The land base of the Cariboo-Chilcotin region has changed significantly in the last hundred years. Decades of fire suppression in what was naturally a fire-maintained ecosystem has contributed to more frequent and intense wildfires throughout the region, tree encroachment onto natural grasslands, losses in wildlife habitat and forage opportunities, and an in-growth of trees in previously open forests.
Ecosystem Restoration (ER) — defined as the process of assisting with the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed by re-establishing its structural characteristics, species composition and ecological processes — is being applied in many areas throughout the Cariboo-Chilcotin in an effort to help mitigate some of the negative effects to the natural balance of the grasslands and forests.
- Improves habitat for grassland-dependent species, including cattle, deer, bighorn sheep, moose and many bird species.
- Increases flora important for First Nations traditional use.
- Restores forest health and improves timber quality.
- Reduces wildfire risks.
The process of ecosystem restoration within the Cariboo-Chilcotin region can include a combination of thinning trees with a machine, hand slashing, removing trees, chipping, slash burning and prescribed burning. The treatments vary and depend on the goals of the prescription for each site. Pre and post treatment research and monitoring is also part of every prescription.