Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Sicamous Creek Silvicultural Systems Research Project


Project Summary

The Engelmann Spruce Subalpine Fir (ESSF) biogeoclimatic zone occurs at high elevations (over 1500 m) throughout much of the interior of British Columbia. Learning how to manage this resource sustainably is our goal. Communities in the interior of British Columbia rely on these high-elevation forests for many things - a reliable supply of clean water, fibre to keep the mills running, recreation, and tourism. ESSF Forests are characterized by: a short growing season, 8 months of snow, and extended periods of sub-zero temperatures.

The broad objective of the Sicamous Creek project is to provide the forestry community with information on how to manage wet, cold, high elevation forests in the Southern Interior. We plan to do this by measuring the response of valued components of the most common ecosystems to widely differing types of logging (patterns of canopy removal) and soil disturbance (site preparation for regeneration). From this information, operational foresters should be able to choose from alternative methods of logging and regenerating the common forest types, based on the specific sets of forest values they are required to manage. Thus, one measure of success for the project will be the degree to which operations in high elevation forests shift from the current wide-spread pattern of large patch clearcutting followed by mechanical site preparation and planting spruce, to a broader array of logging and regeneration techniques.

The design of the project was based on the following propositions:

1. Stand level experiment: an experiment that deliberately manipulates stand structure patch size and soil disturbance has more chance of meeting diverse and changing management needs than one based on the application of "off the shelf" silvicultural systems.

2. Team approach: no single agency in B.C. has the resources or staff to carry out an ambitious ecosystem-based silvicultural systems project. The only possible route to success is to encourage the development of a co-operative network of researchers from various agencies.

3. Extension: the best way to ensure management support of an inherently risky research venture is to provide information to the forestry community and interested public on project findings in a readily accessible form and on a regular basis, preferably in the field.

4. Long term: The project cannot meet its declared goals in a short period of time. Most forest harvesting plans in B.C. are based on a three-pass system: about one third of the timber is removed in the first cut or pass and the second cut is planned for 30 or more years in the future. The Sicamous Project plans call for the site to be maintained for at least 30 years.

We recognised at the outset that all information needs could not be met because of the limited spatial scale and the long time frame of the stand-level experiment. Consequently, we planned for resources to be directed to supporting associated landscape studies and encouraging collaboration between researchers working at other high elevation study sites in B.C. and elsewhere.