Canadian Forest Service Publications

Science-based responsible resource development: Lessons learned from two Canadian success stories. 2015. Lapointe, R.; Langor, D.; Dabros, A.; Pinno, B.; Spence, J.; Pyper, M.; Hirsch, K. XIV World Forestry Congress, Durban, South Africa, 7-11 September 2015. 8 p.

Year: 2015

Available from: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36401

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Abstract

Much of Canada’s natural resource development (i.e., forestry, oil and gas, and mining activities) occurs in the boreal forest. These industrial activities lead to extensive and intensive land isturbances and complex ecological impacts. Mitigation of impacts requires science-based integrated resource management based on a thorough understanding of how boreal ecosystems are structured and function, as exemplified in boreal Alberta, Canada.

In 1997 the forest industry, the Canadian and Alberta governments, and several research organizations collaborated to build the Ecosystem Management Emulating Natural Disturbance (EMEND) partnership in the western boreal region in Canada. EMEND supports a large-scale, long-term research project that fosters a sustainable ecosystem-based approach to boreal forest management. EMEND research applied a range of innovative harvest treatments to four merchantable forest cover-types and compares responses to the natural disturbance of wildfire. More recently, in response to a growing demand for better tools for managing forest restoration and establishment after oil sands extraction, the Canadian government began a Land Reclamation research program. With scope similar to EMEND, various reclamation treatments are being tested to determine conditions that most closely emulate natural forest development. Impacts of harvesting and reclamation treatments on forest regeneration, succession trajectories, biodiversity, nutrient cycling and operational costs, are being measured in these two initiatives. Early results show that forest biodiversity recovers more quickly toward pre-harvest conditions after partial retention harvest than after traditional clear-cuts (EMEND) and certain soil treatments result in more natural plant communities (the Land Reclamation project). Lessons learned have been adopted operationally by the forest and oil sands industries to improve environmental performance, operational efficiencies, and market access.

Plain Language Summary

Most of Canada’s natural resource development (i.e., forestry, oil and gas, and mining activities) occurs in the boreal forest. These industrial activities lead to extensive land disturbances that have complex ecological effects on the boreal forest. To address this challenge, leaders in natural resource sectors have come together to create an interdisciplinary, science-based approach to manage resources in boreal Alberta, Canada. In 1997 the forest industry, the Canadian and Alberta governments, and several research organizations collaborated to build the Ecosystem Management Emulating Natural Disturbance (EMEND) partnership. EMEND supports a large-scale, long-term research project that fosters a sustainable ecosystem-based approach to boreal forest management. More recently, in response to a growing demand for better tools for managing forest restoration after oil sands extraction, the Canadian government began a land reclamation research program. Impacts of harvesting and reclamation treatments on forest regeneration, succession trajectories, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, and operational costs are being measured in these two initiatives. Lessons learned from both studies have been adopted operationally by the forest and oil sands industries to improve environmental performance, operational efficiencies, and market access. Through integrated and collaborative efforts, and the transparent use of science, Canada is demonstrating its commitment to the stewardship of its forests.

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