Canadian Forest Service Publications

Using spatially explicit simulations to explore size distribution and spacing of regenerating areas produced by wildfires: recommendations for designing harvest agglomerations for the Canadian boreal forest. 2007. Belleau, A.; Bergeron, Y.; Leduc, A.; Gauthier, S.; Fall, A. For. Chron. 83(1): 72-83.

Year: 2007

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26986

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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It is now recognized that in the Canadian boreal forest, timber harvesting activities have replaced wildfires as the main stand-replacing disturbance. Differences in landscape patterns derived from these two sources of disturbance have, however, raised concerns that the way forest harvesting has been dispersed is potentially shifting patterns away from the natural range. In the context of natural disturbance-based management, we used a spatially explicit model designed to capture general fire regimes in order to quantify temporal variability associated with regenerating areas (burnt areas of 25 years or younger), and to develop strategic objectives for harvest agglomeration sizes and dispersion.We first evaluated temporal variability in the proportion of stands younger than 100 years (assumed to be even-aged stands) for various fire regimes (seven fire cycles: 50 to 400 years, and three mean fires sizes: 3000, 15 000 and 60 000 ha). Secondly, we quantified the size distribution and dispersion of regenerating areas for each fire regime. As expected by theoretical fire frequencies and size distributions, the importance of even-aged stands at the forest management unit level was found to decrease with longer fire cycles. However, the temporal variability associated with these proportions is shown to increase with mean fire size. It was also observed that the size distribution and dispersion of regenerating areas was primarily influenced by mean fire size. Based on these observations, natural disturbance-based management objectives were formulated, providing guidelines on harvest agglomeration size and dispersion.