Reclamation of Cutblocks Destroyed by Wildfire in 2006/Hinton Wood Products – a Division of West Fraser Mills Ltd.

Funding:$266,704
FRIAA Participant:Hinton Wood Products (HWP)
Status:Ongoing

In Alberta, forestry companies need to meet strict reforestation requirements after harvesting, but wildfire can interrupt the good work they’ve already done or are in the process of doing. When wildfire damages reforested cutblocks, forest companies are typically relieved of any further responsibility for the burnt over area, but the damage caused by the fire can have negative impacts on forest sustainability for years to come. The Wildfire Reclamation Program (WRP) was created to help overcome these impacts.

In 2006, Hinton Wood Products – a Division of West Fraser Mills Ltd. (HWP) – experienced this first hand when three separate wildfires destroyed 174 hectares of previously reforested cutblocks.

We had already reforested all of the blocks damaged by these fires, so we were counting on these trees to be there in the future”, explains Diane Renaud, Silviculture Superintendent for HWP. “If the areas were not reforested again, there would be less forest growing for everyone. This would have long term impacts on forest sustainability, job stability and forest resiliency.”

In 2007, HWP applied for funding from the WRP to undertake a new reforestation project on the burned cutblocks. From start to finish, this project will take 12-14 years. By the fall of 2009, HWP had completed initial assessments and finished re-planting all the damaged area. Since then, they’ve monitored the cutblocks and completed additional treatments as required. Establishment surveys completed in 2014 confirmed that treated blocks were meeting or exceeding provincial reforestation standards, but the project won’t be finished until performance surveys, currently scheduled for 2019, confirm the sustainability of these new forested areas. The WRP offers long-term funding to help complete reforestation activities in the most effective way.

We’re excited about this project because it’s important for us to steward the forest by growing back healthy trees. We have a lot of pressure on the land base in this area – coal mines, roads, etc. – so, if we don’t reforest, it reduces forestland, which can hurt the whole community,” explains Diane.

The WRP assists in sustaining forests to help keep Alberta’s forest resource thriving. HWP is excited to continue working with FRIAA on this project in the upcoming years.