Canadian Forest Service Publications
Forest Floor Recovery Index: A tool to assess forest recovery after reclamation. 2018. Shaw, C.H.; Hoffman, D.R.; Voicu, M.F.; Kull, S.J.; McNalty, C. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, Alberta. Information Report NOR-X-427. 38 p.
Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 38992
Availability: PDF (download)
In the oil sands region of Alberta, governments and industry have asked for tools to assess the recovery of forest ecosystems after resource extraction and land reclamation. In this report, we describe the rationale, data collection, and development of the Forest Floor Recovery Index (FFRI), a system that uses forest floor characteristics in natural stands as a reference condition to judge success of ecosystem recovery after reclamation. Data collected for nine ecosite types and five stand-age classes in the Central Mixedwood Subregion of Alberta were used to develop the FFRI. Nineteen forest floor classes are described that users can classify on reclaimed sites and then use to calculate an FFRI score that indicates how well the forest floor is recovering by comparison to the reference condition. Woody material is important to building forest floors, and recommended application rates of woody material are provided for sites with low FFRI scores. The FFRI is available as a field manual and an app. The FFRI has potential for application in other parts of Alberta and Canada to assess recovery of forested land after reclamation.
Plain Language Summary
In the oil sands region of Alberta, governments and industry have asked for tools to assess the recovery of forest ecosystems after resource extraction and land reclamation. The forest floors, which are part of forest ecosystems, are made up of dead tree biomass (for example, foliage, branches, and tree trunks) on the ground that has partly decayed. The forest floor 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. This publication describes the development of the Forest Floor Recovery Index (FFRI) and the FFRI manual and app. It includes background information, sampling design and analysis, and methods for predicting the amount of wood that should be added to reclaimed sites to help with recovery of forest floors. The 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. At 118 sites within the Central Mixedwood subregion of Alberta, the thickness of the forest floor was measured and the forest floors were classified. A computer model was used to estimate the amount of tree biomass that must be added to the ground to build natural forest floors. The FFRI system 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