Brief: Look up the harvesting permits from Williams Lake Indian Band and write about that program. Write about how sustainable harvesting can happen (% left behind, no digging up whole plant, etc.) and find tips from other sources to share. Talk about how WCW is keeping sustainability in mind.
As you may know after reading our posts or exploring our website, the inspiration to start West Coast Wild Foods came from our passion for wild food and the outdoors. We have spent an entire lifetime in the forests of the Pacific Northwest learning everything we could about all the wonders this landscape has to offer.
Wild food harvesting isn’t just about going into the forest, exploring, finding what you want to eat and leaving. It’s about building a connection with nature, learning and discovering new things every day, and most importantly, doing your part to protect the land and keep all the living things that live there safe and healthy.
This post will be dedicated to sustainability, its importance, what you can do to keep your wild food harvesting sustainable, and the permits you are going to need.
The first thing we are going to discuss are the methods you’ll have to implement to keep your harvesting sustainable. There are a number of things you can do to preserve the environment while still enjoying all the gifts that nature gives you. The first thing is always keeping in mind that the moment you start consuming the products of the landscape, you become accountable for its well-being.
Now we’ll give you some tips and instructions you can implement every time you go to the woods to ensure you are harvesting sustainably.
1 Never stop learning
Educating yourself is one of the most effective ways to keep the environment safe and healthy. Thoroughly research of all the plants and fungi you want to collect and find out some basic information.
- Where do they grow?
- How do they reproduce?
- What’s the best season for harvesting?
- What’s the conservation status of their population?
- Has any recent event compromised their population?
The more you know about them the more you’ll know how to protect them while still taking what you need.
2 Take what you need, and nothing more
If you want the population of wild plants and fungi to stay healthy, something you always need to take into consideration is how much you are going to harvest. Sometimes it could be difficult to determine the limit, how can you know when you take too much? The rule of thumb is to take less than 10% of anything.
Consider that you aren’t the only one that’s going to go to the forest and mountains to gather wild edibles, many people will have the same idea, so even if you think the population of a plant or fungus is enough for you to take as much as you want, someone else could believe the same thing later, and then another one, and another, until there’s not enough to regenerate the following season.
And it isn’t only about other foragers, many animals could go and take a portion too, and there are other natural events that could compromise even more individuals until the population is at risk.
3 When possible, don’t dig up the whole plant
In some cases you won’t need the whole plant, for example when only a specific part is edible. In this case, the best thing you can do is just take the part you need, doing it carefully to avoid further damage to the rest of the plant.
Depending on the plant and what part you took, the plant can regenerate, reproduce, or even if it just stays there to be eaten by the local fauna, you are still contributing to the balance and overall health of the local biosphere.
4 Alternate your harvest spots
Consider this an opportunity to explore the land, avoid going to the same spot every time to give more time to the botanical population of that area to recover and at the same time discovering new areas. Overharvesting is easily mitigated by covering a larger area and harvesting a bit from the entire region. There are certain spots that are better than others, but remember where they are and try a new place as well.
5 Avoid protected and rare wild edibles
On occasions, you may find a spot with abundant specimens of certain plants and fungi that are within protected areas. Provincial and state parks are a perfect example. These areas are protected for a reason, and harvesting there is generally not allowed or outright illegal. A rare plant is something to avoid as well. Resist the temptation and avoid disturbing their growth to not cause more harm to its population. Also, you’ll keep yourself out of trouble if it happens to be a protected species.
6 Educate others and spread the word about sustainable harvesting practices
As we said before, you are not the only one exploring the woods to gather some delicious wild edibles. Talk with others and discuss ways to keep the environment safe. Talk about best practices, species at risk, natural conditions that could affect a certain population, invasive species, and any other topic that could help you to keep enjoying your passion for wild harvesting for many years while giving back to nature.
How West Coast Wild Foods keeps sustainability in mind
We are committed to getting the best wild foods for all of our customers, but we are equally committed to keeping our local forests in tact. Keeping the environment safe and healthy, putting all our effort in effective sustainable practices is our main priority. Everyone in our organization shares the same goal, keeping the forest wild. We follow all the tips mentioned above and we go even further creating our own methods to make sure we never disturb the natural balance of the forest.
Our work doesn’t pollute the forest, the air, or the soil, and our drying system is an all-natural process that only uses air and wood heat.
Due to many different factors, like natural conditions, protected species, or continued excessive harvesting, many areas have established agreements to protect their natural environment from practices that could harm it. One practice could be sufficient in one area and not appropriate for another.
Before going to the forest remember to educate yourself on the permissions and licenses you need before harvesting. Some areas have their own programs to regulate this activity and ensure that everyone complies.
Williams Lake Indian Band community forest agreement is an example of this, offering licenses and regulations for timber harvesting and both commercial and personal activities in the forest.
Being able to explore the mountains, the forests and the whole Pacific Northwest with all the bounty it offers is a beautiful part of our lives that we must protect. Protecting our local environment deserves our best efforts. Luckily, there are simple things to remember that ensure this is the case, no matter what time of year.
Keep this in mind and you will be doing your part to maintain a healthy land full of beautiful and delicious things to enjoy