NL Section AGM 2014

Science and Innovation for Sustainable Forest Management

Proceedings of the Canadian Institute of Forestry Newfoundland and Labrador Annual Section Meeting

November 2014 at the Suncor Energy Fluvarium, Pippy Park, St. John’s



The theme of science and innovation for sustainable forest management is pertinent for the forest sector of Newfoundland and Labrador which is undergoing profound changes at many levels. This 2014 technical session focused on a wide variety of ongoing research projects using presentation, posters and field trips. The topics covered included science policy-interface at federal and provincial levels, new strategies to deal with the eminent return of the spruce budworm, effects of climate and disturbances on forest composition and growth and yield, value added uses of forestry residues, fire management in protected areas, and integration of science in the industry and policy, the effects of moose on regeneration, ecology of the boreal forests, and many more.  One of the highlights of the AGM was the official launch of the new Provincial Sustainable Forest Management Strategy: Growing our Renewable and Sustainable Forest Economy-2014-2014  by the Honorable Derrick Dalley. It was an energizing couple of days where a good dialogue was established between different professionals working in the forest sector in Newfoundland and Labrador. We hope this dialogue continues with the same level of energy and enthusiasm in the future.

– CIF AGM organizing committee 2014

Honorable Derrick Dalley, Minister of Natural Resources, Member for The Isles of Notre Dame

Derrick DalleyDerrick Dalley was born in Twillingate, Notre Dame Bay. He spent his early childhood in Springdale and later returned to Twillingate where he completed high school at J.M.Olds Collegiate. He graduated from Memorial University in 1987 with Bachelor Degrees in Arts and Education which included a Political Science major. In 1992, he completed a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counselling at the University of New Brunswick. Mr. Dalley started his career as a Social Worker in Twillingate. After a year he moved to education and became the Guidance Counsellor in Baie Verte. For seven years Mr. Dalley continued in his role as Guidance Counsellor for several schools on the Baie Verte Peninsula before moving to Twillingate in 1995. He continued his career in education in various capacities, including principal of Inter Island Academy of New World Island and Guidance Counsellor and Principal of J. M. Olds Academy of Twillingate. Mr. Dalley has always been very active in the area of sports, having participated in many sports including hockey and softball. He has spent much of his free time coaching and teaching hockey and working with students who are actively involved in school life. Mr. Dalley was first elected as MHA for the District of The Isles of Notre Dame in the election of October 9, 2007. He was appointed as Vice-Chair of the Public Accounts Committee on January 9, 2008. On January 13, 2011, Mr. Dalley was appointed Minister of Business. He was re-elected to the House of Assembly on October 11, 2011. On October 28, 2011, he was appointed Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. On October 19, 2012, he was appointed Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. In October 2013, Minister Dalley was appointed Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency.

New Strategy Outlines Plan for Managing Provincial Forest Resource

The Honourable Derrick Dalley, Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, launched the new 10-year provincial sustainable forest management strategy during the 2014 Canadian Institute of Forestry, Newfoundland and Labrador Section, Annual General Meeting. Click here to view the press release. The 2014-2024 Provincial Sustainable Forest Management Strategy, Growing our Renewable and Sustainable Forest Economy, is available here.

Brian Hearn, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service

Brian HearnBrian is the Director of the Canadian Forest Service – Atlantic Forest Centre – Corner Brook. He received his Bachelor of Science in Forestry from UNB, a MSC in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a PhD in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine – Orono. Earlier in his career he worked as a Provincial Wildlife Biologist both on the island and then in Goose Bay, Labrador. He joined the CFS Maritimes Region in 1990 as a Forest Research Coordinator, and in 1993 took a position with CFS-NL Region as a Forest Wildlife Ecologist. Since 2012, he has been the Science Director for CFS NL and oversees the delivery of federal forestry program in NL.

An Overview of Federal Science for the Forest Sector: Strategic priorities for sustainable forests.

Canada is a forest nation with 348 M ha of forest, 94% of which is owned by the public. Canada has 9% of the world’s forest and about a quarter of the world’s boreal forest. These public lands are important to Canadians ecologically, socially, and economically, e.g., two thirds of Canada’s plants, animals live in the forest, over 200,000 Canadians were directly employed in the forest industry in 2013, and the forest industry contributed approximately $20 B to Canada’s GDP in 2013. As the lead federal agency for forest, the Canadian Forest Service, a sector of the Department of Natural Resources Canada, conducts regional and national forest research activities under a PAA (Program Architecture of activities) to: support the forest sector competitiveness; optimize forest values; and advance the environmental leadership by improving Canada’s environmental performance in forestry. During this presentation, I will discuss the national science program for CFS and provide examples of regional and local projects and how they contribute to the national CFS program.

Rob Johns, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service

Rob JohnsRob received his PhD in biology from the University of New Brunswick in 2007 and he worked as a postdoctoral research associate in Japan from 2007 through 2009.  He has worked with the Canadian Forest Service since 2009.  His research focuses on insect-plant interactions, population and community ecology, and the development of management strategies for forest insect pests.

Spruce Budworm – An Early Intervention Approach.

During the past decade there has been a gradual shift in our understanding of spruce budworm population dynamics, which has prompted us to reconsider our strategic approach to managing budworm outbreaks. This so-called ‘Early-intervention strategy’ (EIS) focuses on targeting relatively low density populations (‘hot spots’) as a means of halting or slowing outbreak spread. However, even as the theoretical basis of EIS solidifies, many questions remain regarding how to actually implement this strategy in the real world. I will discuss some of the central questions being addressed in the ongoing Atlantic Innovation Fund project aimed at developing this strategy, and provide an early snapshot of results from our first year.

Carissa Brown, Geography Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Carissa BrownCarissa is originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Superior and the heart of the boreal forest. Not surprisingly, her research background has emphasized boreal forest systems, particularly at the northern and southern edges of its distribution. After a BSc at Lakehead University and MSc at Carleton University, Carissa completed her PhD at the University of Saskatchewan, studying fire effects on black spruce treeline populations in northern Yukon. Carissa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at MUN and leader of the Northern Biogeography Lab, where their research focuses on the direct and indirect effects of climate change on species’ distributions.

Climate-induced Shifts in Fire Frequency, and Resulting Effects on Stand Composition.

Northern ecosystems are getting warmer under climate change. Summer temperatures in boreal forest regions are increasing and the growing season lengthening. While these conditions may be more favourable for forest growth, they also increase the likelihood of fire. Boreal forest stands have adapted to succeed in fire-driven landscapes by adopting reproductive strategies such as serotinous (fire-triggered) cones for post-fire regeneration. Boreal forest populations have adapted to the historic fire regime, however, and may not be tolerant of an increase in fire activity in the future. Early evidence of this comes from the northwestern boreal forest, where recent fires have interrupted the serotinous strategy of black spruce, causing a near complete post-fire regeneration failure. There, the most recent fire occurred before individuals reached reproductive maturity. Combined with changes to substrate conditions and subsequent loss of carbon stores with more frequent fire, climate-induced changes to the fire regime may drive long-term shifts in ecosystem structure and function.

Kelly Hawboldt, Process Engineering, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Kelly HawboldtKelly’s Ph. D in Chemical Engineering focused on recovery of useful products from what had previously been considered as waste. She is a professor of Process Engineering at MUN and leads a group of collaborators specifically studying bio-oil, bio-char and ethanol from wood residue, as well as investigations of marine, agricultural and municipal waste streams. She is a supporter of integrated processes, applicability for rural NL settings, and development of processes and products that have export potential.

Value added uses of forestry residues – Memorial University research in forestry by-product development.

This presentation represents a review of studies by Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Process Engineering group, and collaborators in MUN’s Faculty of Chemistry and elsewhere. Studies relate mainly to use of wood and other residues from current forest sawmilling and pulp and paper operations to produce a variety of commodities of value in the green economy. Collaborations have been in place with the Centre for Forest Science and Innovation over a three year period. Initial work consisted of a review of the quantities and quality of forestry residue across insular Newfoundland and from operations in Labrador, the analysis of chemical and thermal characteristics and a review of possible systems for conversion to biofuels. Pyrolysis through mobile or decentralized systems has potential for NL conditions. Laboratory scale equipment has been scaled up, and various types and ages of wood residue have been characterized in variations of processes. In addition to testing of pyrolysis in a larger unit and consideration of co-pyrolysis, torrefaction has been conducted at the lab scale and in a mobile torrefaction unit transported to NL from the University of Sherbrooke. Whereas pyrolysis is done at higher temperature and produces bio-oil, bio-gas and bio-char, torrefaction is conducted in a lower temperature range and produces mainly a biochar. Biochar is useful as a fuel or as a soil amendment.

Other studies at Process Engineering are addressing the possibility of producing ethanol from woody material. The current focus of this work is a possible combination of steps in treatment of hemi- cellulose (simultaneous saccharification and fermentation), and the use of new bio-enzymes to reduce processing cost and improve marketability. Another study which explores the use of wood residue in the recovery of precious metals has resulted in a number of patents and in more environmentally friendly processing. Opportunities exist for other synergies across forestry, fishery and mining sectors.

Yolanda Wiersma, Biology Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Yolanda WiersmaYolanda is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Memorial. Her research area is landscape ecology and she has carried out research related to forestry, protected areas, wildlife and marine mammals. She served in the provincial Forest Research Advisory Committee and currently sits on the provincial lichen recovery team and WERAC.

Forest Research in the Biology Department of Memorial – Research across scales to promote knowledge diversity.

Presentation – Part 1
Presentation – Part 2

This talk gives an overview of the growing research activities from three lab groups (Wiersma, Leroux, Hermanutz) who conduct ecological research in boreal systems. Collectively these researchers cover population, community, ecosystem and landscape ecology, and their research contributes to forest and wildlife management in the province. As in a forest, which is more than just trees, the research here is at different stages, but collectively provides a bigger knowledge on the boreal in the province, and beyond.

Honourable Derrik Dalley, Natural Resources Minister

Press release

2014-2024 Provincial Sustainable Forest Management Strategy, Growing our Renewable and Sustainable Forest Economy

Xinbaio Zhu, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service

Xinbaio ZhuXinbiao is currently a research scientist with Natural Resources of Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Atlantic Forestry Centre, Corner Brook. His work focuses in the study of climate change and land use impacts on forest growth and yield, forest development and stand dynamics. Other projects in his lab aim to reveal the eco-physiological processes underlying forest carbon cycling by measuring and modeling emissions of CO2, CH4, and N2O from forest soil and forest bryophytes photosynthesis and productivity. Before joining Natural Resources Canada, Dr. Zhu worked as a research scientist and instructor at College of the North Atlantic, Corner Brook, where he was responsible for designing algorithms and developing modelling protocols for using multi-criteria analysis for sustainable forest management planning with stakeholder groups. Dr. Zhu completed his Bachelor degree in biology and a Master degree in Plant Physiology in China. He worked as a forest biometrician at Gansu Forest Science and Technology Institute at Lanzhou, China. He then continued with his Doctoral degree in Forest Eco-physiology at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada. Before moving to Newfoundland, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate at UNB Forestry and NRCan Fredericton Lab.

Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Forest Growth and Yield.

Forest growth and yield (G & Y) information is the principal input for a sustainable forest management planning and wood supply analysis. The source of forest G & Y curves relies on an empirical G & Y model calibrated and verified by measurements from PSPs and TSPs. Development and calibration of an empirical G & Y model is based on the assumption that future tree growth conditions will be similar to the past. However, there is growing evidence that climate change is already affecting forest growth. Under such circumstances, the empirical approach to forest yield prediction provides us very few options for dealing with climate change impacts on forest G & Y. This presentation will introduce a hybrid modeling approach for solving the problem by combining the forest gap model’s robust growth-climate functions with the accuracy of the empirical forest G & Y model to produce climate change-related G & Y curves for the major commercial tree species in Newfoundland – an essential step towards developing adaptive forest ecosystem management strategies.

Kirby Tulk, Janet Feltham, Rod Cox. Terra Nova National Park, Parks Canada.

Kirby TulkKirby graduated from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 1997 with a BSc. in Forestry with a minor in Wildlife Management and in 2004 with a MSc. in Forestry. His research focused on introduced species and the implications on forest renewal in and around Terra Nova National Park of Canada (TNNP). Other areas of research that Kirby has been involved in with Parks Canada include: white pine recruitment, prescribed burning, and boreal seedfall/seedbeds/recruitment.

Kirby is an active member of several professional organizations including the Registered Professional Foresters of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Institute of Forestry, and the Atlantic Society of Fish and Wildlife Biologists.

Kirby has worked for Parks Canada for over 10 years, including as park ecologist in Prince Edward Island and Terra Nova. Kirby is currently Acting Manager of Resource Conservation in Terra Nova and project manager for “Restoring Forest Health in TNNP”. This is a five-year integrated project which focuses on reducing the effects of moose on forest regeneration, active forest restoration, species at risk, further development of the prescribed burning program, and visitor experience integration into all aspects of the forest health initiative. Kirby has two kids and spends most of his spare time at the arena.

Science and Innovation for Improved Forest Health in TNNP.

Presentation – Part 1
Presentation – Part 2

Terra Nova National Park is approximately 400 square kilometers, 80% of which is forested. The lack of fires, moose herbivory of natural regeneration (following disturbance by insect and windthrow) and kalmia invasion have contributed to decreased plant and animal diversity. Newfoundland marten, red crossbill and boreal felt lichen are all species at risk that occur in TNNP whose habitat is threatened by altered, and often impeded, forest succession. Moose browsing is known to have transformed more than 13 square kilometers of balsam fir forest into open field conditions. Moose reduction began in TNNP in 2011 after an extensive period of scientific review and public engagement. Numbers of moose were reduced by approximately 15% in each of the first two years. Without this intervention balsam fir forest types had been forecast to be eliminated from the park in about 40 years. In order to place fire, a natural ecosystem process, back on the landscape to rejuvenate black spruce forests, TNNP has been divided into fire management zones. These zones dictate which fire management actions can occur. One of the these activities, prescribed burning, began in the park in 2002 and prescribed burn plans are now in place to restore spruce forest types when prescription parameters are met and it is safe to do so.

TNNP has embraced progressive and aggressive forest management techniques to provide natural forest cover types for a variety of ecological purposes and to enhance park visitor experiences.   Continued support from all stakeholders is required to meet management objectives.

Tim Moulton, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd.

Tim MoultonTim is originally from Corner Brook. He received his Forestry Technology diploma from the College of Trades and Technology in St. John’s, NL in 1979 followed by his B. Sc. in Forestry from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1982. He is also a Register Professional Forester (RPF) in NL since the association started in 1998. Tim began his career with Bowater Newfoundland Limited in the spring of 1982 and continues to work there now (Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited (CBPPL)). Tim has worked in many capacities with CBPPL, with most of his time in silviculture, GIS, and planning. At present he is working as the General Operations Superintendent. Tim is married with one son and one daughter.

Examples of Science Integration in the Forest Industry.

In today’s forest sector, efficiency to reduce cost, environmental responsibility to maintain the social license to operate on public lands, and innovation are key ingredients for success. In this presentation I provide you with examples of recent integration of science and technology efforts at CBPPL Woodlands. Our efforts at applying science and technology is multifaceted including work on characterizing quality of fibre on the land base using a multi-scale approach from measurements on the ground to remote sensing, improving mill efficiency by using the fibre available to optimize end product quality and customer demand. We have also implemented the use of FPDatT systems, a tool designed to collect and analyze information on the performance and productivity of machines with real time GPS technology. Other examples of our application of science and technology include, Wood truck AVL systems, SPOT / InReach units, FSC research initiatives, investigation of drones for forestry use, and , bio-energy research. Our success is largely a result of our strong partnerships with Universities, government agencies and dedicated scientists.

Blair Adams, Centre for Forest Science and Innovation, DNR NL

Blair AdamsBlair is currently the Director of the Centre for Forest Science and Innovation, in which capacity he leads forest research of the Department on Natural Resources and collaborators in ecological, economic and social areas.

Integrating New Science in Forest Management.

Science will mean the difference between success and failure in the transformation of forest management and the forest industry. Social and ecological values also require explicit integration, without which the social contract is at risk. Further, resources and landbase use needs to be optimized in integrated management structures. Fortunately, science can provide the knowledge and tools to manage these. By its very nature, knowledge is disbursed, and dialogue is critical to the determination of a collective vision and successful transformation. The CFSI vision can be seen as a starting point for the future of a sector to include bio-refining (with respect to technologies, resource options and business models), bio-energy (with reference to life cycle analysis, climate change and local conditions and markets), advanced wood products, developing markets, niche products, traditional pulp and paper and lumber products, and a resource services and technology sector. Strategic location of processing clusters and a philosophy of management for quality, as opposed to emphasis on quantity, will further aid transformation. Detailed fibre, ecological and other data will facilitate trade-offs for optimal solutions. We have the human resources and access to technology. The collective desire will be a key determinant in achieving a diverse, sustainable forest sector to provide pride and value for generations to come in Newfoundland and Labrador.


 Field Presentations

Jason Glode

Jason GlodeJason received his Masters of Science in Forestry at the University of New Brunswick and is a Registered Professional Forester in Newfoundland and Labrador. For the past six years he has been a District Ecosystem Manager with the Department of Natural Resources, Forestry Services Branch. He is currently the District Ecosystem Manager for the Avalon Peninsula, Forest Management District 1.

Hender’s Forest Management Area and Evaluating the successfulness of planting spruce for protecting and promoting the regeneration of balsam fir on disturbed sites.

The objective of the study is to promote regeneration of balsam fir in forest stands that remain in a degraded state as a result of multiple disturbances. The work completed to date includes an experimental plant with three common spruce species used in silviculture in NL. The district has established 67 plots to evaluate vegetation response and early stages of stand regeneration across different species plantations. It is anticipated that this work will provide scientific support to indicate which planting regimes protect and promote regeneration of balsam fir. The data will contribute to other long term monitoring projects that study the effects of moose browse on stand regeneration across NL and ultimately provide scientific information to support decision making in forest ecosystem management planning.

Emilie Kissler

Emilie KisslerEmilie has always been interested in cross-disciplinary work and her focus is on plant-animal interactions. She completed her masters at the University of Sydney in Australia where her research was focused on introduced ungulate impacts on the chemical response of native forest ecosystems. She is currently completing her PhD at MUN on the impacts of moose on forest regeneration across Newfoundland. She has just completed the final field season for her PhD and is now busy with analyses and write-up. Emilie has worked with the provincial Wildlife Division as a research biologist on topics ranging from moose health to lichen abundance and diversity.

Exclosure Use as a Tool to Study the Impacts of Moose on Forest Regeneration.

Moose (Alces americanus) were introduced to the island of Newfoundland in 1878 and 1904. In 2014, the island population was estimated to be 116,700. In most regions of the Boreal Forest plants typically share a common co-evolutionary history with their primary browsers. Plants in Newfoundland have evolved in the absence of moose, the current primary mammalian browser on the island. In the absence of natural predators, moose populations have reached overabundant levels, with densities that are higher on the island of Newfoundland, than elsewhere in North America. As a result, regeneration trajectories of balsam fir-dominated (Abies balsamea) forests have been altered by overbrowsing in large areas across the island. The impacts of moose on the boreal forest ecosystem in Newfoundland have resulted in changes in forest stand composition and structure, with some systems tipping towards other forest types. These changes are being exacerbated by other ecological and anthropogenic factors such as insect outbreaks, forest stand blow-downs from wind, fires, and forestry practices. Through the use of fencing exclosures my research examines moose impacts on forest regeneration across spatial scales through the evaluation of: (1) cumulative “legacy” effects of historical forestry practices, historical moose densities, and historical environmental disturbances; and (2) succession and regeneration rates of native species.

André Arsenault

André ArsenaultAndré Arsenault is a forest ecologist with the Canadian Forest Service in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, and an adjunct professor in biology at Thompson Rivers University, and in Environmental Science at Grenfell campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland. His research program is focused on disturbance ecology and conservation biology and how to apply this information into planning, operations and policy. He had the great privilege to study a wide range of forest ecosystems in British Columbia including coastal and interior cedar-hemlock rainforests, dry forests, and high-elevation forests. More recently, André expanded his program to the very cool boreal forest of Newfoundland and Labrador where he is continuing his work on lichens and forest dynamics. Recent accomplishments include a book on inland rainforests, a special issue of Forest Ecology and Management on forest biodiversity, a special issue of Ecoscience on the boreal forest, and a number of manuscripts and a book chapter that challenge conventional wisdom on fire ecology and management of dry forests of western North America.

Arsenault, André1, Bill Clarke2, Dmitry Svesnhikov3

1 Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Atlantic Forestry Centre 2. Centre for Forest Science and Innovation, Department of Natural Resources, Newfoundland and Labrador3 Grenfell campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Distribution ecology of the boreal felt lichen in a ribbed moraine landscape of Eastern Newfoundland.

The boreal felt lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum) is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Although the species has suffered major reductions in parts of its range, new findings in Alaska, Russia, and Newfoundland have significantly increased the estimated population and geographic range. The Newfoundland population is particularly interesting because some areas are showing rapid declines while other areas are either showing increases or relatively stable populations. We sampled populations of the boreal felt lichen in plots systematically placed along transects in a ribbed moraine landscape. Our intent was to capture as much of the ecological variation in order to better understand the population structure of this species in different habitats and to develop a predictive habitat model to assist with strategic land-use planning. The vast majority of the boreal felt lichen thalli were on balsam fir trees between 1 and 2 metres in height. The number of thalli per tree varied between 1 and 19. We observed several factors that are likely to have an influence on the dynamics of the boreal felt lichen populations including competition from chlorolichens, mortality of the phorophyte, and physical damage from falling trees. This information combined with a detailed ecosystem mapping project will help in the development of a predictive habitat model. We will discuss further the dynamics of the boreal felt lichen populations in the context of a changing forest ecosystem and the management implications for an endangered species in a managed landscape.


Poster Presentations

Dendro-ecology of Eastern white pine on the Island of Newfoundland.

André Arsenault1, Robert LeBlanc2, Dmitry Sveshnikov2, and Bill Clarke3

1. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Atlantic Forestry Centre, 2. Grenfell campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 3.Centre For Science and Innovation, Department of Natural Resources, Newfoundland and Labrador

“When sun rays crown thy pine clad hills” begins the famous ode to Newfoundland and expresses well the affection Newfoundland foresters have for Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.). Although we can’t be certain that Sir Charles Cavendish Boyle was referring specifically to this species, it is a very good educated guess. Eastern white pine is a species that was valued by many First Nations people and later played an historic role in the building of ships during the Napoleonic wars and in the development of North America. This mighty conifer reaches its eastern and northern limits in Newfoundland, yet surprisingly very little is known and nothing has been published about the ecology of this species on the Island. We have initiated a study focused on the dendro-ecology of Eastern white pine in Newfoundland. Our objective is to develop a robust sampling approach to assess the dynamics of forests currently or historically associated with Eastern white pine. In this poster we present preliminary observations from 3 study sites in western and central Newfoundland. We found that Eastern white pine has very broad ecological amplitude ranging from bogs and fens to mesic productive stands and to xeric cliffs and rocky outcrops. Although this conifer species can be locally abundant it probably never formed single species stands. Many areas logged over 100 years ago still contain the ghost stumps of this pine, but few have returned to pine. We hypothesize that this is mainly due to lack of proper seed source or seed bed. Although the blister rust had an impact on this conifer throughout its range on the continent and in Newfoundland, the species is still well represented in all age classes throughout its range in Newfoundland. The oldest pine we found so far is 372 years old near Red Indian Lake making it one of the oldest known trees in Newfoundland and Labrador. This species is showing great variation in morphology from straight tall trees reaching 73 cm in diameter to multiple stem bonsais, to multiple stem krumholtz. We suggest that this baseline information is important to inform future management of these “pine clad hills”.

Ecosystem response 20 years after intensive forest harvesting for bioenergy: a multidisciplinary approach.

André Arsenault1, Brian Titus2, and Evelyne Thiffault3, Patricia Baines1, and Dmitry Sveshnikov4

1. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Atlantic Forestry Centre, 2. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre. 3. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, 4. Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Bioenergy produced from biomass left behind from forestry operations is renewable, reduces fossil fuel use, and has economic potential in Canada. However, it is important to understand the environmental impacts of intensive forest harvesting and use this knowledge to guide policy and develop best management practices to ensure the sustainable management of our forests. We examined forest ecosystem response to conventional and whole-tree harvesting of white birch stands 20 years after treatment along a productivity gradient at 3 locations in Central Newfoundland. Clear-cutting significantly increased the diversity of vascular plants, most likely because of increased light levels, but the intensity of biomass removals did not appear to affect the abundance or diversity of vascular plant species. However, significant differences in the abundance of deadwood and associated non-vascular flora persist 20 years after treatment. The combination of clear-cutting and intensive browsing by moose accelerated succession when conifers were abundant in the understory. Sites with low conifer regeneration developed into alder thickets. The current policy of restricting full tree harvest in Newfoundland and Labrador is supported by our results.

Lake Melville, Labrador Ecological Land Classification – Old Study New Interpretations. 

Denes Bajzak1, and Bruce A. Roberts2

1. Ph.D. Retired professor, Faculty of Engineering, MUN, Research Associate with the Forest Ecology Centre. 2. RPF. Retired Sr. Research Scientist, Atlantic Forestry Centre, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Currently Ecologist & Community Advisor Tree Canada and Research Associate with the Forest Ecology Centre.

The subcommittee on Multiple Land Use of the Canadian National Committee on Forest Land defined integrated resource management as the “ the application of management strategies to achieve the maximum output from the optimized use of natural resources of a specific area for the benefit of a reference group and its successors (Lacate 1967). To facilitate this goal a ‘national bio-physical’ land classification system was developed by the above committee. Later the system was referred to as the “Canadian Ecological Land Classification System” or “CELC” and later known only as the “ELC” approach; with defining levels related to scale from general to site specific. This land classification system is based on the existing interrelationship between geology, physiography, soil, and vegetation. To test the developed system some pilot projects were established throughout Canada. One of first projects was carried out in the Lake Melville area, Labrador (Bajzak 1973, Bajzak & Roberts 1984). Although the work was available in report form and like many research project results this earlier investigation was not used very much as there was not much development in this part of Labrador. In the past few years this has changed and this early piece of work has been re- evaluated and new interpretations from this land inventory project forms the basis of this new paper.

The effect of flooding on the vegetation in the impact zones of the Churchill Falls Labrador power plant.

Denes Bajzak1, and Bruce A. Roberts2

1. Ph.D. Retired professor, Faculty of Engineering, MUN, Research Associate with the Forest Ecology Centre. 2. RPF. Retired Sr. Research Scientist, Atlantic Forestry Centre, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Currently Ecologist & Community Advisor Tree Canada and Research Associate with the Forest Ecology Centre.

The Churchill Falls Hydro Project (called the ‘Upper Churchill Development’) in Labrador, was initiated in the late 1960s. At that time, in general, not much attention was paid to the impact of such development on the flooding of vegetation, especially forest stands. Both forested and un-forested terrestrial vegetation types were flooded (244,915 ha creating some 74,075 ha of Islands) in the construction of the Main (Smallwood) Reservoir. The percentages of forested and un-forested areas lost to flooding are 64% and 36% respectively. The percent of commercial forests lost to flooding is approximately 1% and the non-commercial forests are 99% (with a total volume of approximately 10 million cubic meters of wood). The effect of flooding and of the constructions, both above and below the Main Reservoir major dyke system, were the subject of our investigation. This poster provides the background of the project, reports on the early phases of construction with the descriptions of the pre and post flooded conditions related to vegetation and land cover types surrounding the reservoir. Currently there has been a start to develop the so called “Lower Churchill Area” by establishing a new power plant at Muskrat Falls and later at Gull Island with associated reservoirs. These new plants would use the discharged water of the plant from Churchill Falls and the additional water collected from some of the Churchill River Basin. The information in this poster could have relevance to the environmental evaluation of these new developments. This poster also reports on the effect of building the dykes during the early phases of construction with the descriptions of the post flooded conditions below the dykes as related to vegetation. The direct disturbances were excavations, fills, and partial and/or total removal of vegetation cover from fabrication platforms and from gravel and rock extraction sites. No new vegetation cover established in the abandoned quarries and gravel pits. However camp sites and manufacturing platforms were subsequently taken over by alder growth. The indirect disturbances were the flooding of land areas and the de-watering of sections of the original river and lowering of the water level in some lakes. The results of flooding and the de-watering of some nearby areas are illustrated with aerial photographs and figures showing the environmental impact zones and new shoreline development. The flooded trees in large and small pools of stagnant water died suddenly and remain in their original place. New vegetation cover developed on the exposed shorelines of de-watered rivers and lakes. This poster also provides the rate of bio-chemical and physical deterioration of flooded trees in typical forest stands. The analysis of samples taken from selected trees indicated that their lignin content slightly increased and their elastic module decreased in the short term (three years after flooding). A model for the new shoreline development was developed and illustrated with graphics and with an aerial photographic stereogram in a typical flooded forest stand. Major changes were taking place within three years after the flooding. The most significant changes had occurred near the edge of the reservoir due to the continuous variation of water level caused by the amount of seasonal precipitation and by the required drawdown of water to operate the power plant. In general, the water in the Main Reservoir reaches its maximum elevation in August, after this (from October to May) the water level slowly decreases during the ice cover. Ice forms first, when the water level is high, then the water level drops resulting in large vertical forces on the trees trapped in the ice. When the water in the reservoir is at its lowest point (at the spring) the ice cruses the trees, and when the water rises (in July) the ice up-roots the captured trees.

Fluxes of dissolved organic carbon within soils of mature and regenerating black spruce stands.

Keri Bowering1, Kate Edwards2, Sue Ziegler1.

1. Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2. Canadian Forest Service, Atlantic Forestry Centre

Soil organic carbon can be lost from forest organic horizons through gaseous emissions, via microbial processing, and also by leaching of dissolved organic carbon (DOC); this DOC contributes to downstream carbon pools both in mineral soil horizons and in aquatic systems. The mobility of DOC thus serves as an important component of the significant and recently recognized terrestrial-to-inland water carbon flux within the global carbon cycle. However, estimates of the annual DOC flux within boreal soil profiles are not well constrained, nor are the environmental and ecological processes that drive them well understood. This research examines the quantity of DOC that is exported from organic horizons of boreal forests and describes some of the ecological and environmental controls on these pathways.

We investigated the role of ecosystem structure in determining DOC flux from organic soils by comparing flux rates in mature and regenerating black spruce stands. Passive lysimeters were installed in an experimental site consisting of mature black spruce and regenerating stands. The regenerating stands are characterized by shallower organic soils and warmer and wetter soils. Results reveal that DOC flux from organic to mineral soils is related to precipitation patterns in both of these ecosystem types; however the wetter soils tend to result in greater DOC flux than the generally drier soils of the mature forest sites. We examined the environmental controls on DOC flux from organic soils by taking frequent measurements throughout all seasons. Results from lysimeter collections reveal that both precipitation regimes and soil moisture conditions influence the amounts and timing of DOC export from the organic horizons of these forest sites. An improved understanding of the climatic determinants of DOC flux rates will inform modeling efforts and predictions regarding the vulnerability of soil carbon stocks to disturbance events that alter weather patterns and hydrological regimes.

More fires in a warmer Labrador? Implications for future forests.

Joel Bowman, Stephen Parmiter, Carissa Brown.

Memorial University, Department of Geography, Northern Biogeography Lab.

Climate change is leading to novel environmental conditions in ecosystems around the world, which in turn are causing changes in ecosystem structure, health, and function. In the northern boreal forest ecosystems of Canada, climate change is resulting in higher temperatures leading to longer, warmer, and in some cases drier summers. These factors may lead to an increase in fire activity, with more frequent and larger fires. Changes from the historic fire regime could lead to decreased forest productivity or altered forest composition if the tree species present are not adapted to the new regime. Changing fire regimes have already been detected in the western boreal forest; however, scant research has been conducted on the effects of climate change on the fire regime of Labrador, and the subsequent effects on forest regeneration. Climate and fire models predict an increase in fire activity throughout the boreal forest, including Labrador. Our research aims to detect changes in the fire return interval in the recent past, and assess the impact of these changes on future forest composition. A combination of dendrochronological analysis and field surveys will be used in recently burned black spruce stands to determine the historic fire regime and past forest regeneration densities. We will compare that density and composition to recent post-fire regeneration to assess whether recent recruitment will match pre-fire stand densities. The results of this research will provide an assessment of whether the fire regime of Labrador is changing with climate, and the potential implications on the structure and composition of ecologically and economically important forest stands.

Restoring balsam fir forest: Mitigating the impacts of overabundant moose in Terra Nova National Park.

Louis Charron and Luise Hermanutz.

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Non-native species often have serious negative effects on natural ecosystems, possibly resulting in alternative successional trajectories. Newfoundland is the world’s 16th largest island and non-native species outnumber the few indigenous species. For example, 12 of the 26 mammals present on the island are introduced species, including moose (Alces americanus), the island’s largest herbivore. Terra Nova National Park (TNNP) encompasses coastal forests dominated by balsam fir (Abies balsamea), which is primarily driven by natural insect disturbance. However, the island’s high moose density has resulted in the regeneration failure of the balsam fir forests. Due to moose overbrowsing, forests remain open following natural disturbance, becoming “moose meadows”, rather than regenerating into a normal closed canopy forests. Multi-aged balsam fir forests provide critical habitat for many rare native species making forest restoration a priority. Forest restoration by seedling planting, combined with the recent implementation of a moose hunt in TNNP, is seen as the first steps to reverse native forest loss. To develop sustainable restoration protocols, we planted 10,000 seedlings at different densities, under various ground treatments and in a range of disturbance types across the park. Preliminary results show that ground manipulations removing grasses did not improve seedling survival, suggesting that grasses act as ‘nurse’ plants, facilitating survival in the first summer of growth. Seedling growth and browsing damage were also monitored. The study’s outcomes will lead to the development of scientifically based restoration protocol for balsam fir forests degraded by overabundant herbivores.

Climate effect on microbial community composition in a boreal forest latitudinal transect.

Lukas Kohla, Jérôme Laganièreab, Kate Edwardsc, Sharon A. Billingsd, Penny L Morrilla, Susan E. Zieglera.

1. Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada, b. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, QC, Québec, Canada, c. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Atlantic Forestry Centre, Corner Brook, NL, Canada, d. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Kansas Biological Survey, University of KS, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

Given the central role of soil microbes in nutrient cycling and carbon mineralization, knowledge regarding the effect of temperature on the composition of the soil microbial community is essential if we want to predict the effect of climate change on forest ecosystems. However, cross-site studies (climate transects) and in-situ warming experiments often result in contradicting conclusions with differences in community composition reported between sites of contrasting climate, but not after in-situ warming. We analyzed the concentration and composition of phospholipids fatty acids (PLFA) in the organic (L, F, H) and top mineral (B) horizons of forest stands within two regions of a latitudinal transect located near Doyles and Cartwright, NL which differ by 5.6 °C mean annual temperature. Unlike in most continental transects, higher temperatures in the southern region is balanced by higher precipitation. Field sites were selected to represent mature forests of similar type within the natural range of Abies balsamea. We found a highly stratified microbial community with fungal dominance in shallow and bacterial dominance in deeper soil horizons. Within each of the horizons, no differences between warm and cold region were detected. We did, however, detect regional differences in the distribution of organic matter and the location of biomass among soil horizons between the two regions. Our results suggest that differences in community composition observed in other climate transects likely resulted not from temperature but from secondary factors like vegetation, humidity or soil pH. Temperature adaptations of the microbial community composition therefore likely manifest as a change in the thickness of the soil horizons ultimately resulting in a different community in the entire soil profile rather than changes within each soil horizon. Such a mechanism results from changes over on prolonged time scales (decades to centuries) not detected by short term warming experiments.

Warming doesn’t lead to soil carbon losses, however, terrestrial-to-aquatic fluxes in the boreal forest landscape likely increase with climate change.

Susan E. Zieglera, Kate Edwardsb, Ronald Bennerc, Sharon A. Billingsd, Jérôme Laganièrea,e, Mike Philbenc, Frances A. Podrebaraca, Xinbiao Zhub.

1. Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada, b. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Atlantic Forestry Centre, Corner Brook, NL, Canada, c. Marine Science Program and Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA, d. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Kansas Biological Survey, University of KS, Lawrence, Kansas, USA, e. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, QC, Québec.

Understanding soil organic matter (SOM) biogeochemistry in boreal forests is critical given climate projections and the large store of soil carbon (C) in these ecosystems. Assessing climate feedbacks, however, requires the study of these systems on relevant time scales that can be accessed through the use of natural climate gradients. Our study of a boreal forest climate transect is aimed at understanding whether climate warming increases the turnover and fate of soil C. Organic and surface mineral horizon soils were collected from three regions along a transect spanning 5˚ latitude and >5˚C mean annual temperature (MAT).   Three sites, similar in forest type, were sampled within each region to obtain annual litterfall and soil profile chemical composition in conjunction with soil respiration rates and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) fluxes. Losses of soil C via respiration were over 40% greater in the warmer region soils. Despite these increased losses, organic horizon C stocks were higher in the warmer regions and similar among regions in the mineral horizon. Litterfall inputs increased >2-fold indicating that soil C inputs likely increase congruent with the lack of soil C stock declines with warming. The increased SOM turnover in the warmer region was also supported by the younger mean age of the mineral soil C. The extent of SOM degradation, detected through geochemical properties, increased with depth at all sites. However, there was no evidence of an increased degradative state with regional MAT. Rather the significant increase in soil DOC flux observed with regional MAT increased soil chemical fractionation. Our results suggest that temperature is not a driver of soil C losses in these forests. Climate change, however, will increase ecosystem metabolism and C fluxes likely supporting greater terrestrial-to-aquatic fluxes relevant to both carbon loss and sequestration in these landscapes (e.g. C export vs. weathering). Furthermore, the increased ecosystem fluxes with climate change observed here represent a plausible mechanism for the recent iron and DOC increases in high latitude streams observed over the past few decades.