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Arboreal Lichen Response to a Group Selection Silvicultural System, Mount Tom Adaptive Management Trial, Central British Columbia

Author(s) or contact(s): M.J. Waterhouse, A.F. Linnell Nemec, and J. McLeod
Source: Forests, Lands, and NR Operations
Subject: Silvicultural Systems
Series: Extension Note
Other details:  Published 2015. Hardcopy is available.


Southern Mountain caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) have been assessed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) so strategies and actions for protection and recovery are required under the federal Species at Risk Act. In the Cariboo Region, the Cariboo Chilcotin Land Use Plan (CCLUP) identified areas of caribou habitat for "no-harvest" and "modified harvest". The adaptive management trial at Mount Tom, near Wells, British Columbia was designed to learn how to efficiently implement the group selection silvicultural system at an operational scale and to systematically measure the changes to habitat. Between 2001 and 2010, five blocks (comprising a total of 1040-ha) were harvested using a variety of harvesting equipment, opening designs, and trail layouts. The first entry of the group selection silvicultural system removed one third of the trees (and arboreal lichen) in irregular shaped openings (0.1 - 1.0 ha) throughout each block. Arboreal lichen was measured pre-harvest and at 2.5 and 5.5 years post-harvest in three harvest blocks and two no-harvest controls. Lichen abundance initially decreased at 2.5 years in the partial cuts relative to controls but the difference was no longer significant at 5.5 years. The proportion of Bryoria increased significantly and very quickly in response to the partial cutting treatment. Results from the research trial are consistent with those of other longer term studies on partial cutting. The "modified" harvesting prescription has effectively maintained arboreal lichen in the residual forest at Mount Tom. Providing lichen bearing habitat meets just one of the needs of caribou. A comprehensive approach that considers all factors (e.g. access, predation, recreation and mining) and their interactions is essential to maintain and recover the mountain caribou.

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Updated July 20, 2015