1POLLINATOR HABITAT ENHANCEMENT
Trees and Bees
Hampton’s working forests provide raw materials for a variety of value-added wood products but they also create a wide range of habitat opportunities and ecosystem services as trees grow and mature. Recent studies have revealed that timber harvest sites can act as important pollinator habitat by opening up areas of forest canopy for habitation by plant and animal species that require more sunlight to thrive.
When we began our program in 2017 there was very little information available about which native bees made use of forest habitat and no substantive information about how post-harvest management might affect bees. Our partners in the conservation and academic community encouraged us to try out different management prescriptions and evaluate their effectiveness.
Hampton’s pilot pollinator habit enhancement project seeks to further improve that habitat by creating food and nesting conditions on harvest sites that are ideal for important pollinator species. At the moment our efforts are focused on native bees.
Researchers are only just beginning to examine forests as pollinator habitat, so there are not yet established best management practices (BMPs), or even recommended techniques for enhancing habitat. Hampton’s groundbreaking efforts in the area could help scientists identify what practices are most effective for forestland owners who may want to implement their own programs in the future.
We’re fortunate to be working with experts at the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and Oregon State University’s (OSU) Pollinator Health Program who are at the forefront of this kind of research.
Over the course of three years (2018-2021) we treated over 165 acres of recently harvested forestland with different variations of habitat enhancement. Treatments include:
- Sewing seed of native plants that are particularly valuable to pollinators, either as food or habitat.
- Creation and maintenance of piles of woody debris to serve as nesting sites.
- Altering woody debris management to increase competitiveness of flowering plants.
- Maintenance of small areas of cleared, lightly disturbed top soil for ground nesting species.
- Creation of treatment exclusion zones within the pilot project area for research into the effectiveness of the pilot treatments.
- Pre- and post-treatment species surveys to provide indications of the effectiveness of treatments.
Our ongoing research has resulted in valuable data on the effectiveness and costs of different treatments and have piqued the interest of our partners in the academic community.
After several years of experimentation we have learned a lot about what seems to work and what doesn’t. We are now focused on assessing the impacts of timber management practices, which appear to support native pollinator populations, and standardizing habitat improvement techniques.
In 2019/2020 we shifted the focus of the program from informal to structured experimentation with the intent of identifying cost-effective techniques to increase pollinator species density and diversity in harvest sites. Although we still do multi-acre demonstration installations to use as educational tools, most of our recent work has been focused on the creation and evaluation of discrete test treatments. This includes experiments on methods for increasing forage beneficial to native pollinators. These experimental treatment sites will be monitored for three years in cooperation with partners at Oregon State University and the Oregon Bee Project.
In 2020-2021 we began trial implementation of some standardized post-harvest practices based on the early results of our formal experiments. Harvested in 2019 and 2020 that were deemed suitable received post-harvest pollinator habitat enhancement treatment. These units will be monitored on an ongoing basis along with our experiments sites from 2019.
Using our preliminary results we have been providing planning and installation assistance to other forest landowners interested improving pollinator habitat on their properties as well, including education institutions and non-profit land trusts.
MEET OUR BEE KEEPERS
Jed is project manager for the Hampton Pollinator Project. Based out of our Big Creek office in Clatsop County, Oregon, Jed has been leading the Pollinator Project since 2017.