Canadian Forest Service Publications

Salvage harvesting of fire-killed stands in Northern Quebec: Analysis of bioenergy and ecological potentials and constraints. 2013. Barrette, J.; Thiffault, E.; Paré, D. J. Sci. Technol. For. Products Processes (J-FOR) 3:16-25.

Year: 2013

Available from: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35704

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)


The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential for and constraints on salvage harvesting of fire-killed boreal stands in Northern Quebec (Canada) for bioenergy production in the context of ecosystem-based management. Results indicate that stand mass and energy content can be estimated from tree species and diameter at breast height. In addition, forest practices should prioritize salvage harvesting of stands that include a high proportion of jack pine to optimize bioenergy production potential, but great care should be taken to select those with relatively low levels of downed coarse woody debris and to preserve natural regeneration during operations. On the other hand, the current low gains in terms of energy yield for stand types such as black spruce should be balanced against future gains in terms of re-establishment of productive stands in currently non-regenerated areas. Another possibility is to leave these types of stand untouched and preserve them as fire legacies to contribute to biodiversity protection.

Plain Language Summary

The demand for forest biomass for bioenergy production is on the rise. Logging residues (tree branches and crowns) and wood industry residues (bark, sawdust and black liquor) are currently the main sources of supply. However, forest disturbances such as fire could make large amounts of biomass available. In these burned forests, foresters can rapidly salvage trees to preserve their physical and chemical properties for the manufacture of products such as sawtimber. However, maintaining these properties over time is limited to 1 to 2 years for sawtimber and 3 years for pulpwood. After this period, the properties of the wood change, making it unfit for the production of these products. Nevertheless, this wood remains an adequate source of biomass for several years.

In stands where the time limit for extracting traditional products has expired, researchers assessed the potential for biomass production as well as any constraints (e.g. preservation of biodiversity) that limit salvage logging in these stands. Their studies focused on jack pine and black spruce in the boreal forest. The results indicate that these stands can provide biomass of suitable quality for bioenergy. It is possible to estimate the energy content of the stands, based on species. Jack pine has the best yield potential. The researchers also mentioned that during salvage operations, care must be taken to protect regeneration and leave debris that is already on the ground. Lastly, because the energy production capacity of black spruce is lower, it is necessary to verify if it would be better to leave the trees in place to maintain biodiversity rather than harvest them.

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