The Role of Buffer Strips for Maintenance of Terrestrial, Riparian and Aquatic Communities in the Boreal Plains-Part II Post Harvesting Affects
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher: 
L. Morgantini, Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, Edmonton, Alberta
In Alberta, there is a unique research opportunity as the forest industry is still in the initial stages of harvesting Alberta’s northern forests. The TROLS project (Terrestrial and Riparian Organisms, Lakes and Streams) examines how riparian buffer strips of differing widths affect plant and animal communities in riparian and aquatic habitats around lakes and streams in northern Alberta.

The research focused around a three-phase experiment. First, a baseline condition for two years of terrestrial, aquatic and hydrological conditions (including fish and wildlife) was established. Second, large areas of the study watersheds were clearcut in an experimental design to leave replicate control areas and areas with buffer strip widths of 0- to 200 metres. Third, the effects on terrestrial, aquatic and hydrological conditions were monitored for three years following harvest. The TROLS project consists of lake and stream components. Twelve experimental lakes were selected in 1993, and in spring 1994, the selection of experimental streams was initiated.

Eleven headwater lakes were monitored for nutrients and plankton two years before and two years after variable watershed harvesting. There was no evidence that buffer strip width (ie. 20m, 100m, 200m) influenced lake response. The results suggest that activities within the entire watershed should be the focus of catchment-lake interactions. The TROLS project is ongoing. Updates are available on the TROLS website at www.biology.ualberta.ca/trols/trolweb.html.