Forests for Communities: Growing Berries

When we say communities benefit from a “working forest,” we mean managing a forest so that it can sustainably provide economic benefits while integrating habitat management, water, recreation, traditional cultural uses and visual impacts among others. West Fraser works hard to develop sustainable forest management plans so that all community members can enjoy the forest and its benefits for generations to come.

In Chetwynd, British Columbia having access to berries is a value that plays an important role in indigenous Peoples’ practice of their culture and contributes to their daily livelihood. In the past two years, our Chetwynd woods team has been working to grow more berry plants in areas where we manage the forest. Working with the West Moberly First Nations, we buy berry plants from their Twin Sisters Native Plant Nursery to plant in easy access areas. “We are happy to be supporting their business and incorporating their values through initiatives like this native berry planting project,” says Don Scott, Silviculture Forester.

“This year, we planted over 1,000 wild strawberry bushes in our community forest,” says Don. Berry planting is very similar to tree planting as they require similar specifications. “We chose an area for the berries where we hope they will flourish. On the top of a hill, just up the road from the main highway, they are close enough so that Elders can access the berries but far enough away from the road that they don’t get dust on them from our forestry trucks,” says Chelsea Chirico, Assistant Forester.

The strawberry plants are being monitored this year, and our woods team will check back next summer to see how many have survived. “We are trying out strawberries this year and hope to purchase a variety of berries in the future for the Elders to enjoy,” says Chelsea.

Our Chetwynd woods team works closely with local Indigenous peoples on several important projects and shared interests. You can read about how West Fraser works with Chetwynd community partners: the District of Chetwynd, Saulteau First Nations and West Moberly First Nations to restore their community forest that was ravaged by the mountain pine beetle. You can also check out our work with supporting Saulteau First Nations sheep grazing initiative.