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Sustainable forest management at FERLD

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Sustainable forest management is now recognized to encompass more than just sustained wood fibre yield. People and communities are interested in acquiring multiple benefits from the forest, benefits which correspond with society’s evolving values. In the Lake Duparquet Research and Teaching Forest, we are developing a forest ecosystem management approach which recognizes these changing values while building upon the fundamental knowledge base that has been built up over the last ten years. Ecosystem management is in part based on the principle that management should be supported by our understanding of natural disturbance regimes and ecosystem dynamics.

Given our understanding of natural succession on mixedwood sites (mainly mesic tills and glacio-lacustrine clays) and the predominance of these sites in the Lake Duparquet Forest ( Cartier et al. 1996), experimentation of natural or semi-natural mixedwood silviculture regimes will become an important part of our management approach. This will include modified cutting regimes, underplanting and seeding trials, and mixed plantations.

Forest ecosystem classification and mapping have been an important part of our knowledge base since the realisation of Bergeron’s original classification (Bergeron et al, 1983). The forest is currently covered by a 1:20,000 integrated forest ecosystem map, or carte écoforestière, produced by the MRNQ Inventory Service. The forest ecosystem map presents forest-related information (tree species, stand density, height and age class) as well as site-level information (surface deposit and depth, drainage and slope). Stand and site attributes of the forest, as well as information on fire history, hunting camps, hydrographic information, etc. is inputted, stored and interrogated using a geographic information system. We are currently completing a 1:50,000 landform map, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment and Wildlife, and intend to compare the two mapping approaches. It is worth noting that the Ecological District in which the Forest is located (Côteaux de la rivière Magusi) is the most representative of all districts of the entire Ecological Region, in terms of relative area of surface deposits (Gauthier et al., 1996). This is an important point with respect to the validity of extrapolating research results to the rest of the region.

Conservation is another key principle of our management strategy. Creation of a conservation zone (fire history map) assures that the natural forest mosaic in this part of the forest will continue to serve as a benchmark for monitoring management interventions in the Lake Duparquet Forest and elsewhere in the southern boreal forest. Strategies for maintaining a variety of forest cover types (intolerant hardwoods, mixedwoods and softwood stands), and balancing the age class structure in the management zone have been developed in the forest management plan. Connecting the conservation zone with parts of the management zone to be left under forest cover (old growth, fragile zones and special habitats), while developing road access for forest harvesting and silviculture, presents a challenge to our management team. The presence of over 30 hunting camps and cottages within the Forest’s boundaries underscores the importance of integrating other forest users’ interests in the management planning process. Communication and public consultation are key to the success of management planning and implementation. We will continue to work closely with industry, local communities and interest groups to ensure that objectives for conservation, fibre production, wildlife habitat, recreation and research converge toward a common management goal for the Forest.

 

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