WELD-01-011

Effects of Timber Harvesting Methods on Terrestrial Lichens and Understory Plants in West-Central Alberta
Sponsor: 
Weldwood of Canada Ltd.
Lead Researcher: 
Kenneth Kranrod, Masters student, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
Body: 
The purpose of this study was to examine the short-term effects of various timber harvesting operations and identify specific logging methods that reduce mechanical damage to terrestrial lichens, shrubs, herbaceous plants and terrestrial bryophytes present in woodland caribou habitat northwest of Hinton.

Pre-harvest measurements were carried out in summer 1994, blocks were harvested in fall 1994/winter 1995, and post-harvest measurements were completed in summer 1995. Harvest operations consisted of combinations of summer or winter harvest, stump-side or roadside delimbing, and presence or absence of scarification. The eight combinations of harvest variables were used to determine the differential effects of each practice as well as any possible additive effects.

The study found that all species decreased in abundance following each treatment combination. The greatest reductions in lichen and plant communities were observed following summer logging and stump-side delimbing with scarification, with the smallest reductions in lichen and plant communities observed following winter logging and stump-side delimbing without scarification. A greater understanding of timber harvest methods that reduce ground disturbance is important when considering the maintenance of important lichen forage species for woodland caribou immediately following harvest activities.