Danger tree removal in S’ul’hween X’pey (Elder Cedar) Nature Reserve has been completed.

“Danger trees” are those that are still standing but fully or partially rotten, with the potential for falling at any time. While no one wants to take out trees in a Nature Reserve, sometimes it’s necessary if they are identified as a safety hazard. Because it had been a long time since this kind of maintenance has been done in S’ul-hween X’pey (Elder Cedar), the Islands Trust Conservancy commissioned a safety audit of the Nature Reserve’s trails and arranged for an arborist to remove hazards where necessary. The number of danger trees had built up, and in the end more than 40 had to be taken down. While they may be temporary eyesores from a human perspective, they will support the forest as they decompose, and the fallen trunks can serve as nurse trees for the plants that move in to replace them.

The conservation aim of danger tree management is to leave at least part of a tree standing so it can serve as potential wildlife habitat, but the arborist found that most of the trees in SX/EC were too rotten at higher levels to climb safely, so they had to be felled closer to the ground. They will serve as habitat nonetheless, as all cut wood is to remain in the reserve, left on the forest floor to naturally decompose. Small branches will be left as close to the ground as possible for quicker decomposition and to avoid fuel laddering in the event of a fire.

S’ul-hween X’pey (Elder Cedar) Nature Reserve is owned and managed by the Islands Trust Conservancy. GaLTT is co-covenant holder on the property with the Nanaimo Area Land Trust (NALT) and provides some trail maintenance, boardwalk building, and invasive plant control under contract to the ITC. GaLTT provided assistance with putting up trail closure signage and notifying the community about the tree-cutting.

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