Wildwood Ecoforest: the heart of ecoforestry

Wildwood is a 77 acre parcel located on the south end of Quennell Lake in Yellow Point

By Gerry Beltgens Special to the Chronicle

The people behind one of Vancouver Island’s quiet icons of sustainability are fundraising in an attempt to expand and remain sustainable.

The Wildwood Ecoforest is a hidden gem located between Ladysmith and Nanaimo in the Yellow Point area.

In 1938 Merv Wilkinson bought the Wildwood property with the intention of farming the land. After some study he was persuaded to manage the existing forest using a Scandanavian model of ecoforestry and became a frequently cited example of responsible forestry for the environmental movement in the ’90s.

Nearing the end of his life in the early 2000s he chose to put his land in the public domain to keep it from being developed. It was acquired by the Land Conservancy for $1.1 million and The Ecoforestry Institute Society (EIS) was appointed its official forest manager in 2001.

In 2013 the Land Conservancy encountered financial problems and chose to put the property up for sale. Eventually the disposition of the property landed in the BC Supreme Court and the purchase was resolved by a sealed bid process administered by a judge. The EIS won the bid for $800,000 and the land was kept in the public domain.

This time a detailed Ecoforestry Management Plan and Land Trust Deed was put in place and on title. The Land Trust Deed ensures that Wildwood can never be sold to a private interest, it must always be held by a like-minded charitable society and the forest must be managed in a sustainable way based on the ecoforestry principals.

Part of the bid included $115,000 in personal loans from EIS directors and a $450,000 mortgage held by Vancity.

RELATED: Wildwood founder leaves sustainable legacy

Wildwood is a 77-acre parcel located on the south end of Quennell Lake in Yellow Point. It has been carefully managed for approximately 75 years and even though there has been ongoing logging in the forest there are now more mature trees than when the land was originally purchased by Merv Wilkenson. This beautiful site is filled with trails, massive trees, birds, deer, bear and other native wildlife.

The homestead was seen as an integral part of the educational mandate by the EIS Board and restored as a source of revenue through rental income. The restoration took over a year and included all new plumbing, electrical, water and septic services.

All work was done with minimum impact on the setting and with energy and water conservation in mind. Materials used were salvaged or repurposed where possible and much of the wood came from the forest on the property. The result is a stunning rustic residence with room for meetings and music events. A colony of bats that had taken up residence in the homestead were carefully moved to outdoor “bat condos” and have continued to flourish.

To ensure the sustainability of the ecoforest the EIS is fundraising to buy back six acres of adjacent old growth that were sold years ago. This land borders the main property and is part of the watershed that feeds the protected forest and the lake.

The fundraising drive is on now and can be accessed in the Wildwood website.

Just Posted

ELECTION 2019: NDP’s Gord Johns re-elected in Courtenay-Alberni

Conservative Byron Horner finishes second, with Green Party’s Sean Wood third

Bear sightings spike in the mid-Island

Fruit trees number one food attractant, as bruin reports double

Commercial fisheries off-loading business booming in Port Hardy

Off-loading facilities pack, ice, and load in totes the fish that are caught by commercial fishermen

Four days of mediation fail to break four-month strike in the woods

Steelworkers union says Western Forest Products refuses to budge from ‘unreasonable concessions’

Vancouver Island firefighters showcased on Discovery Channel

Second season of Hellfire Heroes premieres Oct. 22

In the news: Liberals eke out a win, but will need NDP, Green support to pass bills

Conservatives say they are ready if Trudeau should falter

‘Wexit’ talk percolates day after Liberals returned to power with minority

An online petition is calling for a western alliance and Alberta to separate

Federal election saw 66% of registered voters hit the polls across Canada

Roughly 18 million people cast their ballots, voting in a Liberal minority government

Alleged RCMP secret leaker must stay with B.C. parents while on bail

Cameron Ortis, 47, is charged with violating the Security of Information Act

‘Inconsistent’ message on climate change hurt Liberals at the polls: SFU prof

Trudeau government will have to make concessions to hold onto power

Opposition to Trans Mountain won’t change, B.C. minister says

Pipeline projects proceed under minority Trudeau government

Remains found under Kamloops street belong to woman who lived five centuries ago

Woman was between ages of 50 and 59, gave birth at least once, was right-handed

Greta Thunberg to attend post-election climate strike in Vancouver

Sustainabiliteens Vancouver strike expected to emphasize need for cross-party collaboration

Musical pipeline to Victoria continues for Bruce Cockburn

Iconic Canadian singer-songwriter brings considerable catalogue, new material to Royal on Nov. 8

Most Read