What is Land Stewardship?
It is a commonsense approach to sustainable timber cultivation while managing the land for multiple uses. Practicing it benefits both habitat quality and Sealaska's continued profitability.
Our core cultural values guide us towards practices that enhance opportunities for hunting, fishing, gathering and cultural activities. Our respect for the land is underscored by our continuous reinvestment in the land and forests. Sealaska as the “forever owner” of these lands works every day to ensure the same natural resources will be available for future generations.
What are the Benefits?
Sealaska takes care of our forests so that forests can continue to take care of people. When we do this our forests produce:
- Better quality lumber
- Shorter time between harvests
- Increased volume of sustainable harvest
- Greater abundance of fish and wildlife habitat
Our land management practices assure compliance with the Alaska Forest Practices Act and our own responsibility as stewards of the land.
Land Management Practices
- Pre-commercial thinning
- Basal pruning
- Hand planting
Pre-commercial Thinning (PCT)
Thinning, or PCT, is a practice familiar to gardeners. Careful thinning improves the growth, quality and health of remaining trees. The trees are less crowded and grow to maturity more quickly. PCT allows sunlight to reach the forest floor enhancing the growth of understory plants that benefit deer and other wildlife. PCT is the most important and main treatment for areas Sealaska clear-cuts. When PCT is practiced it marks the beginning of a new forest. From 1992 - 2010 Sealaska has pre-commercially thinned over 41,200 acres.
Like any careful gardener Sealaska often prunes its trees. Basal pruning removes the lower branches of a tree, up to 17 feet. We leave 60% of the branches so the trees continue to grow. Removing the lower branches lets more sunlight reach the forest floor helping to maintain the understory plants. Much of the understory plants are the result of PCT. Pruning improves the health and strength of the tree and the trees tend to have a straighter grain and fewer knots.
Following a harvest, the natural forest life cycle in Southeast Alaska ensures that new trees quickly take root. Each year we plant new seedlings by hand in harvest areas where this natural process takes too long. To date, Sealaska has hand planted over 1.6 million seedlings on 8,300 acres.
Fertilization increases yields at harvest age and can reduce the length of time required to produce successive timber crops. Sealaska has fertilized over 3,000 acres, some areas more than once. Fertilizer is applied by hand as well as from the air by helicopter. Sealaska will continue to investigate broad scale fertilization.