Silviculture Systems and Forest Dynamics


Overview
Current Focus Areas
Research Highlights
Extension and Consultations
Recent Publications
Research Topics
Related Links
External Links
Ministry Contacts

Overview

Silviculture is the practice of applying different treatments and methods such as partial cutting, fertilization, planting density, and thinning to influence forest establishment, composition, and growth. Researchers from the Silviculture Systems and Forest Dynamics working group have established long-term interdisciplinary field experiments that study the impacts of silvicultural practices on tree growth and yield, wood quality, regeneration, forest health, and above- and below-ground timber and non-timber resources.

The Silviculture Systems and Forest Dynamics working group is committed to providing extension tools and the best available information for a wide range of clients, including forest managers and practitioners in industry and government, growth and yield modellers, and the scientific community in order to make sound resource management decisions. The long-term field experiments become more valuable over time, as complex issues such as the mountain pine beetle outbreaks and climate change require forest managers to predict impacts well into the future. The data generated over the long term greatly improve and validate the predictive capability of stand development models such as the Tree and Stand Simulator (TASS) and TIPSY.

The Silviculture Systems and Forest Dynamics working group is providing valuable information and technical support to Ministry initiatives such as the Future Forest Ecosystems Initiative, operational fertilization under Forests for Tomorrow, and ongoing priorities such as Timber Supply Review and Annual Allowable Cut determinations, Type 1 and Type 2 Silviculture Strategies, Ecosystem-Based Management, the Coast Forest Action Plan and second-growth management, and non-timber forest product management.

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Current Focus Areas

  • Silviculture systems research involving multi-disciplinary projects such as the long-term effects on forest productivity and other non-timber values, soil microbial and faunal community structure and function, windthrow, public perception of alternative systems, and the feasibility and costs of alternative harvesting regimes.

  • Forest dynamics research to study the effects of stand regeneration and management on attributes such as old-growth forest structure and characteristics, wood quality, forest health concerns, and above- and below-ground biodiversity.

  • Stand management research to determine the long-term effects of a wide variety of silvicultural treatments, including planting density, thinning, pruning, and fertilization on stand growth and development, and their interaction with current forest management issues such as mountain pine beetle and climate change.

  • Stand management research to evaluate advanced regeneration and residual tree development in mountain pine beetle–attacked stands, particularly those not likely to be salvage harvested.

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Research Highlights

  • The Mountain Pine Beetle Stewardship Research Strategy [pdf] and Implementation Framework [pdf] have provided the Chief Forester with an analysis of forest stewardship needs and research knowledge gaps and priorities.

  • Five-year measurements of the first installation of the STEMS project (Silviculture Treatments for Ecosystem Management in the Sayward) in a 60-year-old Douglas-fir stand have been collected and analyzed. Two other replications of the STEMS experimental design have been established in different forest structures, including a 70-year-old western hemlock–dominated stand, and a 60-year-old commercially thinned Douglas-fir stand. This multi-disciplinary experiment compares forest productivity, economics, and public perception of seven silviculture systems or extended rotation treatments, and offers ideal conditions for new research questions to be addressed as the need arises.

  • An Extension Note summarizes research on whether natural regeneration is a feasible option for reforesting high-elevation fir-spruce stands after logging in south-central British Columbia. Feasibility will depend on a number of variables such as aspect, opening size, site preparation, and planting density.

  • A new 3-year research project will study rates of mortality and dead tree dynamics in old coastal forest stands. This research will contribution to safety hazard assessment, identifying important attributes for wildlife tree patch retention, and evaluating losses when estimating stand yields using TASS. [more]

  • A 3-year study has been initiated to collect 25-year measurements from the Coastal Stand Management Field Experiments. This series of growth and yield research plots will provide the first-ever study of 25-year dynamics, and improve our understanding of the response of growth, regeneration, and mortality from intermediate and partial cutting treatments throughout the coast. [more]

  • Studies of the impacts of silvicultural treatments on the wood quality characteristics of lodgepole pine and interior spruce are improving the modelling capabilities of TASS. Recent data have been incorporated on the effects of crown ratio on the transition from juvenile to mature wood production in lodgepole pine. [abstract]

  • A new study will determine the carbon budget implications of a rapid input of carbon from the foliar biomass loss that results from mountain pine beetle attack in lodgepole pine forests.

  • An integrated, multi-jurisdictional growth and yield co-operative (the Stand Management Co-operative) ensures a continuing source of long-term, high-quality data on tree and stand growth and yield, wood quality, and product recovery response to a variety of intensive silvicultural regimes in second-growth coastal forests.

  • Long-term research results and expertise are being applied to the Forests For Tomorrow program, including assessing developing site selection criteria for Type I and Type II silviculture strategies, appropriate fertilization and thinning options, and monitoring protocol. On-going monitoring will validate current stand development models and predict future growth response of treated stands, as well as determine the impact on non-timber resources.

  • Re-measurement of long-term stand management trials will improve treatment response estimates and validate data for the provincial growth and yield models used to support the timber supply analysis, silvicultural prescriptions, and investment decisions.
  • As part of the Stand Management Cooperative initiative, new research plots were recently established for a coastal Douglas-fir fertilization study aimed at creating a tool that uses site characteristics to predict the response of Douglas-fir to nitrogen fertilization.
  • A trial to examine silvicultural management, specifically various brushing treatments, in boreal mixed-wood aspen and white spruce stands is being used to investigate options and tradeoffs regarding managing for spruce production versus wildlife and other values. The research also addresses the policy question of when white spruce seedlings regenerating in a mixed-wood forest can be considered free-growing.
  • A vegetation management research trial to identify silviculture treatments for achieving free-growing Engelmann spruce on ICH sites near Revelstoke that are heavily affected by brush and snow has developed methods that produce significant gains in height and diameter growth, thereby contributing to addressing midterm timber supply needs.
  • Fertilization trials aimed at maximizing the productivity of Interior B.C. forests, after 12 years, have shown that interior spruce production can be tripled with fertilization. An accompanying investigation into soil properties indicated that fertilizing forests also increases soil carbon storage.

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Extension and Consultations

Stand Management Cooperative (University of Washington), Chair—providing a continuing source of high-quality information on the long-term effects of silvicultural treatments and treatment regimes on stand and tree growth and development and on wood and product quality. A co-operative effort of landowners, processors, research agencies, and universities from throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Science Committee—Ministry of Environment—facilitating the development and application of a framework to assist the application of science in the Ministry’s work; providing advice and recommendations to the Minister, Deputy Minister, and Ministry Executive on enhancing the use of science in policy development, strategic planning, decision-making, and monitoring processes; providing the Executive with progress updates on the use of science within the Ministry, and on associated issues. 

Mountain Pine Beetle Stewardship Research Strategy and Mountain Pine Beetle Implementation Plan, Technical Advisory role—Identifying and prioritizing knowledge gaps by client groups and researchers to help co-ordinate projects to resolve stewardship research issues. 

Future Forest Ecosystems Initiative, Technical Committee—Leading the co-ordination of research knowledge to develop a sound scientific foundation for understanding climate change and ecosystem resilience. 

Forests for Tomorrow, Operational Fertilization Program, Technical Advisory role—accelerating the development of immature spruce and Douglas-fir stands to partially mitigate the negative impacts of the current mountain pine beetle epidemic on future timber supply and to preserve the stability and economic well-being of forestry-dependent communities.

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Recent Publications

Antos, J.A., R. Parish, and G. Nigh. 2008. Growth patterns prior to mortality of mature Abies lasiocarpa in old growth subalpine forests of southern British Columbia. For. Ecol. Manage. 255(5-6): 1568-1574.

Berch, S.M. and R.P. Brockley. 2008. Effects of repeated fertilization on fine roots, mycorrhizae, and soil mesofauna in young lodgepole pine and spruce forests in central British Columbia. B.C. Min. For. Range, Res. Br., Victoria, B.C. Exten. Note 84.

Berch, S.M. and R. Brockley. 2007. Impacts of fertilization on soil biota of young lodgepole pine and interior spruce stands in the interior of British Columbia. Presentation at North American Forest Ecology Workshop, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. 

Berch, S.M., R.P. Brockley, J. Battigelli, and S. Hagerman. [2007]. Impacts of repeated fertilization on components of the soil biota under a young spruce stand in the interior of British Columbia. Can. J. For. Res. Submitted.

Berch, S.M., R.P. Brockley, J. Battigelli, S. Hagerman, and B. Holl. 2006. Impacts of repeated fertilization on components of the soil biota under a young lodgepole pine stand in the interior of British Columbia. Can. J. For. Res. 36:1415–1426.

Brockley, R.P. 2008. Can thinning and fertilizing young lodgepole pine mitigate future timber supply challenges? B.C. Min. For. Range, Res. Br., Victoria, B.C. Exten. Note 82.

Brockley, R.P. 2007. Assessing the effects of fertilization on understorey vegetation in young lodgepole pine and spruce forests in central British Columbia. B.C. Min. For. Range, Victoria. B.C. Exten. Note 81.

Brockley, R.P. 2007. Effects of 12 years of repeated fertilization on the foliar nutrition and growth of young lodgepole pine in the central interior of British Columbia. Can. J. For. Res. 37: 2115-2129.

Brockley, R.P. [2007]. Effects of post-thinning density and repeated fertilization on the growth and development of young lodgepole pine. B.C. Min. For. Range, Victoria. Extension Note. In press.

Brockley, R.P. 2006. Comparing the effects of urea and ammonium nitrate fertilizers on the growth and foliar nutrition of lodgepole pine: 6-year results. B.C. Min. For. and Range, Victoria, B.C. Exten. Note 78. 

Brockley, R.P. 2006. Effects of fertilization on the growth and foliar nutrition of immature Douglas-fir in the Interior Cedar-Hemlock zone of British Columbia: six-year results. B.C. Min. For. Range, Victoria, B.C. Res. Rep. 27.

Brockley, R.P. and P. Sanborn. 2007. Assessing the effects of Sitka alder on the growth and foliar nutrition of young lodgepole pine in central British Columbia (SBSdw3): 9-year results. B.C. Min. For. and Range, Victoria, B.C. Extension Note 79.

de Montigny, L. and R. Negrave. [2008]. Effects of pruning severity on the growth of juvenile western redcedar twelve years after pruning. West. J. Appl. For. In press.

de Montigny, L. and G. Nigh. 2007. Density frontiers for even-aged Douglas-fir and western hemlock stands in coastal B.C. For. Sci. 53(6):675-682.

de Montigny, L. and G. Nigh. 2007. Growth and survival of Douglas-fir and western redcedar planted at different densities and species mixtures. B.C. Min. For. Range, Res. Br., Victoria, B.C. Tech. Rep. 044

Grayston S.J. J.A. Addison, S.M. Berch, L. de Montigny, D.M.Durall, K.N. Egger, M.D. Jones, R. Modesto, W.W. Mohn, T.S. Panesar, C.E. Prescott, and DS Srivastava. 2006. Green tree retention: A tool to maintain soil function after harvest. B.C. J. Eco. and Manage. 7: 9-12. 

Grayston S.J. J.A. Addison, S.M. Berch, L. de Montigny, D.M.Durall, K.N. Egger, M.D. Jones, R. Modesto, W.W. Mohn, T.S. Panesar, C.E. Prescott, S.W. Simard, and DS Srivastava. 2005. Potential of green tree retention as a tool to maintain soil function after harvest. In Balancing ecosystem values: innovative experiments for sustainable forestry.  Proceedings of a conference. Peterson, Charles E.; Maguire, Douglas A., (editors). 2005. U.S. Dep. Agric., For. Serv., Pac. NW Res. Stat., Portland, Oreg. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-6-35 389p. pp. 353-355.

Harper, G. 2008. Quantifying the branch, crown and bole development of Populus tremuloides Michx. from north-eastern British Columbia. For. Ecol. Manage. 255(7): 2286-2296.

Harper, G., K. Polsson, and J. Goudie. 2008. Modelling vegetation management treatments with the Tree and Stand Simulator. The For. Chron. 84: 53-59.

Johnstone, W.D. 2008. The effects of initial spacing and rectangularity on the early growth of hybrid poplar. West. J. Appl. For. 23(4): 189-196.

Johnstone, W.D. and F.J. van Thienen. 2006. A summary of 10- and 15-year results from Douglas-fir thinning experiments in the British Columbia interior. B.C. Min. For. Range, Victoria, B.C. Tech. Rep. 027.

Lindgren, P.M.F., T.P. Sullivan, D.S. Sullivan, R.P. Brockley, and R. Winter. [2007]. Growth response of young lodgepole pine to thinning and repeated fertilization treatments: 10-year results. Forestry. In press.

Mansfield, S.D., R. Parish,  J.W. Goudie,  K-Y Kang, P. and Ott,  2007. The effects of crown ratio on the transition from juvenile to mature wood production in lodgepole pine in western Canada Can. J. For. Res 37(8): 1450-1459. [abstract]

Nigh, G., L. de Montigny, M. Eng, and R. Archer. 2006. Development of a research strategy for mountain pine beetle issues associated with Forest Stewardship Division Functions. B.C. Min. For. and Range, Res. Br., Victoria, B.C. Tech. Rep. 034.

Parish, R. and J.A. Antos. 2006. Slow growth, long-lived trees and minimal disturbance characterize the dynamics of an ancient, montane forest. Can. J. For. Res. 34:2826–2838. 

Parish, R., G.D. Nigh, and J.A. Antos. 2008. Allometry and size structure of trees in two ancient, snow forests in coastal British Columbia. Can. J. For. Res.38(2): 278-288.

Sanborn, P.T. and R.P. Brockley. [2008]. Litter decomposition in a young lodgepole pine - Sitka alder stand in the central interior of British Columbia. Plant and Soil. Submitted.

Vyse, A. and R. Parish. [2008]. Is natural regeneration a feasible option for reforesting high elevation fir-spruce stands after logging in south central British Columbia? B.C. Min. For. Range. Victoria, B.C. Exten. Note RSI. In press.

Research Topics

Related Links

Ministry of Forests and Range

External Links

Ministry Contacts

Coastal experiments:
Louise de Montigny, Research Leader, Silviculture Systems and Forest Dynamics

George Harper, Research Scientist, Stand Development

Interior experiments:
Rob Brockley, Research Silviculturist, Forest Productivity

George Harper, Research Scientist, Stand Development


Ministry contact: Evelyn Hamilton.
Please direct questions regarding webpage to For.Prodres@gov.bc.ca
Updated April 2009