Canadian Forest Service Publications

Forest floor recovery index: Central Mixedwood Subregion. 2017. Hoffman, D.R.; Shaw, C.H.; Kull, S.J.; Voicu, M.F.; McNalty, C. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, Alberta.

Year: 2017

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 38537

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Mark record


The Forest Floor Recovery Index (FFRI) aims to assess ecosystem recovery using changes in forest floor properties during stand development following reclamation. Modeled predictions from the Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Sector were used to generate recommendations for the tree biomass inputs required to build natural forest floors. This FFRI manual presents a simplified forest floor classification system, using photographs and descriptions to illustrate examples of 19 forest floor types, differentiated according to composition and dominant horizons. The manual provides users with guidance in data compilation, determination of an index of recovery through comparison of site data with reference data, and an assessment of the tree biomass inputs needed for natural forest floor development. This approach provides a useful tool for monitoring recovery of forest sites that have been disturbed and subsequently reclaimed following oil sands development activities.

Plain Language Summary

The forest floor is made up of dead tree biomass (for examples, foliage, branches and tree trunks) on the ground, that has partly decayed. It plays an important role in the function of forests because it stores carbon, recycles nutrients and is the habitat for much of a forest’s biodiversity. The Forest Floor Recovery Index (FFRI) is a system that uses changes in forest floor properties over the life of a forest (about 100 years) to represent ecosystem recovery following reclamation in the oil sands region. Forest floor thickness was measured and forest floors classified at 93 sites within the Central Mixedwood subregion of Alberta. A forest carbon computer model was used to give an idea of the amount of tree biomass that must be added to the ground to build natural forest floors. The FFRI manual uses photographs to provide a simple forest floor classification system and provides the steps needed to calculate an Index of Recovery. The FFRI guide is important because no other method exists to determine if forest floors are being restored after reclamation following oil sands development activities. It also provides a method that could be used in other parts of Canada.