Testing Alternative Silvicultural Systems for Harvesting and Regenerating Mineral Wetlands
Daishowa Marubeni International Ltd.
Lead Researcher: 
D. MacIsaac, Canadian Forest Service, Edmonton, Alberta
This multi-year study explores alternative silviculture systems as a means of improving conifer reforestation success on mineral wetland sites. The study has six major components: regeneration silviculture and ground cover assessment, wind damage and wind firmness monitoring, soil temperature monitoring, groundwater hydrology, monitoring local meteorological conditions and microclimate conditions, and plant community response to harvesting.

A white spruce-black spruce/Labrador tea/Horsetail plant community (ecosite phase G1) within the Central Boreal Mixedwood Subregion, 110 km north of Red Earth, Alberta was selected for the research. Two harvesting systems are being evaluated: narrow clear-cut alternative strips and a patch clear-cut. Performance of planted white spruce, black spruce and larch, as well as seeded white spruce is being monitored on scarified (mounded) vs. non-scarified areas. The site was harvested and site prepared in March 1997.

The first year seedling survival was found to be significantly improved in areas harvested using the strip-cut system as opposed to patch cut system, and was best on mounded sites as opposed to sites that had not been mounded. The best survival after one year was 98% for both white and black spruce in the strip-cut. The vegetation development was also found to be reduced on the mounded sites, especially for grass in areas harvested using the patch cut system. Tree blowdown in the strip-cut area was moderate, with no large blowdown events occurring since the first month following harvest. The study also reports steep declines in water table levels which occurred in 1998. Phase II of the study continues under the supervision of Tolko – High Level as project number TOLKHL-01-009.