In 2005, a forest stewardship roundtable brought together people with experience is aspects of forestry as well as folks who simply love of the forest and lands to answer the question “How do we integrate the Dharma into our land stewardship practices?”

Commercial timber harvest is almost universally the underlying goal in most management practices. But at the Abbey economic gain is not on the list priorities. Here is the Abbey forest stewardship plan as discussed and observed during the roundtable weekend. Using the Dharma as the main focus keeps the balance in the goals as well as in our minds.

The main purpose of the Abbey is the practice of the Dharma – to train westerners who want to ordain in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

The secondary purpose is to provide an environment conducive for contemplation, meditation, and study as well as inspiration from nature for present day and future community members while protecting the wildlife, habitat, and the natural qualities of the land.

Land and forest stewardship objectives have been established at present to reach this goal. They are:

  • Identify wildlife species and their habitats presently residing on the land and create if possible habitats to encourage previously present species. Establish a wildlife refuge (including insects)
  • Maintain forest health through careful and thoughtful forestry practices
  • Reduce adverse effects of noxious weeds and hazardous fuel loads
  • Provide a sustainable supply of firewood for heating
  • Identify and maintain trails for solitude and the experience of nature by visitors. Replant and abandon trails not identified as necessary.
  • Ensure that the Abbey’s future development needs do not compromise the naturalness of the site or the meeting of the stewardship objectives
  • Create an overall natural wilderness quality (future)
  • Maintain the land in forest management to continue to qualify for forestry tax incentive programs
  • Commercial timber harvesting is not a goal at this time; it may become desirable in the future

First in priority (October 29/30):

  • Mapping.
  • Locate, categorize, and inventory the following: (Possible purchase of used GPS unit – eBay?)
    • Stands,
    • trails,
    • roads,
    • skid roads,
    • erosion-prone areas,
    • knapweed,
    • wildlife sightings and signs,
    • old stumps,
    • aspects of slopes,
    • wetlands if observed,
    • snags and logs,
    • and any unusual features found that may indicate past forest history.

The mapping has begun and in the spring we will continue mapping in order to divide the 240 acres of Abbey land and forest into smaller more manageable units. From there we will begin to identify more specific characteristics unique to those units as well as overall health, growth, habitat etc.

View photos of the forestry stewardship workshop.