The partnership between John Kendall, RPF, and the Cowichan Tribes is allowing a superior Freegro™ tree shelter design to be manufactured again. As proven in multiple forest company trials and demonstration (e.g. Mosaic Forests 2018 trial/demonstration near Nitnat Lake) and the MoF Porcher Island trial, the Freegro fully nested, friction-grip clip, snap-on system offers:
- much easier installation (>125% greater productivity over plastic tube like protectors) and removal for reuse (3X the recovery of tube-like shelters);
- better early seedling growth due to a significant reduction in hydric stress (when compared to plastic tube-like protectors);
- a robust durable shelter than can be used multiple times up to and exceeding 15 years and, with installation and removal cost savings provide an overall cost saving greater than 25% over most tube-like tree protectors of the same or similar dimensions
- a much higher level of visual quality (i.e. Khowutzun Freegro™ tree shelters are forest green and blend in well with the landscape)
Climate Change Adaptation Mitigation Tools
A USDA study (Harrington and Devine, 2006) showed that Freegro™ tree shelters reduce hydric stress by reducing air flow around protected seedlings and keeping inside temperatures lower than ambient during the warmer part of summer days (i.e. 9AM to 5PM). This allows tree seedlings to grow more (i.e. more CO2e uptake per photo period) during climate change-induced, extended periods of hot summer drought. By substantially reducing hydric stress, seedlings growing in Khowutzun Freegro™ tree shelters can grow sufficient root hairs that will allow trees to adapt to drought by having the capacity to forage better for reduced soil moisture. This will have the overall effect of reducing plantation mortality (i.e. increasing stocking levels and rates of growth per tree and per hectare). KFT is in the process of setting up a research project with the UBC School of Forestry to qualify and quantify the impact of Khowutzun Freegro™ tree shelters on plantations experiencing climate change-induced drought and/or normal levels of drought. Enhanced carbon sequestration (no protection controls versus plantations protected with Khowutzun Freegro™ tree shelters) over the mid-to-long term has the potential of being substantial (> 100 tCO2e per hectare) with a cost per ton of enhanced CO2e sequestration being significantly below $30/ton. Khowutzun Freegro™ tree shelters can thereby potentially offer a very cost-effective way of reducing atmospheric concentrations of GHG. Climate benefits aside, KFT tree shelters can assist forest managers and landowners increase stocking levels above legally mandated targets on drought-prone sites. KFT and JKFC have the capacity/knowledge to assist forest managers and owners to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate such climate change mitigation/adaptation projects.