Canadian Forest Service Publications

Exploring forest productivity at an early age after fire: a case study at the northern limit of commercial forests in Quebec. 2015. Van Bogaert, R.; Gauthier, S.; Raulier, F.; Saucier, J.-P.; Boucher, D.; Robitaille, A.; Bergeron, Y. Can. J. For. Res. 45:579-593.

Year: 2015

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35937

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/cjfr-2014-0273

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Interest in northern forests is increasing worldwide for both timber production and climate change mitigation. Studies exploring forest productivity at an early age after fire and its determining factors are greatly needed. We studied forest productivity, defined as the combined quality of stocking and growth, of 116 10- to 30-year-old postfire sites. The sites were spread over a 90 000 km2 area north of the Quebec commercial forestry limit and were dominated by Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P. and Pinus banksiana Lamb. Seventy-two percent of our sites were classified as unproductive, mainly because of poor growth. Because growth was mostly determined by climatic factors, afforestation alone may not be sufficient to increase stand productivity in our study area. In addition, our results suggest that P. banksiana on dry sites may be less resilient to fire than previously thought, presumably because of poor site quality and climate. Overall, this is one of the first studies to explore productivity issues at an early age in natural northern forests, and the analysis scheme that defines forest productivity as the result of growth and stocking could provide a useful tool to identify similar issues elsewhere.

Plain Language Summary

In a post fire forest productivity study, 72% of the sites studied were classified as unproductive mainly because of low growth rates. These sites are located in a vast 90,000 km2 area north of the allowable cut boundary for Quebec’s commercial forests. These forests are dominated by black spruce and jack pine and were ravaged by fires between 10 and 30 years ago.

This study also shows that jack pine growing on dry sites in the same area may be less fire resilient than anticipated, probably because of poor site conditions and climate.

The researchers involved in this study suggest the use of an interesting tool to carry out early assessments of productivity problems. The tool, which can be used for other types of forests, assesses productivity on the basis of tree growth and stand density.