Forest Investment Account

Abstract of FII Project R02-26

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Impacts of Mountain Pine Beetle Attack on Ecosystem Dynamics

Author(s): Hawkes, Brad (Canadian Forest Service)
Subject: Forestry
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program


Mountain pine beetle (MPB) and fire are the two major natural disturbance agents for lodgepole pine in the IDF, SBS, SBPS, ESSF, and MS zones of BC. MPB-induced tree mortality strongly influences forest dynamics, both as a natural thinning agent, and by changing the fuel loading in stands, thus affecting fire behaviour. To accurately project impacts of MPB on lodgepole pine ecosystems, models of forest stand dynamics, MPB hazard, fuels succession, and fire behavior potential need to be linked together. Empirical data are needed on levels of mortality, growth of residual stands, fuel loading and regeneration to effectively calibrate and test the models in a variety of stands affected by MPB.
This report covers the second year of the study continuing the work of Dr. Terry Shore (CFS-PFC) who investigated the effects of the 1980's MPB epidemic on lodgepole pine forests.
In 1987/88, study sites were established in 30, 6, and 5 stands respectively in the Cariboo, Kamloops, and Nelson Forest Regions. Due to subsequent logging and wildfire, we were only able to resample 15 Cariboo stands, 4 in Kamloops and 1 in the Nelson Forest Regions in 2001.
In the current reporting year of 2002, new study sites (10 and 5 respectively) have been established in stands in the current MPB outbreak in Tweedsmuir and Manning Provincial Parks.
Preliminary results have been used in determining the annual allowable cut currently being re-assessed for the timber supply area in the Williams Lake area. Initial results have been used to prioritize and schedule the remaining salvage of stands affected by the 1980's MPB outbreak in the Cariboo Forest Region, and salvage of the current MPB outbreak. Lignum Ltd.
and Riverside forest company staff have used our preliminary results to assist in understanding the role of fire and MPB disturbances and their interaction, particulary how past disturbances have created current stand structures. These results have also assisted determining appropriate forest harvest and silvicultural systems that will approximate natural stand level processes and structure, while minimizing mountain pine beetle and fire losses.
Upcoming extension activities for the current fiscal year of 2003-2204 will expand the range of applicability of our initial results. More complex analysis of the original data and stand changes since the end of the 80's epidemic will reveal more information that will be invaluable to industry foresters, parks managers, Ministry of Forests planners and managers, and contribute to a growing pool of knowledge about the effects of MPB epidemics on future forest development.

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Updated August 26, 2005 

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