Canadian Forest Service Publications

Twenty years of long-term ecological research in dry forests of southern British Columbia: challenges, opportunities, and successes. 2014. Arsenault, A.; Klenner, W.; Vyse, A. Botany 92: 620.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36315

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/cjb-2014-0144

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The dry forests of southern British Columbia play an important role in First Nations culture, provide many of the commodities that society has relied on since the arrival of European settlers in the mid-1850s, and sustain diverse and often rare flora and fauna. Management of these forests is complex, balancing conflicting objectives for timber, livestock forage, forest fuels, recreation opportunities, and habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna. We describe three categories of long-term ecological research (retrospective, large scale silviculture experiments, and natural experiments) that are being applied in the southern Interior of British Columbia to better understand the ecology of dry forests and provide management options for these ecosystems. The Opax Mt. experiment was initiated in 1993 to evaluate alternatives to conventional partial-cutting and address concerns about wildlife habitat, regeneration, and the effects of western spruce budworm. The experimental design includes different patterns and intensity of harvesting, and is complemented with retrospective studies on disturbance history and stands dynamics, and with natural experiments created by extensive wildfires, and mountain pine beetle outbreaks. We present results from these projects to illustrate the challenges and benefits associated with long-term studies. We conclude that five key factors contribute to success: (i) a robust treatment design addressing ecological and applied issues, (ii) identifying opportunities where linked experiments allow for project evolution, (iii) clear linkage to operational practices and regulations, (iv) a multi-faceted extension program, and (v) a project “champion” to maintain infrastructure and ensure the project remains viable.

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