Our Story

Khowutzun Freegro TreeShelters (KFT) are proudly made by members of the Cowichan Tribes at our manufacturing facility located within the Khowutzun Development Corporation building in Duncan, BC. Cowichan Tribes are the most populous First Nation in BC, with nine reserves spanning nearly 2,400 hectares in the Duncan and North Cowichan regions. Forestry plays a significant role in the economic development of our region and we are proud to be key players in creating significant employment opportunities for our communities, as well as the revitalization and protection of our forests and managed lands.

Our Shelters

Khowutzun Freegro Tree Shelters can be reused multiple times on successive plantations with a design that makes them easy to handle, store, install and remove, giving them an average lifespan of 15 years. The unit compacts to less than one-third the size of similar tube-like shelters which significantly reduces manufacturing, transport, and labour costs. We provide a durable and sustainable seedling protector product with operational advantages that save forest companies and landowners over 25% on browse protection costs.

Following the logging of a forested area, tree seedlings are planted to restore the natural habitat of these lands. Due to an imbalance of predator-prey species in many regions, these seedlings can be susceptible to increased animal browse pressure. Our tree shelters were created to help protect seedlings from all kinds of animal browse and were designed with extensive research and innovation to provide superior, reliable results.
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KFT shelters are also an effective climate change adaptation and mitigation tool, reducing hydric stress by capping air flow and keeping shelter temperatures lower than ambient air during peak temperatures. This process allows the seedlings protected by KFT shelters to grow root hairs capable of successfully foraging for reduced soil moisture, enabling them to withstand longer periods of drought and decreasing rates of plantation mortality. 

Our exclusive Friction Grip Clip design remains fully secured to the support stake at all times, ensuring shelters are always windfirm and sturdy, and without losing tension over time.

We are proud to offer an exceptional product that results in enhanced tree growth, lower costs, increased timber yields and values, and improved carbon sequestration rates.

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Proud Partners

Cowichan Tribes

have traditionally been extensively involved in forestry and our partnership honours the cultural legacy of this relationship with the land while fostering opportunities for future economic growth of the Cowichan Valley region.

Khowutzun Development Corporation

is the home of our manufacturing facility in Duncan, BC. The KDC has been instrumental in securing grants and providing the necessary resources to support the start-up through facility development, training, and manufacturing. 

Mosaic Forest Management

is a leader in sustainable timberlands management with a focus on safety, community, forging positive First Nations partnerships, and responsible environmental stewardship.

Khowutzun Forestry Services

provides responsible and reliable delivery of forest management objectives through planning, engineering, silviculture, harvesting, and GIS mapping services to the Forest Sector.

The connection to our communities, our partnerships with organizations who stand for environmental stewardship and economic development, and our involvement in academic research that encourages continual growth within the forestry industry are at the core of Freegro’s mission and purpose: to provide an exceptional tree shelter that creates opportunities for Cowichan Tribe members and enriches our forested lands. We value and appreciate these relationships that support the common goal of promoting healthy environmental and economic landscapes, which are cornerstones of our operational mandate.

Our Impact

In August 2005, a study conducted by The BC Forest Service Forest Sciences branch examined five different shelters on (a wide range of criteria) the following criteria: effectiveness at preventing browse damage; ease of installation (based on planter comments); durability; and survival and growth of the protected seeding. They found the best survival rates and highest growth rates in Freegro shelters, and planters reported our shelters were “extremely easy” to pack and install.

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Our Facility

In July 2019, a LLP partnership was formed with Freegro Enterprises and the Cowichan Tribes to manufacture a new generation of shelters. The new partnership company formed in November 2019 became Khowutzun Freegro TreeShelters and manufacturing was moved to the Khowutzun Development Corporation building in the Quamichan Hall of the Quw’utsun’ Cultural Center in Duncan, BC. The Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre is managed and owned by the Cowichan Tribes and features authentic artwork and crafts created by band members.

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