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Ten-year results from operational broadcast burning trials in northwestern British Columbia

Author(s) or contact(s): J.M. Kranabetter and A.M. Macadam
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Forestry General
Series: Research Report
Other details:  Published 1998. Hardcopy is available.


Prescribed fire is sometimes used in the Prince Rupert Forest Region for wildfire hazard abatement and site preparation following clearcut logging. In the early 1980s, concerns were raised about the short- and long-term impacts of broadcast burning on soil fertility. Burning was suspected of causing nutrient losses, particularly of nitrogen (N), through volatilization and leaching (Chandler et al. 1983).

Burning effects on forest soils have been studied in many parts of the world, and soil impacts are often tied to site factors such as climate, soil mineralogy, and burn severity. However, because little information was available for interior sites of northwestern British Columbia, the B.C. Forest Service established, in 1982, a monitoring program of operational broadcast burns. Monitored plots were established across a range of forest zonal types to examine trends and consistent burning effects on average site conditions. An earlier paper (Macadam 1987) presented detailed results for two sites up to two years following burning.

This report describes the effects of broadcast burning on fuels (logging slash and forest floors) at seven sites, and summarizes the subsequent changes in forest floor and mineral soil nutrients, from pre-treatment through to post-burn years 1, 5, and 10. In addition, tree response to broadcast burning is examined through growth rates and foliar nutrient concentrations of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud.).

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Updated October 24, 2008