Bulkley Valley Research Centre - Science in the Public Interest

Restoration of endangered whitebark pine in the Wetzin'Kwa Community Forest and envrions (2012)

Project Reference Number: 2012-17

Project Status: Complete

Led by: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Bulkley Valley Research Centre

Alana Clason, Bulkley Valley Research Centre

Funder: Wetzin'kwa Community Forest Corporation

For more information on the Bulkley Valley Research Centre's Whitebark Program please go to the Endangered Whitebark Pine Ecosystems of Northern BC website

Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is a keystone species that was listed as endangered under Canada's Species at Risk Act in 2012 (The tree and most of its associated plant communities are currently blue-listed in BC --under review for uplisting). The Wetzkin'Kwa Community Forest is located at the northwest limit of the tree's range. Healthy whitebark pine populations in this area are important for enhancing the ecological diversity and wildlife habitat value of Bulkley Valley forests and subalpine areas and for allowing this species to persist and to move north with climate change. In addition to learning how to restore and establish whitebark pine ecosystems using nursery-grown seedlings, it is vital to locate and select genotypes that are resistant to the introduced Eurasian fungus White Pine Blister Rust (Cronartium ribicola) as this pathogen is the primary reason why whitebark pine is endangered. Because whitebark pine is not a commercial timber-producing species, restoration of whitebark pine relies on collaborative community-led projects such as this one.

Healthy and diverse forest ecosystems benefit all members of the local community. More specifically, the project has the support of the Office of the Wet'suwet'en for whom whitebark pine is a culturally and ecologicaly important tree species. It benefits backpackers, naturalists and other outdoor recreationists such as the BV Backpackers and BV Naturalists who are also partners in the Bulkley Valley Research Centre's whitebark pine restoration effort and whoappreciate the value and beautyof whitebark pine ecosystems while in the back country. In the long term it also benefits hunters and other consumptive users of wildlife because seeds from whitebark pine trees are widely consumed by wildlife and contribute to healthy and diverse wildlife populations. Users of Hudson Bay Mountain ski area will benefit from the persistance of whitebark pine in alpine areas and the associated alpine/subalpine birds such as Clark's Nutcracker and Gray Jays while recreating in and around the ski area. The project directly benefits the WCFC because it contributes to its objectives of managing the community forest for ecosystem diversity, for a diversity of users, and for enhanced recreational opportunities.

This project seeks to conserve endangered whitebark pine ecosystems in and adjacent to the Wetzin'Kwa Community Forest through planting of nursery-grown seedlings that will be resistant to an introduced fungus (whitebark pine blister rust). The project has 3 Phases, budgeted separately. Phase 1 involves remeasuring and maintaining (removal of competing vegetation, re-ribboning etc) 3 trial sites established in and immediately adjacent to the Wetzin'Kwa Community Forest on Hudson Bay Mountain in 2012. Phase 2 involves collecting whitebark pine seeds from rust-free parent trees and sowing seedlings at Woodmere Nursery to support future plantings of whitebark pine trees in the Wetzin'Kwa community forest. Phase 3 involves contributing to the collection of seeds that will be screened for whitebark pine blister rust resistance to allow future plantings of improved white pine blister rust resistant planting stock within and adjacent to the Wetzin'Kwa Community Forest.

The project has three objectives: (1) to maintain the Whitebark Pine Restoration Trial established at 3 locations in and adjacent  to the Wetzin'Kwa Community Forest on Hudson Bay Mountain in 2012; (2) to provide local seed for nursery stock to expand whitebark pine plantings in the Wetzin'Kwa Community Forest; (3) To provide local seed for rust resistance screening and selection of blister-rust resistant whitebark pine from the local area.

Related Reports

Publication Date Report Title Authors
July 2015 Final Report: Restoration of Endangered Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) in the Wetzink'Kwa Community Forest and Environs Sybille Haeussler