Climate Change and the Bioeconomy: Finding Silviculture Solutions for 21st Century

March 14, 2022

By: The Working Forest Staff

CANADIAN WOOD FIBE CENTRE NRC — This fibre fact provides an overview of how salvage logging can provide an opportunity for the forest industry to supply Canada’s bioeconomy with wood fibre as well as regenerate a forest.

Not all might be lost when a major natural disturbance strikes a forest. As climate change begins to intensify, Canada’s forests will experience frequent disturbances. Such events equate to a loss of habitat and timber, and are often a large silvicultural expense. Researchers with Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Université Laval investigated if they could turn a “disaster” into an opportunity.

After a spruce budworm outbreak within a boreal-conifer forest of eastern Canada, they concluded that utilizing the un-merchantable and dead standing timber for forest biomass could improve forest regeneration, decrease silviculture costs and help fight climate change.

Since 1948, Canada’s mean temperature has increased by 1.7 °C, which is twice the rate of the corresponding increase in the global mean temperature. As this trend continues, Canadian forests will experience more extreme weather and environmental events.

To deal with the consequences of such events, forest managers will need new silvicultural approaches to continue to manage forests sustainably. Forest biomass harvesting is an innovative silviculture technique currently used to supply Canada’s growing bioeconomy through the harvest of untraditional timber sizes and quality.

Using this technique may also enable foresters to safely and economically renew forests that have been affected by natural disturbances.

Within the boreal forest of Quebec’s North Shore Region, a spruce budworm outbreak caused severe mortality to most of the spruce and balsam fir trees. This outbreak created a forest condition with a large amount of dead woody material left standing and fallen on the forest floor. This resulted in a high fire hazard and a forest that is difficult to regenerate.

CWFC and Université Laval researchers used this forest to evaluate if a sustainable forest biomass harvest could have an effect on the:

  1. density of natural regeneration
  2. quantity and quality of suitable microsites for tree planting
  3. financial cost of site preparation and tree planting
  4. carbon balance of silviculture scenarios when forest biomass is used as a substitute for fossil fuel energy production

The study compared two timber utilization methods within a clearcut harvesting system:

  1. Traditional utilization: harvest to the provincial timber utilization standards
  2. Biomass utilization: harvest of degraded conifer trees and tree parts that do not meet lumber standards, as well as intolerant hardwoods

Data was collected post-harvest and before any site preparation or tree planting occurred.

See more HERE.


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