Native Plant Forage Forest
The Galiano Conservancy Association has initiated a variety of ambitious ecological restoration and permaculture projects to support its aim of modeling sustainable living with the natural world. Up to this point, however, their various restoration and food production projects have been spatially and conceptually distinct. A recently clear-cut piece of land across from the Learning Centre building provides the opportunity to synthesize these two approaches to landscape intervention with the creation of a “Native Plant Forage Forest” - quite possibly the first of its kind in North America.
Galiano Island, one of the Southern Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia of southwestern British Columbia, Canada, is a small community on unceded Hul’qumi’num territory. It falls within the globally unique and endangered Coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone, characterized by mild maritime
climate, and is largely dependent on tourism and resources from the mainland. The Penelakut Tribe, which has been in treaty negotiations with the Province of British Columbia for 24 years, is working to assert its rights and access its traditional foods in a colonized, fragmented territory. This proposal brings together five central goals: (1) to restore ecological function and structure to a logged and degraded site; (2) to engage the Penelakut and Galiano communities in the planning, treatment, and ongoing management of the restoration site; (3) to document the creation and evolution of the project through various media; (4) to produce harvestable native plant foods, medicines, and materials; and (5) to monitor site, report results, and adapt management accordingly. To these ends, a thorough site assessment was undertaken, and a detailed restoration plan and forage forest design were drafted based on the results. Important edible species occupy central roles in the planting scheme. Site and regional history were summarized to inform efforts to engage both Hul’qumi’num and settler communities. Ongoing management and monitoring considerations are discussed, based largely on the masters thesis of University of Victoria graduate Hyeone Park.
It is my sincere hope that the implementation of this plan and the evolution of the project will benefit both the human and non-human communities of Galiano Island. In addition, I believe it will serve as a pioneering experiment in the harmonization of ecological restoration and permaculture with one another and with the traditional ecological knowledge that underpins them, providing valuable lessons and data for future projects. Finally, I hope that this project might provide a venue for the most important challenge of our times: the pursuit of truth and reconciliation - between 1 First Nations and settlers, and between human and natural communities - at local, regional, and global levels.