Let’s be clear: forests burn regardless of human presence. Ecological research has revealed there is a natural rhythm to the cycle of forest fires.
We have built our towns, cities, industries, roads, and critical infrastructure in the middle of the ever-present forest. We got ourselves in the path of a regularly occurring natural destructive cycle.
When a forest burns, an immense amount of energy is released. Uncontrolled, this energy has enormous destructive potential. To give you an idea, the 2018 fires in British Columbia released enough energy to power all of Canada for an entire year.
In the face of climate change, natural cycles of forest wildfires are being affected in ways we don’t yet understand. We must therefore prepare our communities in Canada as best we can through improved forest management techniques.
Besides, utilizing the byproducts from these sustainable and responsible forest management techniques—namely biomass—can bring about economic opportunities, jobs, cleaner air, energy independence, and local food production. It also reduces reliance on fossil fuels in small communities that must use diesel generators to make electricity.
FPInnovations produced the video, The Forest Will Burn, that proposes a novel strategy to mitigate the destructive power of forest wildfires while harnessing the energy for constructive purposes. Visit the FPInnovations YouTube channel to view the video.
To learn more about how you can apply this strategy in your community, you may reach out to Christoph Schilling at [email protected].
By Tony Kryzanowski
Over the past 15 to 35 years, the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) and Canadian Forest Service (CFS) have established applied field trials, tests and studies with ecological and technical development objectives aimed at addressing a variety of forest management issues.
Today, these are becoming legacy sites with the objective of protecting the investment and infrastructure for continued knowledge development and adoption.
They were developed in partnership with industry and government stakeholders with the intention of bringing research to life, with practical applications to advance ecological and economic efficiencies.
“The knowledge gathered from these sites is worth preserving and passing on to the next generation of researchers and forest practitioners. The goal is to learn from the past to move to the future in an effort to help industry address evolving forest management challenges like climate change, as well as sustainable, species-specific, timber supplies,” says Derek Sidders, Program Manager, Technology Development and Transfer at CWFC.
This article provides a general overview of ‘forest practices’ legacy sites. The research conducted on these sites is issues-driven, based on input from industry, with realistic short term and long term objectives, and with the intention of operational adoption.
Follow-up articles will highlight some notable studies and developing field site networks. They will show how in some cases discoveries made on these sites and subsequent application in the working forest have unquestionably changed how we manage our forest resource for the better today.
Here are some examples of forest practices that are being developed as legacy sites managed with stakeholder support under the CWFC/CFS umbrella.
Addressing the reforestation backlog and subsequent vegetation management – Changing forest management practices resulted in a need for forest replenishment beyond depending on natural regeneration. So many forest practices development sites were established to test and verify a variety of reforestation methodologies that are now standard practice across Canada. It then became necessary to address the issue of vegetation management to minimize growing stock competition. Work on legacy sites helped to develop mechanical and chemical treatments.
Improving the health of dense fire-origin stands with pre-commercial thinning – In this instance, legacy site development investigated pre-commercial thinning techniques so regenerating and dense fire-origin stands were less vulnerable to pathogens and fire, while increasing individual stem growth by reducing densities and selecting prominent crop trees. The goal was to also shrink stand crop rotation intervals and increase forest health. CWFC/CFS offered industry various new tools and techniques like mechanical strip thinning to achieve these objectives.
Partial mixed wood forest harvest to emulate natural disturbance – CWFC legacy sites also include the practice of variable retention within mixed wood forests of primarily spruce and aspen by emulating natural disturbance to enhance species mix, biodiversity and stand health while improving the overall commercial value of these stands.
Testing the value of commercial thinning – The practice of commercial thinning of pure softwood stands to improve overall stand health is included in CWFC legacy sites. Spacing was improved to increase individual stem size, capture mortality, and reduce second entry time lags through multiple stand entries, maximizing volume, stem size and minimizing access costs. Natural regeneration of the tolerant spruce has also been successfully demonstrated with advantageous micro-sites created along access corridors.
Investigating careful logging techniques in mixed wood stands – Industry partnered with the CWFC/CFS and other R & D proponents to investigate ways to selectively and systematically harvest mature hardwood while protecting immature and important commercial softwood species like white spruce growing in the understorey using techniques that also enhanced their growth potential.
Managing the mountain pine beetle and recovering merchantable timber from partially impacted pure and mixed wood stands – A more recent initiative took advantage of numerous previous legacy site developments to investigate, at an operational scale, how to economically recover infested commercial timber from sites only partially impacted by the mountain pine beetle, while also reducing stand vulnerability to future beetle attacks and rehabilitating moderate to heavily impacted stands.
For more information about the work and findings from these forest practices legacy sites, contact Derek Sidders
at [email protected].
Do you want to know more about forest-fuel removal treatments for forest operations? Or, improving OSB fire performance in new constructions? The Research Library is a unique digital collection of over 10,000 documents that span the gamut of forest industry research from fundamental to pioneering.
The new search engine has been redesigned to include searches of the full text of reports instead of relying only on keywords or abstracts to find documents. The user-friendly interface also offers a quick-start option that targets searches by forest industry sector and top authors in addition to keywords. A search by publication/latest editions is also a new feature. The Research Library search feature is located on the FPInnovations landing page and directly at www.library.fpinnovations.ca
Membership has its privileges
FPInnovations members have exclusive privileges to download reports that are restricted to their sectors. For example, a pulp and paper member can download a restricted pulp and paper report, but not a forest operations report. As the trend of different sectors collaborating on projects grows, more reports will be available to several sectors. A one-time password-protected online registration will be necessary for members to access the restricted part of the database.
Who else can use the Research Library?
A large portion of free reports and documents are searchable by the public; however, they do not have access to documents reserved for members only.
The database will eventually be expanded to include non-printed information, such as webinars.
New Amazon virtual bookstore
Timber cruising, forest inventory, and other related data collection methods that help in managing forest operations and logging activities are necessary but expensive, mainly because conventional ground methods are labour intensive. On the other hand, projected labour shortages in the forestry sector are driving the industry to reduce its reliance on operators and field staff. That’s why the exploration and demonstration of new sensor technologies and methodologies such as laser light detection and ranging (LiDAR) are attracting more and more attention.
LiDAR to the rescue
Advanced sensor and modelling technologies can facilitate forest inventory and compliance monitoring. One of these technologies, namely LiDAR, has been leading the way towards facilitating traditional ground surveying.
The capabilities of new mobile LiDAR technology have been particularly noteworthy when it comes to precision inventory. FPInnovations pursued testing mobile LiDAR devices in the forest environment with respect to their portability, their high precision data points, as well as the development of automatic detection algorithms.
Promising test results
The FPInnovations trials showed that mobile LiDAR could be an accurate tool for extracting single tree level attributes such as stem location and diameter at breast height (DBH). Recent tests indicate that mobile LiDAR could in fact be an efficient tool for enhanced forest inventory and stand structure characterization.
In certain cases, the research indicated that individual tree DBH estimates from mobile LiDAR data acquired over plots or transects can reach a 2-centimitre accuracy level. This makes the DBH estimates well within operational requirements.
The average accuracy of LiDAR-based estimation depends on several factors such as species composition, sensor moving trajectory, understory complexity, and laser scanning effective distance. To address these variables, FPInnovations is interested in open collaborations and in developing best practices of data acquisition and better modeling algorithms. This could minimize the impact of the variable factors in more complex forest conditions, therefore achieving consistent estimations. The accurate sampling of trees and their DBHs obtained through mobile LiDAR technologies allows us to calculate basal area (BA) per hectare, which is another important stand attribute. The preliminary research outcomes have been summarized in FPInnovations’ technical reports over the past few years:
Visit www.library.fpinnovations.ca to download these reports, and for more information, contact Jili Li, Remote Sensing Scientist, at [email protected].
On the Cover:
With equipment such as this Eltec harvester, Freya Logging, based in Prince George, B.C., has proven itself to be a versatile and diversified log harvesting contractor, handy attributes to have during a period of industry transition. Freya has demonstrated a willingness to take on a range of logging assignments in the B.C. Interior. Read all about the outfit beginning on page 8 of this issue (Cover photo courtesy of Freya Logging).
Win/win deal = getting more fibre out of the forest
A new fibre supply agreement in B.C.’s Cariboo region is leading to better forest resource utilization for the Esk’etemc First Nation, and more fibre for wood pellet producer, Pinnacle Renewable Energy.
Freya Logging tackles range of harvesting jobs
Freya Logging has proven to be a versatile and diversified logging contractor in the B.C. Interior, taking on a range of harvesting work, including commercial thinning, with a variety of equipment.
Making a mark with mill upgrade
A major investment in Alberta’s Foothills Forest Products is being described as a pivotal moment in the sawmill’s history.
Not your typical wood pellets …
The new Skeena Bioenergy plant in B.C. is not a typical wood pellet operation—using proven European equipment, it is turning out high quality wood pellets from a feedstock of Western Hemlock, not SPF.
Training for work—and a career—in the forest industry
A recently developed program in northwestern Ontario is helping to train First Nations members as equipment operators for work—and a career—in the forest industry.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) and FPInnovations.
The Last Word
Tony Kryzanowski notes that a recent wood biomaterial supply agreement with a major player in the global cosmetics industry is massively important to the forestry sector.