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By Brad Constantine on August 14 2017
Being a summer student in operation with Tolko Prairie Woodlands, a huge portion of the work we do is Riparian Management Areas and Visual Sensitive Area boundary ribboning. This task is extremely important when preparing a block for the contractors to begin work. The reason that we focus a lot on these boundary lines is to ensure the harvesting practices are not interrupting the land around waterbodies to maintain erosion protection naturally and to provide habitat placement that many animals rely on being there. We also do visual sensitive boundaries to protect areas that enhance the scenery value in a particular area. For instance, if there is a lake that is widely used by the public we put a boundary on it.
The benefits of boundary ribboning from a student position really aids in getting out into to the field with hands on experience. Ribboning allows you to work on compassing, your judgement of distance in the bush and really allows you to see the composition of the forest in a first person perspective. Having students on the ground helps our supervisors and the planners with a second look in the block for things that are important such as nesting sites and dens of various birds and animals.
Another good perspective of ribboning is what you find out in the bush. Once, I was ribboning with Brett (one of the student I work with) and we had to put a 200 metre buffer on a block that was soon to be harvested. We have seen plenty of deer in the area and as we were running our lines through the bush, Brett stumbled over some woody debris and behind it revealed whitetail deer skull from a coyote kill from the previous winter. It was exceptionally cool that we found this and the fact the one of the points of the racks looks to have been gnawed off by a predator of some sort. Most of the time when we work the boundaries, it is very hot out in the woods. By mid afternoon, you’re exhausted from the sun but having a vast supply of raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries growing in amongst the rest of the ground vegetation is very refreshing to find and consume.
All in all, my personal opinion of ribboning is it is a task that is a great foundation to begin gaining the much needed experience. The bonus with ribboning is that you can always go back and fix your line if you mess up as it is a quick fix if you get to close to a boundary. Even from the beginning of the summer, I have seen a huge improvement in myself when putting in a boundary line. At the start, I was second guessing my distances and whether I was tying ribbons close enough so you can see a nice straight line. Now it almost seems second nature.