Project Code: WELD-01-022
Sponsor:Weldwood of Canada Ltd.

The Foothills Model Forest, in cooperation with Weldwood of Canada Ltd. and Jasper National Park, initiated a research program to study natural disturbance in the Foothills Model Forest. The goal of the research was to examine the role of disturbance in the Foothills and Rocky Mountain natural regions of Alberta.

A large dataset consisting of stand origin maps, ecological classification data, forest inventory data, soil mapping, digital elevation model data, and lightening strike data was assembled. The dataset was then used to calculate forested area, natural sub-region areas, age class distribution, burned area, size of the fires, patch shapes, and pattern in relation to lightning incidence.

Each natural sub-region was found to have its own pattern of rates, sizes, and shapes of fires as well as densities of historical lightning activity. Although logical hypotheses could explain the movement of fires in different areas, the data did not allow for a complete review of landscape fire behavior. This study demonstrated that fire is neither a random nor a ubiquitous process, rather fire pattern and behavior are surprisingly landscape specific(i.e. natural sub-region).