BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management
The Journal of Ecosystems and Management (JEM) is a peer-reviewed electronic and print journal published by FORREX Forum for Research and Extension in Natural Resources. JEM informs readers about innovative approaches to sustainable ecosystem management, and provides a forum for commentary on current issues and challenges. JEM is available to the public via the Internet at: jem.forrex.org. Aimed at decision makers in the policy, management, and operational realms, as well as practitioners, professionals, researchers, and natural resource users, JEM extends research results, indigenous knowledge, management applications, socio-economic analyses, and scholarly opinions.
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Bioenergy is a viable solution to BC's Wildland-Urban Interface fuels problem; however, a number of policy changes are needed first
We have an increasing wildfire risk to communities of the province that is not being effectively addressed by the current hazard reduction program. Existing planning and remediation efforts are a small fraction of what is required given the march of climate change, the steady accumulation of forest fuels in the WUI and the large number of affected communities. The greatest barrier to an adequate response is the high cost of initial and recurring treatments, dependent primarily on tax funds from senior governments, and the lack of a policy framework that makes it possible to earn offsetting revenues from remedial work. Continuing on this trajectory will bring the predictable results of increasingly frequent and increasingly severe interface fires. A solution to this impasse is a major departure from current policy and practice; it is an attempt to turn an economic barrier into an economic advantage by converting a fuel surplus from a costly burden to a commercially valuable energy source. Because the proposal affects the legislated jurisdictions of communities, the tenure rights of existing industry, the encouragement of a new energy industry, the revision of silvicultural requirements, the linked use of merchantable timber and lower value biomass, expanding the carbon offset regime and sensitivity to international timber pricing agreements it is a formidable challenge to our current forest administration. Such a bold transformation likely cannot be approached piecemeal nor can it be applied province-wide without practical trial.
An Evaluation of the Main Factors Affecting Yield Differences Between Single- and Mixed-Species Stands
The native grasslands and associated dry woodland ecosystems of the BC Interior are an important economic, biodiversity, and recreational resource. They also form an integral part of our cultural fabric, contributing to a sense of place-identity for many British Columbians. All the ecosystems of the Province will experience fundamental shifts as a result of climate change, but given the unique and complex nature of the Bunchgrass (BG), Ponderosa Pine (PP) and the dry phases of the Interior Douglas-fir (IDF) Biogeoclimatic (BGC) zones, they are deserving of a separate treatment. This discussion paper is not intended as a definitive review, but rather to initiate dialogue on an issue that is significant to both the livestock and conservation sectors.
this analysis used a large data set, our inability to correlate disturbance with site characteristics and the differences between monitoring methods points to the need for common terms and comparable guidelines for soil disturbance monitoring.
Crown land is unique to the Commonwealth and better represented in British Columbia than anywhere else in the Commonwealth (95% of the land base). Through tradition and common law, British Columbians have come to define Crown lands as publicly owned lands that belong to all residents and to expect governments to shepherd them for the benefit of all. Social licence to operate on this land requires approval from the local community and other stakeholders. The concept of Crown land makes every British Columbian a potential stakeholder and has led to more drama and noise around social licence than occurs elsewhere. The four main reasons for failure in past applications for social licence have been a lack of respect, assuming economics is a sufficient framework, appearing to bully, and hiding or obscuring information deemed relevant. Recent events in the province suggest the provincial and federal governments, and some companies, have learned little from past failures. Energy development faces particular challenges because location counts and impacts are both intrusive and extensive, but the errors described here are avoidable. W. Edwards Deming reputedly observed, “Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival.” Some companies have learned.
The topic is addressed under six headings: (1) Whose land is it?; (2) What the public has said; (3) Defining social licence; (4) Lessons from exploring social licence; (5) Lessons and energy development; and (6) What’s next?
Understanding Occupational Health and Safety Culture for BC Aboriginal Fire Crews and Emergency Service Personnel: Research Update
Use of airborne gamma radiometrics to infer soil properties for a forested area in British Columbia, Canada
We obtained radiometric data from a public-domain archive maintained by Natural Resources Canada and processed them to produce a ternary image for a portion of the Cariboo region. A field program was used to evaluate what information could be reliably inferred from the available data. This initial investigation confirmed that the radiometrics for this area exhibited consistent and useful patterns to interpret the lithology, mineralogy, depth, and moisture status of the surficial materials. Different colour patterns in the ternary image correlated well with different compositions of the various tills. We noted a clear association between higher values of radioactive emission and more recently deposited aeolian, alluvial, and glaciofluvial sediments that contained higher concentrations of relatively unweathered minerals. We observed a clear pattern of lower emission from wetlands and areas of wet soil. Airborne radiometrics, even at 500-m line spacing, provided invaluable and precise information—not otherwise obtainable—for mapping or modelling spatial variation in properties of the surficial material within the forested study area in British Columbia. We recommend further investigations to develop operational procedures for the use of such data in mapping surficial materials.
Rapid climate change is predicted for British Columbia’s Inland Temperate Rainforest (ITR), a globally unique ecosystem. Lichens, which may serve as effective biomonitors of ecosystem health, have been proposed for use as climate change indicators for a variety of ecosystems globally. This research presents a climate biomonitoring protocol using arboreal macrolichen communities in the inland rainforest in British Columbia. We report our initial findings of 39 lichen taxa, including a number of rare species and cyanolichens, which may be especially sensitive to climate. Comparisons of these data with future measurements will provide an indication of how the inland rainforest may be responding to climate change.
Thinning of a Ponderosa Pine/Douglas-Fir Forest in South-Central BC: Impacts on Understorey Vegetation
Forage Production Potential in a Ponderosa Pine Stand: Effects of Tree Spacing on Understorey Plants after 45 Years
We examined the development of understorey forage plant communities in relation to tree density in an experimental ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) stand. We used a 45-year-old ponderosa pine spacing trial near Westwold, British Columbia, Canada, with five spacing treatments (1.22, 2.44, 3.66, 4.88, and 6.10 m) to sample understorey biomass and diversity, with a focus on pinegrass (Calamagrostis rubescens) and rough fescue (Festuca campestris)—two regionally important forage grasses. We predicted that there would be a positive correlation between tree spacing and understorey biomass and a compositional shift from pinegrass to rough fescue under increased tree spacing. We found that rough fescue, the preferred forage species, grew only under tree spacings equal to or greater than 3.66 m, with the greatest biomass at 4.88 and 6.10 m spacings, whereas pinegrass was equally abundant under all spacings. We believe that silvopasture principles could be applied to similar ponderosa pine stands to optimize and maintain both timber and forage productivity.
Analysis of Ancient Western Redcedar Stands in the Upper Fraser River Watershed and Scenarios for Protection
Emerging research has highlighted the significance of ancient western redcedar (Thuja plicata) stands within the upper Fraser River watershed as examples of rare forest types within British Columbia’s inland temperate rainforest (ITR). These stands represent a globally significant repository of canopy lichen biodiversity. Ancient redcedar stands were historically found in greatest abundance in wet “toe-slope” topographic positions, where mountain slopes flatten out as they reach the valley bottom. Abundant groundwater runoff and wet soils in these topographic positions provided protection from fires and sustained trees during dry summer periods. However, the placement of road and rail corridors in these same topographic positions has facilitated the logging of many ancient redcedar stands. The result has been the widespread loss of ancient cedars, which today account for only 3.7% of the 130 571 ha ICHvk2 biogeoclimatic zone east of Prince George. Of the remaining ancient cedar stands found in the ICHvk2 less than 2% (approx. 100 ha) are currently protected within BC provincial parks. Here we outline three scenarios that would increase the proportion of this ecosystem within BC parks and would support landscape-level planning objectives for the upper Fraser River watershed. We suggest that the cultural and biological values represented by these proposed areas would meet criteria for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage or Biosphere Reserve site, ultimately resulting in widespread positive benefits for diversification of the regional economy, by building on a regional tourist attraction that has already developed at the site of the Ancient Forest Trail.
This research report summarizes findings of an electronic survey designed by FORREX to document the information needs of British Columbia natural resource management professionals in the area of silvicultural systems and stand management techniques, including their ability to use this knowledge to manage for different values on the landscape and the reasons why certain sources of information were not used. Conducted from September to October 2010, the survey was emailed to 561 key silviculture practitioners and researchers in British Columbia. A total of 107 recipients (slightly over 20%) responded to the survey.
The main knowledge gaps identified by survey respondents were related to growth and yield, economic rates of return, treatment response, and effects of treatments on values such as biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and hydrology. Other information needs identified included potential impacts of climate change on forest health, forest fire frequency and severity; and production of biofuels or carbon sequestration, and trade-offs associated with managing for these new products.
These survey results will help extension providers improve future extension programming. They will also prove useful in developing government and academic silviculture research programs and allocating funds for these programs. Survey results related to implementation barriers will also aid government policy-makers.