Forestry Research & Management

Gwichin Forest Management Plan Cover

Gwich’in Forest Management Plan

Community feedback is key to Gwich’in resource management. Over the years, dozens of community and RRC members contributed to the building of the Gwichin Forest Management Plan. Creating this plan involved a lot of work; from identifying the need for the plan, doing research, consulting with the communities and finally writing and recommending the plan itself. These tasks required the cooperation of many different groups.

Through the great efforts of many people, we have a management plan that we can use to sustainably manage Gwich’in forests for all people in the future.

Forest Use Survey

A survey was conducted in the settlement area in 1996-97 to collect information on current uses of the forest, how people value the forest and community concerns related to forestry. Five Gwich’in participants were hired and trained to design and run the survey. Over 250 households took part in the survey.

Historic and Current Forest Use

The GRRB and the University of Alberta entered into a partnership to collect information on current forest use practices and historical timber harvests. Researchers worked directly with Gwich’in participants currently living on the land and reviewed the Hudson Bay Archives for information on wood use by steamships traveling on the Mackenzie River. The Sustainable Forest Management Network (SFMN) and the GRRB provided funding for this project.

Forest Monitoring Plot

A forest monitoring plot was established near Campbell Lake in response to community concerns that changes to the forest are taking place. The Biodiversity Monitoring Plot (Smithsonian Institution/Man and the Biosphere Biodiversity Program) was set up to monitor changes in timber growth and vegetation biodiversity. Tree growth in the plot is re-measured every five years.

Forest Growth After Fire Clearing in the GSA

A study was carried out on the effects of extensive seismic exploration, the majority conducted in the the 1960s and 1970s, in the upland habitats of the Gwich’in Settlement Area. Research was also conducted on the large number of naturally burned sections in the area. Primary focus of the study centered on white and black spruce forests, shrub meadows and fens.

Report on Driftwood Use in the GSA

In conjunction with University of Alberta, the GRRB conducted research into the quantity, quality and movement of driftwood in the GSA. The study also investigated local knowledge of driftwood. The study centered in and around the Gwich’in community of Fort McPherson and evolved through a desire to increase knowledge on traditional uses of local forest resources.

Rat River Biodiversity, Cultural & Historical Assessment 

In 1999, the GRRB conducted a biodiversity and cultural assessment (traditional and historical use) of the Rat River watershed after the four Gwich’in communities of Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic and Inuvik identified it as a proposed protected area for its wildlife and cultural significance. The Rat River watershed area has been used for centuries as an important harvesting area and travel route. Along with many cultural sites, numerous camps also exist along the lower Rat River. Fishing, hunting, trapping and berry picking are still carried out today. The study also identified the area as home to hundreds of species of plants, fish, mammals and birds.

Contact the GRRB for more information on these projects.