The mountain pine beetle (MPB) began attacking the Quesnel Timber Supply Area (TSA) forests in 2001. Since then, the outbreak reached an epidemic, significantly altering the forest ecosystems within the TSA. The outbreak is subsiding and the impacted lodgepole pine (Pl) stands that remain are in a state of decay. The focus of the forest sector has been to salvage the dead Pl stands before they become uneconomic to harvest. The salvage window is closing and the focus will soon shift to harvesting non-Pl.
The Ministry of Forests and Range (MFR), Forest Analysis and Inventory Branch (FAIB) is leading Timber Supply Review (TSR4), with an expected allowable annual cut (AAC) Determination due in 2010. TSR5 is no more than five years away, and the AAC is expected to be significantly reduced.
The licensees and MFR are investing to improve inventory information to support TSR5. These initiatives include, but are not limited to:
?h Developing a Predictive Ecosystem Map to better describe forest ecosystems in the TSA;
?h Completing a Site Index Adjustment project to ensure that more realistic forest productivity estimates are used to grow stands in the forest estate model; and
?h Completing an Economic Operability Assessment to define the economically operable timber within the TSA.
Approximately 70 percent of the TSA is covered by stands leading in Pl, much of which is now dead and decaying. The inventory labels used to describe these stands are no longer reliable and this erodes the confidence in timber supply forecasting. To improve the forest inventory information, the FAIB created a pilot program to assess ways in which the Vegetation Resources Inventory (VRI) can better describe the forests affected by MPB. A series of initiatives have been completed as part of this pilot program. Notably:
?h An image based re-inventory test was completed on 10 mapsheets whose polygons were predominantly leading in Pl. The polygons were difficult to describe mostly because the imagery was poor and the generally grey colour of dead Pl stands. This program was completed in 2007.
?h A VRI Phase I program was completed on 83 mapsheets in the east portion of the TSA on mapsheets that were predominantly mature green (ie, non-Pl leading). This program was completed in December 2009.
The next step is to design a field program that supports the key inventory information needs for TSR5.