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Buy BCwild

Centre for NonTimber Resources (CNTR)

A Future Beneath the Trees V o l u m e

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S p r i n g


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Welcome Special points of interest: Welcome to the new Issue The sap is flowing What‘s Happening in Atlantic Canada? 2009 NTFP Business Forum Sector activities. Ideas welcome!

Inside this issue: Spring in the Cowichan Valley


Word From the Woods


Economies for Working People


From Our Atlantic Woods


2009 Forum; Consumer Survey


The NTFP Challenge


Sector Development Activities and Updates


It‘s my pleasure to contribute to this new edition of the newsletter, A Future Beneath the Trees. There is a lot of information to share and a lot to gain from working together, and I‘m confident that the newsletter will contribute to building BC‘s wild sector. It‘s a tough period in the general economy and in the BC natural resources sector in particular. We feel the pinch at CNTR as funding for research, extension and sector -support becomes tighter. We know that our many partners face similar funding challenges. We want to thank our many supporters in the private and public sectors for their continued and valuable support: Harvesters and Producers across the province for their knowledge, Thrifty Foods, Vancity, SSHRC, FSP, AgroForestry Initiative, BCAFM, Service Canada, P a g e O n e Publishing, the Ministries of Housing and Social Development, Forests and Range and Agriculture and Lands. I‘ll take this opportunity to extend our sympathies to the family and friends of Minister Stan Hagen who passed away so suddenly. He was highly regarded as a good and decent man, and we appreciated his support for our work. We recognize that it is much

more difficult in resourcedependent communities as economic mainstays falter and collapse. In every crisis there is opportunity. This one is generating increased awareness and openness to the possibilities of new enterprises and new ways of managing resources to create and capture more value, and a broader range of benefits. Small natural-resource-based enterprises will never replace a mill as a large-scale employer. Such businesses, however, can provide employment creation, skills development, and new ways of managing I‘m encouraged by the growth of awareness of this sector. The Buy BCwild Directory

Shop the Wild 2008

continues to grow, with many more businesses listed and with high demand for the directory itself. A similar directory has been produced for the Atlantic Provinces and Maine following our model, and we are starting work with the Canadian Model Forest

Network and the International Model Forest Network to develop an international electronic directory of products produced in Model Forests globally. Our Shop the Wild Festival and public market last October attracted over 2000 shoppers and a survey revealed that many of them are dedicated consumers, regularly purchasing natural and wild products throughout the year. Forest managers are increasingly aware of the need to incorporate non-timber values into resource plans in order to support community livelihoods – both financial and non-financial – and the ecosystems on which they depend. Our centre continues to grow as well, in its achievements (see our web-site for new publications) and its reputation, with increasing provincial, national and international i n v i t a t i on s to contribute as experts to advisory groups, conferences, meetings and research projects. We received a big boost in the last year with three staff supported through the Job Creation Progra mm e of Ser vic e Canada: Jenny Bischoff, Holly Caine and Sheldon Kitzul. Their hard work has really (Continued on page 2)

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―In every crisis there is opportunity. This one is generating increased awareness and openness to the possibilities…‖

Welcome….cont. helped advance the Buy BCwild initiative. We‘ve had Anne Munier working with us as a researcher on several projects for almost a year. The core crew of Tim Brigham, Wendy Cocksedge, Evelyn Goedhart and myself remain in place and bracing for Wendy‘s departure for a maternity leave beginning in April. It‘s a joyful event, but we will miss Wendy‘s wisdom, vision and extraordinary productivity. Tom Hobby has started his own company, but remains involved in some of our projects. Darcy Mitchell works in conjunction with Model Forest projects and in developing new linkages with Europe. She has just completed a term as Visiting Scholar at the University of Göttingen in Germany. Finally, we continue to support the natural and wild products sector, emphasizing both human and ecological health and wellbeing. This is central to finding ways to realize traditional, cultural and spiritual values and desires in communities. Our hope is that CNTR‘s research and support of the sector can help create opportunities for income and employment through sustainable NTFR management.

Schedule of Events

April 17-18, 2009: Traditional Foods of Vancouver Island First Nations. Hosted by Snuneymuxw First Nation. April 18, 2009: The Aromatic Farm Co-op is hosting a public event in partnership with the BC Forest Discovery Centre, in Duncan. Join us at this pristine 100 acre forested site to learn about aromatic farming, essential oil distillation and the health benefits of aromatherapy. June 19 - 21, 2009: Seeds for Change Conference 2009 - A Cowichan Green Community event featuring social, economic and ecological issues in the Cowichan region. Fall 2009: Forest Communities Conference—Trends and Opportunities and BCwild Forum: A Future Beneath the Trees. Nanaimo, BC.

Brian Belcher is Director of the Centre for Non-Timber Resources

Spring time in the Cowichan Valley! A Future Beneath the Trees

It's March and the forests are ablaze with the yellow glory of our local swamp daffodils - the Skunk Cabbage. Ah, one of our earliest wildcrafting excursions. It feels good to be back in the woods. We head up the old logging road, deeply gutted from harsh winter w e a th e r, 4 x 4 s wi n g i ng rhythmically, we pull in to a familiar site.

back. Soon, the forest magically opens revealing a light drenched oasis, a boggy marsh, an alder grove and a field of blooming skunk cabbage. We pause to offer tobacco.

Alder was held in high regard by the druids of my Celtic Skunk Cabbage, Vancouver Island ancestors. An alder grove was a sacred place, where offerings and Trekking along the barely visible "path", I look for prayers were expected before entering. Legend familiar markers as the forest swallows us. That has it that the cutting down of an alder was forbidfamiliar ease envelops me, comfort in den, the red pigment emitted from the wound of transformation, I merge with the forest. We relax their heartwood resembled blood. Taboo! We will into our pace, my eyes grazing the forest floor, be harvesting alder bark today, removing limbs noting the wild herbs for future reference: miner's only, pealing the bark for a digestive tonic. lettuce, chickweed, cleavers, a patch of wild violets, and nettles wandering off toward the (Continued on page 3) creek, tender and ripe. I'll get them on our way A Future Beneath the Trees

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Springtime…..cont. (Continued from page 2)

my prayers; black bear has stumbled sleepily into the marsh, and is immersed in a digging ritual of his own. Our eyes meet; dazed acknowledgements are exchanged. He shakes his head returning to his work intent on a spring cleanse after a l o n g hibernation. We back off - returning to our world leaving him to his.

Unbuttoning my belt, I remove my equipment harness and layout my gathering sheet, arranging the tools in order of need: trowel, digging stick, skinning knife, clippers, baskets, and the often needed Shepherdia canadensis. twine. I take a Sheila Wray is a moment to Common name is soapberry or wildcrafter, medicine woman living in the breathe in the Cowichan Valley. As owner soopolallie fragrant air of operator of Hedgewych warm skunk cabbage and raw earth, Wylds, she uses her 30 years of allowing the healing energy of this folkherbal experience to produce quality wild botanical place to take over. I find among the medicine. yellow blooms a small plant, still folded in its winter sleep. I say a prayer and begin to dig. The roots lay deep in their muddy beds. The mud works ―I find among against me, like a suction holding on, drawing me the yellow down. I'm in their world now, where speed and blooms a effectiveness means small plant, nothing. It is slow, patient work. My arms still folded in deep in the silty muck, I sing plants its winter communicate by song sleep. I say a the thick fleshy root slowly gives way, eased prayer and by the sound of my voice. I grab hold; with begin to dig.‖ one swift tug the struggle is over. Strong medicine! I give thanks. A low rumbling grunting tone shatters



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Word from the Woods - West Coast Tapping To those of us who tap the West Coast‘s bigleaf maple trees, the weather this time of year is very important. We want some cold and snow and then a few days of spring-like conditions. This causes the sap to flow like crazy in our local maple trees. From November through March we watch the thermometer, barometer, weather channel, and Internet weather sites daily – looking for the right moment to start drilling.

trees‘ roots before there can be a good sap flow. We‘ve had problems this way during un usua l l y dry win ters. Temperatures were perfect, but the soil was too dry.

lies a layer of green. This layer prov i d e s a b i t o f photosynthesis, enough to trigger certain events within the tree including sap Most years we get some sap flow. flow in November, but not this season. November was one of So for those of “Most years we get the warmest and driest on us that are some sap flow in record. Our pond, which waiting daily November, but not usually r e a c h e s h i g h this time of this season. water by Halloween, was still year for that November was one The timing of twisting the brace down at New Years 2009. liquid gold of the warmest and and bit (or pulling the trigger on When the white stuff came c a l l e d driest on record.” the cordless drill) is critical to down in mid-December, we got maple syrup, a excited, but would the ground high water be wet enough? table, and a few days of Snow almost always leads to a cold and/or good sap flow when it starts to snow followed melt. Unfortunately, the snow by some warmer sunny weather is that hit mid December didn‘t what we‘re hoping for. In early West Coast Big disappear quickly and tem- March the maple season starts back Leaf Maple peratures didn‘t warm up East, just when our season is ending Tapping on enough until early January for with bud burst changing the flavour Vancouver the sap to really start flowing. of the sap. Island, BC If it‘s too cold sap freezes and we can‘t harvest it. Most of us think that maple trees are completely dormant during the winter, but they aren‘t. Just under the thin success. A hole drilled too soon won‘t produce. outer bark of small branches Some mechanism within the tree‘s physiology will treat that hole as a wound and close off the sap flow to it. But if we can drill when the sap is actually flowing, the tap hole will usually be very productive. Even the productive holes start to heal over after about four weeks. Then it‘s time to pull out the tap, known as a spile, and drill a new hole nearby. Another factor is the height of the water table. Maples grow in wet areas and have shallow root systems. The water table needs to reach the maple A Future Beneath the Trees

Gary, Teesh and Katherine Backlund own and operate BC Managed Forest 127 near Ladysmith, BC. Activities consist of maple tapping, floral greens and salvaged wood product, roadbed plant rescue, sales of native plants and trees and timber management activities.


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Economies Working For People? Haida Gwaii Co-op Aims to Try Webster's dictionary defines economy as 'part of a system that deals with mans material needs’; or, more broadly, a social system of production, exchange, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of an area. In other words, how humans interact with their environment and each other to meet their needs. The economic reality on Haida Gwaii over the past 100 years would be better defined as ‗part of a system that deals with corporate needs' . In logging, fishing and even the local wild mushroom 'industry', off-island companies export local resources and the profits, with only a small benefit going to some islanders.

Islanders are not happy with the status quo but little has changed as people press for increased local control of resources, protection of sacred places and sustainability. Wild mushrooms, especially the popular chanterelles, have been commercially harvested on the islands for over 20 years. Every fall, off-island buyers set up temporary shacks from where they purchase mushrooms for export markets. Most are sent to France where premium prices are paid for this wild delicacy. Experienced local pickers can attest to the steady decline in the prices paid to pickers. Two years ago, prices dropped to just $1.00 a pound,

while retail prices remained at $20.00$30.00 a pound. Some local people wondered if it would be possible to offer better prices to pickers and create more local employment if mushrooms were processed on the islands. A June 2005 feasibility study made some startling discoveries. After ruling out the possibility of going into competition with the off-island companies in the fresh market, a cutting edge technology for drying foods was discovered. A process called Vacuum Microwave Dehydration uses microwaves in a vacuum chamber (Continued on page 6)

―From Our Atlantic Woods‖…. Update For over a year now, the team at INFOR Inc., New Brunswick‘s premier private forestry resource centre, has worked with representatives from this province, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island and the state of Maine to

“The official launch of the [directory] is on April 4, 2009… printed copies will be distributed through listees, via tourism booths... organizations, Sobeys grocery stores, farmers’ markets and other venues.”

develop a non-timber forest product directory. ―From Our Atlantic Woods‖ will be available in April 2009 and

will list NTFP businesses from this region, include an extensive collection of photos and recipes, and contain information on historic and current uses of NTFPs. We have used the Buy BCwild Directory as a model to develop our own East Coast resource. Our campaign to recruit businesses to list in our directory has been extremely successful; we currently have over 250 listings from businesses selling regionally popular products like Christmas greenery, fiddleheads and maple syrup as well as a wide array of edible and natural body care products made from lesser known gems like cloudberries and hawthorn haws. The directory will also showcase wild mushroom growers, hiking and bird-watching (Continued on page 6)

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Atlantic Woods…cont. tour guides, beeswax artists, walking stick creators, figured wood sculptors and many more. The sheer number and diversity of NTFP businesses in our region astounded all of us working on the recruitment portfolio! Business owners are very eager to be part of this initiative to promote NTFPs and their small businesses on a regional and global level. The directory will be available as a printed catalogue as well as a search-friendly online tool. As well as promoting existing businesses, we hope the directory will bring woodlot owners, harvesters, producers and entrepreneurs together to share resources and ideas to expand and enhance the regional NTFP industry. Work is ongoing on the directory; we are currently planning the official launch of the product on April 4, 2009. Afterwards, printed copies will be distributed

through our listees, via tourism booths, steering committee organizations, Sobeys grocery stores, farmers‘ markets and other venues. We are happy to add our own directory to the growing array of resources promoting Canadian NTFPs. It is our hope that the people of British Columbia will enjoy browsing our directory as much as we have enjoyed the Buy BC wild publication. Following our launch, you can access a copy of the ―From Our Atlantic Woods‖ directory online: or request a free printed copy via INFOR Inc. in New Brunswick: or 506-450-8787. Janette Desharnais is executive director of INFOR Inc. providing education and information to New Brunswick's Christmas tree growers, private woodlot owners and maple syrup producers. Janette hails from a francophone farming community in Manitoba and, after completing her forestry degree, has adopted New Brunswick as her new province.

Haida Gwaii…. cont. instead of heat and creates superior dried food products that maintain their size, color, flavour and, best of all, reconstitute beautifully. Traditional air-dried chanterelles presently on the market are all and discoloured and do not reconstitute very well. Test samples were very impressive and presently, there isn't anything remotely close to it on the market.

manage forests for their non-timber values instead of only timber stands.

The Queen Charlotte Culinary Cooperative’s purpose is to provide local benefit to islanders, by creating local employment and increasing local control over islands resources. The idea of a community cooperative as a vehicle for harvesting and processing non-timber forest products makes sense in a place like Haida Gwaii. Co-op members must be residents of the islands, be interested in harvesting in a sustainable manner, and understand and respect community values. With community direction – especially from the Haida, to protect valued local food sources – other non-timber products could be considered for harvest such as berries, seaweed and salal. The co-op could also help facilitate more local control over islands resources by being a voice to the government to

“Cooperatives are founded on a common idea-that people, no matter what economic class or educational level, know what's best for themselves. People can work together to meet their own needs. A cooperative is an enterprise that is collectively owned and democratically controlled by its members for their mutual benefit.” (Melanie Conn, Simon Fraser University Cooperative Studies.)

The beauty of a cooperative structure is that its members (islanders) have the power to create its direction and priorities. Profits don't go to a single company owner but back into the cooperative to provide fair prices and wages for those doing the work.

The Cooperative presently has 38 members, all of them residents of Haida Gwaii.

Lynda Dixon is the Queen Charlotte Culinary Cooperative and General Manager. She can be reached at: Phone: (250) 559-8202; Fax: (250) 559-8242 and E-Mail:

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A Future Beneath the Trees Forum The Centre for Non-Timber Resources, in partnership with the Canadian Forest Communities Conference and Natural Resources Canada, is planning a one day Forum for the Fall 2009.

We are proud to present a one day Forum in partnership with the Canadian Forest Communit ies Conference and Natural Resources Canada.

Please be on the lookout for an upcoming announcement of the dates. Plan to join us at the stunning Vancouver Island Conference Centre for a day of learning and information sh ar i n g , linking research, policy and economic opportunities to build a stronger NTFR sector. Workshop



explore: The values of working together; Collaborative research;



Models for NTFR-based community development; Policy and resource management. The Forum connects people from across Canada to discuss emerging issues and sets the stage for informed approaches to Vancouver Island developing a sustainable wild products Conference Centre — sector. There is something for everyone: Nanaimo, BC whether you are new to the sector or a seasoned practitioner, come discover a future beneath the trees. To stay informed on the Forum and learn more about the 2009 Canadian Forest Communities Conference, watch for future issues of the newsletter and visit

Shop the Wild 2008 Consumer Survey Eating and buying local; supporting local economies; greater value; more wholesome. These are just some of the ways that attendees at Shop the Wild 2008 saw wild foods and other NTFPs. Overall, the survey results show that the festival attracted its target audience – those people that are concerned about and want to purchase their goods and services locally. Some highlights of the 2008 Shop the Wild Consumer Survey: 68% of those surveyed purchased a product from First Nations individuals or businesses in the past year. 99% purchased local products in the past 12 months. The most often purchased product was prepared foods and berries. Health and beauty products, mushrooms, and home and garden products were also purchased by a significant number of people. More than 80% of the respondents purchased a wild product (or service) in the past year. The most often picked reason for buying a wild product or service was ―Supporting Local Producers‖ See for more survey results A Future Beneath the Trees

More than 80% of Shop the Wild respondents have purchased a wild product or service in the past year

Your comments on this issue or suggestions for upcoming issues are always welcome. Contact us at:

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The NTFP Challenge, Russian Chapter It doesn‘t much matter where you go, or how far people might be apart geographically - basic needs are common to us all. Symbiotic relationships between plants, animals and people are the realities of our existence.


The term ‗biodynamic‘ is becoming more commonly heard in our quickly greening era. If we can consider the concept to include ‗bioregional‘ - as in the ‗One Hundred Mile Diet‘ - eating In traditional Polynesia, people were foods produced locally makes seafaring warriors and gardeners sense on many levels. In the whose skin was stressed with same way, using body care tropical sunshine, salt water and appropriate to our bioregion also wind. A plant came to the rescue - makes sense. the kukui (Aleurites moluccana), It was this logic, combined with whose pit contains enough oil to give the realities of a tricky situation it the name ‗candle nut‘. In the that provided an NTFP challenge Mediterranean region, olive oil was last spring. I was charged with used for skin care (as it is still), and applying my knowledge and the extremes of the Sub-Saharan experience in formulating African climate have as skin antidote natural body care products to a a waxy solid oil from the karite very specific situation: creating a fruit‘s pit, with natural sun screen model line of products that properties. It has become popularcould be made with local ized of late as ‗shea butter‘. All these materials, minimal processing, a plant oils are also traditionally used sparse population and a VERY as food and food-medicine by the isolated region - the Russian people who first grew and processed Urals, neighbor to Siberia!

Russian visit to Canada, Fall 2008. They are smelling conifer essential oils of balsam, fir, pine & spruce – trees that they would have growing in their region.

the food oils people process from their forest plants, such as pine nut oil, rosehip oil, sea buckthorn oil, a wild cousin to eastern European flax, as well as rose essential oil from Bulgaria. All of these oils have Eating foods t r e m e n d o u s produced locally benefits to human makes sense on skin. many levels. In the

The process of same way, using replicating my own body care formulas, replacing appropriate to our oils we use here for bioregion also their medicinal makes sense. p r o p e r t i e s (calendula and St. John‘s Wort for example) was an interesting exercise, as it showed that not only did we need to create the same kind of active ingredient profile, but also to consider scent, texture and whether the ‗oil‘ was hydro- or lipophilic - in other words, would it even work in a Thankfully, the non-water base? internet has Months of preparation came to fruimade researchtion on a beautiful morning in late ing such a M ay . Th e R u ssi a n e con om i c conundrum development delegation had arrived more pleasure on Vancouver Island, and it was my t h a n turn to ‗show and smell‘. Although it brain-pain. was months before distilling season, First, looking they were so keen to see my at what was distillation unit at work that I found a a c t u a l l y barrel of 2006 lavender flower buds. I available there had no expectation of getting any oil (as I had to say from them at all, but with m or e than simultaneous streaming translation I once, you can‘t filled the still and explained the procmake lip balm ess of form shifting lavender flowers from tree into an elixir of volatile oil – and lo bark)... then and behold, it was the highest yield exploring the that still has ever produced. It must properties of (Continued on page 9)

A Future Beneath the Trees

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Russian Chapter…cont. have been something about that U r a l s . The exercise f l u i d s t r e a m o f certainly showed us all that, if Russian... they could identify a local entrepreneur with an herbal Next up was actually bent - or a local herbalist with an making the salves entrepreneurial edge - a thriving one of the delegates cottage industry could develop. Nadezhda “I included NTFP oils w a s their people would be Alekseeva, Head of Although we don‘t know yet if able to access in their the Settlement of our Russian friends will be able Saranpaul a to find a team to do it, we are home region, charming, astute, using the idea here in the possibly creating woman who was very Cowichan Valley. A team of other business interested in the Cowichan people have launched ventures in growing process. She and her a new venture called ‗Cowichan and manufacturing co-delegates were Full Circle‘, which is dedicated to these oils in the delighted to learn that native plant salvage, sustainable Urals. I had included many harvesting, preparation of NTFP oils their materials and manufacture of a people would be able line of organic body care prodto access in their u c t s . I t a l s o i n c l u d e s home region, possibly capacity-building with First c r e a t i n g o t h e r Nations youth, and a public business ventures in growing and education component. This exmanufacturing these oils in the ercise lead to an active search for

more Canadian raw materials to include in product formulations – building on the inspiration of the Russian Challenge, to create a new ‗100 Mile Body Care‘ personal challenge – more on that as it evolves! We look forward to sharing more about Cowichan Full Circle in future editions of the newsletter. Hopefully we‘ll meet you at the upcoming Shop the Wild events in Victoria and Nanaimo!

Beth Lischeron is an evolving project – combining decades of work with Indigenous peoples around the globe with studies in ethnobotany, herbalism and essential oils with her considerable body of work as a writer, broadcaster and event coordinator. in 1995 she created ‗Dragonfly Dreaming‘, a pioneer company in natural body care in Canada. Beth resides in the Cowichan Valley, raising awareness, a new joint venture – Cowichan Full Circle - and a teenager. 250-


The Buy BCwild Initiative and the Centre for Non-Timber Resources would like to thank our partners for their continued support of the Initiative.

Funded in whole or part through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement

A Future Beneath the Trees

Sector Development Activities and Updates Our sector provides clear economic opportunities for individuals and communities. Buy BCwild is an important initiative that supports the wild sector by building capacity, educating consumers, linking the sector with emerging trends and creating opportunities for the sector to work collaboratively.

200 business from across BC. Shop the Wild 2008: a tremendous success bringing about $40,000 in sales to festival vendors. Shop the Wild Market Toolkit: this planning toolkit allows

communities to host Shop the Wild markets throughout the province. We will be reaching out to regional ‗hosts‘ to work in partnership with us to test the toolkit in two municipalities in 2009. Sector Market Analysis: Shop the Wild consumer survey provides important information for NTFP-based businesses. Focus groups are planned in the near future for more in-depth analysis.

Exciting news/activities include: 2009 BCwild Forum in partnership with the National Forest Communities Conference. Visit for information and registration details. 2009 Buy BCwild Directory due for release in June. This edition features more than

Shop the Wild 2008

The Atlantic region‘s ―From Our Atlantic Woods‖ directory is due to be released in April and is modeled on the Buy BCwild Directory.

Buy BCwild Centre for Non-Timber Resources (CNTR) 2005 Sooke Rd Victoria, BC V9B 5Y2 Phone: 250-391-2600 ext4328 Fax: 250-391-2563 E-mail:

The Buy BCwild Initiative‘s goal is ―to support the ethical and sustainable development of BC‘s wild sector and to improve the contribution of forest resources to livelihoods, employment and income generation in rural communities.‖ The Initiative uses four main activities to work towards meeting this goal:

A Future Beneath the Trees Published three times per year: April, August and December by the CNTR. Submission deadline is the 10th of the previous month. CNTR Director: Brian Belcher Coordinator, Education and Capacity Building: Tim Brigham Coordinator, BCwild Initiative: Holly Caine Editor: Sheldon Kitzul

Buy BCwild Directory Shop the Wild Festival & Toolkit BCwild Conference Quarterly Newsletter: A Future Beneath the Trees

A Future Beneath the Trees Vol1 Iss1 - Apr 2009  

A Future Beneath the Trees Vol1 Iss1 - Apr 2009

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