate – roughly fifty times the carbon burned by the Hayes family in a year.
Throughout our ownership our focus has been restoration and enhancement. This has included clearing and reforestation of less productive areas, selective harvest of lower quality trees, development of road networks, and improvements to overall equipment and facilities.
While it is easy to say that our aim is to grow multi age, multi species, ecologically complex forests, figuring out how best to get there is a significant challenge.
- Single Age to Multi Age – One legacy of past harvest is that much of the forests is in even age stands. We wrestle and experiment with the question of how to make the transition from even age stands to multi age, given the dependence of many species on a minimum level of sunlight to grow.
- Invasive Species – Throughout the forests, we are challenged to keep invasive plants – particularly scotch broom and blackberry – from choking out native species.
Elements of our forestry approach include:
- Our commitment to using site specific approaches tailored to each site’s unique mix of conditions
- Regular thinning of stands with an emphasis on removing weak, lame, and lazy trees
- Patch opening harvests to accomplish transition from single age to multi age – large enough to allow in enough light to support regeneration, yet small enough to maintain connection to the biological legacies of the surrounding forest
- Ongoing experimentation and learning while resisting the potential for dogmatic thinking
- Encouragement of natural regeneration of trees, backed up by planting
- Minimal compaction of soils
- Use of herbicides only when we feel there is no other viable alternative
- Keeping the annual rate of harvest well below the rate of growth
- Finding ways to increase the energy efficiency of our operations, including onsite processing and solar kiln drying
- Regular monitoring and analysis of key indicators of forest health
- Development and use of a GIS and related systems to integrate all forest information