UPDATE: Based on the 2007 data collection, it is necessary to add another tree fall assessment in 2008. The mountain pine beetle mortality has initiated a very active period of treefall that should be measured annually. This will not change other planned activities for 2008-09.
This is a long-term research trial that supports policy (Cariboo-Chilcotin Land-Use Plan (CCLUP (Province of B.C. 1995)) and Species at Risk Act (SARA)), and provides an integrated approach to caribou habitat management. Under SARA, northern caribou are designated as ?threatened? within Southern Mountains National Ecological Area (SMNEA) and under the CCLUP, they are considered a key management species (Youds et al. 2002). The goal of this project is to develop and test silvicultural systems that maintain caribou habitat, including terrestrial and arboreal forage lichens, while extracting timber, achieving regeneration, maintaining long-term site productivity and conserving biodiversity. Research is required to continue to provide a sound scientific basis for the ?modified harvesting options? under the CCLUP and for the SARA mandated recovery planning process. Over 181,000 ha of caribou habitat is designated for ?modified harvesting? (Youds et al. 2002) but due to the ?threatened? status of the species nationally, convincing data showing success will be needed to ensure the land continues to contribute to the AAC.
Lichens are widely recognized as the major winter forage of woodland caribou throughout their range (Edwards et al. 1960; Scotter 1967; Ahti and Hepburn 1967). Research in the Itcha-Ilgachuz area in west central British Columbia has shown that terrestrial and arboreal lichens are important forage for caribou during winter (Cichowski 1989). There are negative effects of conventional clearcut logging on terrestrial lichen in lodgepole pine stands (Miège et al. 2001; Woodard 1995; Goward and Miège 1999), though harvesting on a winter snowpack can reduce losses (Coxson and Marsh 2001). There are estimates of recovery and descriptions of long term succession patterns based on retrospective studies in central B.C.(Coxson and Marsh 2001, and Brulisauer 1996); however, these patterns have resulted from fire not forest harvesting. Initial work on the pilot block of our trial indicates that partial cutting retains arboreal and terrestrial lichen and partial shading of terrestrial lichens in openings reduces sudden exposure to solar radiation that causes rapid drying and heating (Miège et al. 2001).
Further investigation with the replicated trial quantifies terrestrial lichen response to group selection and irregular group shelterwoods over time. After 8 years, analysis indicates that lichen recovery is underway in the partial cutting treatments and three adjacent clearcuts, although the amount in the clearcuts lags substantially behind the partial cuts. However, the research trial has now become more complex and important because mountain pine beetle (MPB) has killed 50% or more of the mature trees since 2004 (last assessment). The implications to the lichen community and subsequently, to northern caribou and other species are unknown. To the north of our study, in MPB killed stands, Williston and Cichowski (2006) attribute the decline of lichen partially to increased kinnikinnick and possible landscape level increases in water table. Increased litter fall and gradually increased light could cause lichens to decline. In our study, in addition to lichen and moss species variables such as canopy closure (light), vegetation (layers and species), ground disturbance and moisture, and woody debris (litter fall, slash) will continue to be measured. We are uniquely set up to measure the impact of MPB on northern caribou habitat.
This trial provides an excellent opportunity to measure the response of birds, and tree regeneration to the changing forest structure induced first by partial cutting and now by MPB. In the first 5 years post-harvest ...
Waterhouse, Michaela J., Armleder, Harold M.; Chapman, Bill K.; Wei, Adam. 2009. Silvicultural systems to maintain northern caribou habitat in lodgepole pine forests in central BC. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2009MR416
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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