Forest Science Program

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Experimental design protocol for long-term operational response evaluations (EXPLORE)

Author(s) or contact(s): B.S. Biring, P.G. Comeau, J.O. Boateng, and S.W. Simard
Source: Forest Science Program
Subject: Forestry General, Vegetation Management
Series: Working Paper
Other details:  Published 1998. Hardcopy is available.


Over the 15-year period from 1981 to 1995, a total of 586 672 hectares of Crown forest land received brushing treatments at a cost of approximately $243 million. Approximately 75 000 hectares of forest land require brushing treatments each year. Some information is available on the short-term (2-3 year) impacts and benefits of commonly used treatments in reforested clearcuts. However, little information is available on the long-term effects of vegetation management practices on achievement of management objectives, including free-growing, green-up, stand development, growth, or yield objectives, especially under different silvicultural systems. Better information is required on how common practices affect biodiversity and habitat values to provide a basis for evaluating and selecting treatment options. There is also a critical need to examine the value and impacts of vegetation management treatments applied in a range of silvicultural systems, particularly systems that involve various levels of canopy retention.

Broadleaf species are a common component of most low- and mid-elevation forests in British Columbia. Maintenance of the broadleaf component in these forests is desirable for a number of reasons, including improved nutrient availability, increased species and structural diversity, and increased timber yield. However, experience and information about managing mixedwood forests in B.C. is limited. Studies are needed to document the effects of a range of silvicultural systems and mixedwood management strategies on stand dynamics, growth and yield, and non-timber resource values.

The EXperimental design Protocol for Long-term Operational Response Evaluations (EXPLORE) provides a methodology for establishing long-term studies to document impacts of vegetation management and mixed-wood management strategies. In each installation, at least one pair of plots (consisting of an untreated control or legacy plot and a treatment plot) is established. Replication is achieved by applying each treatment at several different installations. The option to establish additional plots for additional treatments is provided for in the protocol. Treatment plots are a minimum of 0.49 ha (70 x 70 m). Within each treatment plot, a set of measurement plots and transects are used for data collection. Data is collected to document (i) vegetation development, (ii) growth of individual seedlings, saplings, or trees, (iii) stand dynamics, (iv) stand structure, (v) coarse woody debris, (vi) soil disturbance, (vii) plant species diversity, and (viii) growth and yield of crop trees.

The network of installations established in various vegetation complexes and forest types using this protocol will provide valuable demonstration sites and useful data on stand development and treatment impacts.

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Updated November 05, 2009