Vegetation and land management is a critical part of any forestry project.
Properly managing the vegetation on forestry sites not only protects your valuable investment from unwanted growth and forest fires, it also ensures the land and soil remain healthy for generations to come. While companies have been using a combination of chemicals and machinery for years, these are becoming less and less acceptable in terms of cost and environmental impact.
The solution is simple: Forestry Sheep.
Sheep are grazers. They will eat dense, woody vegetation like their browsing goat brethren - but have a more ferocious appetite for grass and weeds on the ground, acting more like lawnmowers than bushwackers.
Sheep will effectively control many common weeds, including many grasses and weeds. Once they acquire a taste for it, sheep will consume large quantities of unwanted vegetation and a herd of 1500 can work through 5-10 hectares per day.
The additional benefit of using Sheep is that they also help regenerate the land, improve the soil, and fertilize new growth for a healthier ecosystem.
Forests for Communities:
S/G works to develop sustainable forest management plans so that all community members can enjoy the forest and its benefits for generations to come. We believe communities benefit from a “working forest.”
First Nations traditionally don’t use herbicides and often provide feedback on where in the forest they don’t want herbicides sprayed. The sheep are a great way for us to contribute to this effort. Competing vegetation can cause challenges for proper tree growth, so we use sheep in sensitive areas to eat through the vegetation that needs to be removed.
A well managed forest can sustainably provide economic benefits while integrating habitat management, water, recreation, traditional cultural uses and visual impacts.
In forest management, most stands need tending or pre-commercial thinning for 10-20 years after stand establishment. Often these early thinning operations are neglected because they are expensive. The forest owner has to wait many years before they can see the benefit of the investment. Sheep grazing can save on costs for early thinning operations. This also provides many other benefits such as land regeneration and forest fire prevention. At appropriate herding densities, sheep rarely damage Pine/Spruce seedlings.
Because of the sheep’s feeding preference, it is possible to apply this grazing system even in very young regenerating forest stands. Trees harvested during tending and pre-commercial thinning are usually left in the forest to maintain nutrient levels of the site. Grazing can have similar impacts as tending and pre-commercial thinning, but it’s a more natural way of managing the forest. Sheep will browse deciduous seedlings and saplings and in this way they simulate natural thinning of the stand. Like this, grazing reduces competition between the trees and has a positive impact on nutrient cycling which is beneficial for the growth of the remaining trees.
In southern Europe, Canada and dry parts of the US, sheep and goats are used to keep fire prone vegetation low in fire breaks. With ongoing climate change, forest fires are an increasing threat both in these region and also in northern Europe.
The demand for sheep in Alberta is rising exponentially and S/G is prepared to meet that demand through our network of ranchers, herders and animals.
In the solar industry, 8000 megawatts are currently awaiting approvals to tie into the grid. Every megawatt requires 10 acres. That means if all of these projects come online in the next 10 years they will be covering 80,000 acres. Every acre that needs to be maintained by sheep will require at least one animal per acre. This would require an additional 80,000 sheep in Alberta for Land Management purposes.
Most forestry companies are currently using sheep as an experimental tool to control grass around newly planted blocks. The result of these experiments have determined sheep grazing is much more economical than hand held mechanical maintenance or chemical spray. As forestry companies expand their sheep operations across more of their cut blocks and as more restrictions on chemicals come into play, there will be a growing demand for sheep. Every 300 ha in Forestry requires 1500 sheep. If all Forestry contracts (approx. 20) across Alberta increase by 300 ha each, that additional 6000 ha will require 30,000 more sheep in our local market.
S/G has the largest network of ranchers and herders in Alberta. Our trusted relationships allow us to access the right number of animals, no matter the size of the project.
Working with Us
Forestry Sheep is committed to providing a vegetation control solution that is good for your land and the community around it.
As an industry committed to environmental responsibility, we understand that sustainable weed control is a top priority for Forestry companies to both protect and regenerate the land as safely as possible.
S/G works exclusively with major forestry projects. We understand that your facility, your staff, and your reputation is of utmost importance. We take great care to ensure the land management plan is understood and approved - with clear lines of communication for all stakeholders. The safety of our people and our animals is our top priority. We are fully WCB certified and carry $5M in liability insurance. We also maintain strict COVID-19 protocols, with daily health checks in our morning safety meetings.
Our standard procedures also include the development and execution of a Bio Security Plan. We recognize the potential risks in bringing sheep & goats onto lands with wildfire zones, and we take great care to identify the safest established grazing ranges and water sources to mitigate that risk, and provide standard reporting as required.
Having worked in the environmental industry on some of the biggest initiatives in Canada, we recognize the value of the projects we are part of and how critical it is to have trustworthy partners. Our team is made up of a balanced combination of shepherding skills and business acumen - we understand the stakes and never take that responsibility lightly.
We look forward to working with you!
Who We Are
About Our Team
Forestry Sheep is part of the S/G Group of Companies dedicated to providing chemical-free land management solutions for public and private landowners. We believe using animals instead of chemicals is not only a more sustainable solution, it is also more effective.
Chief Animal Officer
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