Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project M085120

    Harvesting beetle-killed lodgepole pine while protecting advanced regeneration and non-pine species
Project lead: Stjernberg, Ernst (Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC))
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
This study addresses the fall-down in mid-term wood supply that is anticipated following the widespread mortality from the current mountain pine beetle outbreak. The study focuses on stands that have the potential to provide timber in the short term while retaining adequate stocking to contribute harvestable volume to the mid-term timber supply (15-50 years from present). The assumption is that mixed species stands and those with sufficient secondary structure can be fully stocked and free growing post-harvest if most or all of the dead pine are removed without damaging the residual trees and the understory trees. In pure pine stands with no or limited understory, the current strategy of clearcut and plant is appropriate. However, in mixed species stands, the secondary structure will be lost if these stand types are clearcut and therefore we need to approach the harvesting of these stands in another way. The use of different harvesting equipment and prescriptions will result in a range of protection levels and harvesting costs. Understanding the levels of protection that can be achieved by different equipment combinations and their associated costs will allow managers additional flexibility to quickly address the present MPB-dominated harvesting operations in the Northern Interior of BC. The results will in general be equally applicable to the Southern Interior of BC as companies there move into more intensive MPB-salvage harvesting practices. The main questions to be answered in this project are: • What harvesting systems and equipment can be used safely and cost effectively to harvest MPB-killed pine while protecting some or all non-pine species, understory and the advanced regeneration? • How do the levels of protection vary between the different harvesting methods? • Will the residual stand result in good survival and release? • What are the harvesting productivities and costs when using these different harvesting methods and equipment? FERIC has begun studying harvesting operations in the Prince George area. These studies include measuring the stand structure before and after harvesting and determining changes in costs as a result of alternative harvesting practices and different stand structures. The knowledge gained during the current trials will greatly increase the effectiveness and scope of the study. We need to repeat these studies over a range of stand conditions for different harvesting equipment in order to create a realistic decision key for forest managers. Such as a tool is needed to make decisions on appropriate harvesting strategies for MPB-killed stands based on stand types, percent pine and available equipment. Trials will initially be focused in the Prince George area, but the study area will expand, as opportunities occur, to include other areas such as Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Smithers, Quesnel, and Williams Lake. Several Licensees have expressed interest and a willingness to provide blocks for the study including the McLeod Lake Indian Band, Industrial Forestry Services (IFS), Winton Global Lumber Ltd., BC Timber Sales, the BCMOFR Small Scale Salvage Program, Canadian Forest Products (Canfor) and Lakeland Mills Ltd. The BCTS, Stuart-Nechako Business Area (Vanderhoof) have committed to including understory protection as a requirement in some of their sales and to make the blocks available to FERIC for monitoring. They are providing a large in-kind contribution to provide training to staff and support throughout the project. FERIC will select study sites to provide a range of stand conditions and contractors with a cross section of equipment. Trials will be done during both summer and winter harvesting seasons to reflect the seasonal differences in tree and site damage that result from harvesting and to determine the effect seasonal conditions can have on harvesting productivity. Treatments will be done in stands containing various amounts (30-70%) of pine and will focus on protecting understory and non-pine species while harvesting MPB-killed pine. Permanent sample plots will be installed in all treatments to assess the stand and site conditions before and after harvesting. Plots will be compatible with growth and yield plots for long-term research by other agencies (i.e. UNBC). Contractors will use their existing equipment to reduce the cost of bringing in specialty equipment. The equipment mix is likely to vary with each contractor but equipment combinations may include hand-falling, harvester/forwarder, feller-buncher/grapple skidders, and others as required and available. We will do productivity studies of all treatments using FERIC’s standard detailed timing methodology for short term studies. Data recorders (MultiDATs) will be installed on all harvesting and processing equipment to monitor shift-level activities and equipment utilization for each treatment. Detailed time studies will be done on all machines involved in the harvesting and processing. Volumes hauled from each study area will be carefully identified and tracked through the weigh scales. Sample scales will be made on site to confirm piece size. The information collected will be used to complete a thorough cost and productivity analysis of the different harvesting methods and identify each specific activity for its proportion of the overall cost. It can be expected that productivities and level of protection will have inverse relationships. Using these relationships will allow a desired level of protection to be associated with a certain level of productivity and cost. This information will then provide managers increased flexibility in managing a variety of scenarios. One of the most important issues of understory protection is the difference in the harvesting costs compared to standard clearcut system. This study will identify those cost differences and will ultimately be useful for calculating cost allowances for stumpage appraisal. It is also important to remember that harvesting that leaves a fully stocked and free-growing residual stand will have lower silviculture costs compared to a clearcut and planted stand, but more importantly, it will be available for harvest sooner increasing the availability of harvestable stands during the projected mid-term fall-down period.


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Updated August 16, 2010 

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