Coast Forest Region Research Section - Ecology - Coarse Woody Debris


Rotten LuckStewardship of the forest and grass land ecosystems for sustainable use now and in the future is a central goal of the Ministry of Forests’. Essential to that stewardship role, and to ensuring biodiversity, is understanding the role that coarse woody debris (CWD) plays in forest ecosystem dynamics and the effect of current management practices on this resource. Downed dead wood, or CWD, is an important structural component of forest and stream ecosystems, and is linked to both biodiversity and ecosystem processes. In B.C. the management of CWD is a legislative requirement under the Forest Practices Code.  

Quantitative guidelines for CWD management are currently unavailable. In part, this is due to the absence of quantitative data on this resource in either managed or unmanaged B.C. forests. The 1995 Deputy’s memorandum on stand-level biodiversity states there is to be no impact on operating costs or timber supply. CWD falls under the stand-level biodiversity umbrella. Due to the above factors, CWD management is currently tied to the Ministry of Forest’s (MOF) utilization policy. Guiding principals and management considerations to improve CWD retention within the context of this policy are outlined in the ministries document titled: A Short-term Strategy for Coarse Woody Debris Management in British Columbia’s Forests, March 2000.




A modified timber cruise for the inventory of dead wood in Coastal forests: a field trial. This report details the results of a study exploring the feasibility of collecting data on dead wood using a modified version of a coastal industry timber cruise.

An Operational trial to evaluate the effectiveness of using modified bucking/yarding practices in Coastal Old-Growth stands to maximize CWD levels in the setting: Establishment Report. In 1999, a multi-year operational study was initiated to evaluate the logistics, feasibility, and success of transferring procedures used in helicopter harvesting to other harvesting systems. The purpose of the study is to compare, for both conventional and modified harvesting practices, the operational costs as well as the post-harvest distribution and attributes of CWD over a range of sites.

Efficiency of six line intersect sampling designs for estimating volume and density of coarse woody debris. Six line intersect sampling (LIS)designs were used to estimate the volume and number of pieces of coarse woody debris (CWD) per unit area in two forests in the Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone of British Columbia.

Measuring the length of Coarse Woody Debris. Piece length is an important descriptor of CWD structure. However, whether length needs to be measured depends on the study objectives. If length is required, then strict adherence to a set of rules is needed to ensure measurement consistency. The considerations described in this paper are indicative of those that need to be addressed in defining CWD piece length, and in establishing and applying measurement rules for a sampling project.

Validation of a Modified Operational Cruise Designed to Sample Dead Wood. Interim Working Document, Prepared for the TWF/INTERFOR Project Subcommittee of the Vancouver Forest Region CWD Working Group. (December 2001).

Using Line Intersect Sampling for Coarse Woody Debris. Technical Report TR-003, Marshall, P.L., Davis, G., V.M. LeMay (2000).

Armillaria Studies in British Columbia 1975-1995: Summary. G.Davis and M. Machmer, March 1998, Nelson Forest Region Technical Report TR-017.

Dead tree management in British Columbia. Stone, J., J. Parminter, A. Arsenault, T. Manning, N. Densmore, G. Davis, and A. MacKinnon. In press. Proceedings of Ecology and Management of Dead Wood in Western Forests, November 2-4 1999, Reno, Nevada. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, General Technical Report PSW-GTR.

Standing dead tree dynamics extracted from growth and yield permanent sample plots in British Columbia Stone, J., J. Parminter, and J. Braz. In press. Proceedings of Ecology and Management of Dead Wood in Western Forests, November 2-4 1999, Reno, Nevada. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, General Technical Report PSW-GTR.