Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project L109176

    The Coastal Forest Chronosequence Sites
Project lead: J.A. Tony Trofymow (Canadian Forest Service)
Contributing Authors: Outerbridge, Renata A.; Trofymow, J.A. (Tony); Lalumiere, A.; Ryan, Michael; Fraser, David F.; Marshall, Valin G.; He, Fangliang
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
The coastal forests of British Columbia contain stands that have the highest recorded live tree biomass concentrations and are amongst the most productive and biologically diverse in B.C as well as Canada. As new values for forests have evolved, so has domestic and international scrutiny of logging of these forests increased. In response to this issue, in 1992 the Canadian Forest Service, Pacific and Yukon Region, initiated the Coastal Forest Chronosequence (CFC) project, to study the changes caused by converting coastal old-growth to second-growth forests in the Coastal Western Hemlock (CWH) zone of southern Vancouver Island. Questions to be addressed by the project were: (1) how does conversion affect ecosystem carbon levels and cycling, (2) how does conversion affect ecosystem nutrient capital and hence potential site productivity. (3) how does conversion impact species and forest structural diversity, and (4) how does diversity recover in older second-growth stands. The Scope section describes the CFC project site locations.

A total of 18 studies were carried during the initial phase of the project (1992-2000), grouped into studies of ecosystem structure, processes and biodiversity. Initial work (CFS-BC FRDA and NRCan PERD programs) to locate, establish and measure the CFC plots (10 sites, 40 plots) was done with the objectives of measuring (1993-1995) how the amounts and distribution of mass, carbon, and nutrients on a site change during post-harvest succession and how closely they recover to pre-harvest levels. Work on these sites expanded (FRDA and FRBC funding) to stand structure studies examining differences in coarse woody debris, overstory, and canopy gap distributions (1996-1998). The C, nutrient and structure studies were conducted in 1993-1997 on four east (VWS, VWN, KOK, NAN) and four west (REN, RGC, NIT, KLA) island sites. More detailed process studies from 1995-2000 (with FRDA, Env. Can Greenplan, and PERD funding) included investigations of age and site differences in transformations of carbon pools, microenvironments, and detrital carbon fluxes. More detailed biodiversity studies, (Greenplan, NSERC and FRBC, funding) were also done on the abundance and diversity of various groups of soil mesofauna in decaying stumps or forest floor, earthworms, ground dwelling carabid beetles and spiders, ectomycorrhizal fungi, mushrooms, salamanders, canopy lichens, and vascular plants. The more detailed process and biodiversity studies were conducted on three intensive study sites on the east island (VWS, VWN, KOK). A recent synthesis of these studies identified potential attributes and indicators indicative of stand succession and recovery and for distinguishing mature and older stages of Douglas-fir stand development.

To date 34 papers or reports, 22 conference proceeding papers, and 5 MSc or PhD theses have been published and 45 oral or poster presentations and two workshops (one joint with the BCMOF) completed. Additional papers and reports are in preparation. A web site describing the project in more detail and a complete list of publications can be viewed at

Continuing work on these sites (described in more detail under project linkages) concern examination of the temporal changes in total ecosystem C stocks in both the east- and west- island second-growth and old-growth stands as well and changes in ectomycorrhizal and microbioal abundance and diversity with partial retention at one east-island site (KOK) where the CFC plots serve as benchmarks. Micrometerological measurements are continuing at three sites (VWS, VWN, KOK). Overall CFC objectives and current work therefore address Timber Growth and Value Program topics related to (1.1) microclimate and stand growth and (1.3) mortality in old stands as well as Sustainability Program topics related to (3.2) development of fine filter indicator targets and thresholds (eg. ectomycorrhizal fungi) and relating those to coarse filter indicators (stand structures) and (1.8) understanding how forests change during second-growth succession.

BC-X-418 Re-establishment of ectomycorrhizae from refugia bordering regenerating Douglas-fir stands on Vancouver Island
BC-X-421 Successional changes in plant species diversity in forest chronosequences on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia


CFS Information Report BC-X-418 (0.7Mb)
CFS Information Report BC-X-421 (5.3Mb)

To view PDF documents you need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free from the Adobe Web Site.

Updated August 19, 2010 

Search for other  FIA reports or other Ministry of Forests and Range publications.

Please direct questions or comments regarding publications to