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Paper Birch Managers' Handbook for British Columbia

Author(s) or contact(s): E.B. Peterson, N.M. Peterson, S.W. Simard, and J.R. Wang
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Hardwoods and Mixedwoods
Series: FRDA Report
Other details:  Published 1997.


This handbook summarizes existing information on the ecology and management of paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.), which occurs through virtually all of British Columbia east of the Coast Mountains, and Alaska paper birch (Betula neoalaskana Sarg.), which occurs in the northeastern part of the province east of the continental divide. For simplicity, these two birches are referred to here collectively as paper birch. Together they are important components of forests in interior and northeastern British Columbia. Because paper birch occurs through most of British Columbia (Figure 1), there are many site series in nearly all of the province's biogeoclimatic subzones where birch needs to be considered in silviculture prescriptions.

To emphasize the practical intent of this handbook, some of the key paper birch management techniques are summarized at the outset (Table 1). In most cases birch is likely to be managed as part of mixed-stand silviculture. The terminology used in this handbook refers to "mixed forest" and "mixedwood," as defined in the Glossary. In some cases, the context requires variations of these terms, such as "birch-conifer mixture," "mixed-species stand," "mixed-broadleaf stand," or "mixed broadleaf-conifer stand."

The intent of this handbook is not to promote pure birch silviculture, but to encourage forest managers to recognize the importance of birch in silvicultural decisions. There are four fundamentally different ways for foresters to view birch management, each with a specific goal:

- manage birch in pure birch stands;
- manage birch as a component of birch-conifer mixtures;
- manage birch to assist stand re-establishment in areas where root diseases and frost damage are restricting conifers; or
- manage birch for special purposes related to biodiversity, wildlife habitat, or riparian- zone management.

Some fundamental decisions should be made before forest managers choose a particular management approach for paper birch (Figure 2). Options associated with birch stemwood production are suggested in Figure 3. For objectives to enhance birch-dominated ecosystems for wildlife, biodiversity, or other aspects of integrated resource management, Figure 4 lists other choices that can be made by a forest manager involved with ecosystems where birch is a significant component. While it is important to work with birch's basic silvical characteristics, it is equally important to maintain a flexible and adaptive approach to birch management.

FRDA Research Report 271 (1294 KB)

FRDA Research Report 271 (1144 KB)

FRDA Research Report 271 (1325 KB)

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Updated July 24, 2015