Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project L099003

    Long Term Soil Productivity Study
Project lead: Berch, Shannon (Ministry of Forests and Range)
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
The BC Long Term Soil Productivity (LTSP) study is part of a large, international network dedicated to testing sustainable forest soil management over the full timber rotation. Fully replicated LTSP sites have been installed from 1991-2005 throughout the interior of BC in 4 biogeoclimatic zones with 5 timber species and on calcareous or non-calcareous soils. Throughout North America, there are 62 similar installations all designed to investigate the impacts of soil disturbance on near-term and long-term soil and forest productivity. Plots have received three levels of soil compaction and three levels of organic matter removal before being regenerated with commercial tree species. Measurement of soil properties, understory vegetation, microclimate, and tree productivity occur at scheduled periods throughout the full timber rotation. Findings from this research contribute to the development of our knowledge base and to ongoing development and refinement of forest practice regulations and guidelines and to evaluation of the effectiveness of the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).

The LTSP LTRI attracts researchers from within and outside of BC to work on forest management issues in BC. We currently have collaborators from the Canadian Forest Service, USDA Forest Service, Michigan Technical University, and the University of British Columbia working on these sites because of the treatments and security that the LTSP LTRI provides for their studies.

The LTSP obtained LTRI funding in 2005/6. The LTSP-LTRI is a rotation length study, so maintenance funds are needed on an on-going basis especially in the early years. For 2007/8, we require funds for activities such as re-tagging measurement trees and reinstalling plot signs, microclimate monitoring (equipment maintenance and data collection), assessing and repairing trails and fencing, and brushing competing vegetation.

The LTSP-LTRI supports Theme 3.0 of the BCFSP Sustainability Program: Sustainable Forest Management Indicators, Targets, and Monitoring by providing validation for indicators and thresholds of soil disturbance being used for Resource Stewardship Monitoring through the FRPA Resource Evaluation Program ( and for forest companies involved in sustainable forestry and forest certification. The LTSP-LTRI also supports, to some extent, Theme 4.0 of the Timber Growth and Value Program: Timber losses to environmental and biotic factors (wind, drought, insects, disease, animals, fire), though in our case the potential timber losses are due to management-related issues.

This long-term installation supports the FSP funded project ‘Long Term Soil Productivity Study'. Also funded by FSP and occurring at the SBS installations of the LTSP were FSP projects entitled ‘Ten year soil fauna responses to soil compaction and organic matter removal at Sub-Boreal Spruce LTSP' and 'Impact of retaining woody debris and forest floor habitats on stand level diversity of soil collembola’. Both of these studies will be on-going to assess how the soil mesofauna community responds to disturbance over the long term. Other researchers also use the LTSP installations. For example, Dr. Suzanne Simard and graduate student Francois Teste are using all three IDF-K sites as part of their project ‘Ectomycorrhizae and networks: their role in facilitating Douglas-fir regeneration under water, site and climatic stresses’. Dr. Chuck Bulmer has sampled from the LTSP plots in the BWBS, ICH, and IDF as part of his project on ‘Soil conditions and tree growth in BC forests’. Drs. Deb Dumroese and Marty Jergenson, USDA Forest Service and Michigan Tech University are using IDF-N and ICH sites for a wood stake decomposition study. Dr. Brian Titus, CFS, is using main plots at IDF-N and ICH for wood decomposition study. Dr. Doug Maynard, CFS, is studying tree growth, soil nutrients and decomposition on miniplots associated with IDF-N and ICH sites. Dr. Scott Chang, University of Alberta, has used IDF-N sites for collaborative research on seedling physiology and continues to work with us on tree growth analysis.

Continued maintenance of the LTSP, therefore, will ensure that an array of questions related to forest soil disturbance and productivity over the long term can be answered
Contact: Berch, Shannon, (250) 952-4122,

Updated August 16, 2010 

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