Students from Bamfield Community school helped make Vancouver Island a little bit greener in April with the planting of the 40 millionth seedling for Island Timberlands.
The special cedar seedling was planted on April 10 in an Island Timberlands cut block 57 kilometres from Port Alberni in Huu-ay-aht traditional territory.
Along with witnessing the planting of the 40 millionth seedling, the Bamfield school students had the opportunity to plant their own cedar seedlings in the cut block in Sarita.
“I hope these youth will be able to remember where they were today so they can come out here and recognize where they planted trees,” Huu-ay-aht First Nation elected Chief Councillor Jeff Cook, who was present for the planting ceremony, said.
“They will know that they made a difference today by planting these cedar.”
But to Cook, the seedlings planted that day had a special significance.
“I make it a personal mission to re-evaluate harvesting on our treaty settlement lands,” said Cook.
“We could leave those trees there for the next couple hundred years if we plan it right.”
For the Huu-ay-aht, planning it right involves making sure that their other business ventures are successful.
“The bigger ones we’re thinking about immediately are the LNG project and the trans-shipment hub,” Cook said.
“Those are huge projects and reap a lot more benefits than harvesting on our treaty settlement lands does.”
Island Timberlands had invited Cook to take part in the ceremony a year-and-a-half ago.
“We said yes because we’re interested in the environment and the future of our traditional area,” said Cook.
Taking care of the Huu-ay-aht traditional territory is important to Cook and all Huu-ay-aht citizens.
“It’s important because we have to take care of our area and our territory and be involved in some way.”
According to Island Timberlands president Darshan Sihota, the cut block in Sarita will be reforested with mainly cedar seedlings.
Some Douglas fir to be planted closer to the road and hemlock, a prolific seed producer which is native to the area, is expected to return to the area on its own.
The plot where the planting took place was originally planted 65 years ago, said Sihota.