Project Code: ALPAC-01-013
Program: FRIP
Area:Applied Research
Sponsor:Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.
Region:NE Alberta
Project Status:Complete

Object & Deliverables

The primary purpose of this project was to evaluate the rates of natural regeneration on energy sector disturbances compared to regeneration of cutblocks and burns. The study also looked at the impacts of the rates of regeneration on the sustained yield of forest resources in Alberta’s boreal forest.
Project objectives included determining the presence of and rates of natural vegetation regeneration on seismic lines and wellsites; comparsion of these rates with reforestation on forest cutblocks, burns, & new disturbances; and an evaluation of these variable regeneration rates on the sustained yield of timber volumes.
The study took place on Al-Pac’s Forest Management Agreement (FMA) area on deciduous dominated stands. The three age classes sampled were 0-10 years, 11-20 years, and greater than 20 years. The data for reforestation of cutblocks and burns was obtained from a previous study in the Al-Pac FMA.

Final Report

The study found that stem densities increased over time on wellsites, and densities on seismic lines did not differ substantially among age classes. There was a rapid decline in stem density over time in both fire and cutblocks. Stem densities on seismic lines and wellsites were considerably lower than burns and cutblocks in the youngest and middle age classes but were fairly similar in the oldest age class. Only 4% of stems on wellsites and 2% of stems on seismic lines were taller than 5 m after 28 years. In burns and cutblocks, 80% of the stems were taller than 5 m after 28 years. On sites older than 28 years the majority of stems on wellsites and seismic lines had diameters (at 1.3 m) of 0 and 2 cm compared to burns and cutblocks which had diameters between 4 and 6 cm. Regeneration on seismic lines and wellsites differed considerably from cutblocks and burns, most likely due to differences in site conditions. Such differences may include changes in soil physical and chemical properties; soil nutrients; site hydrology; availability of propagules for regeneration; and competition with sown agronomic forages and herbivory. Specific causes of poor forest productivity on wellsites and seismic lines need to be determined in order to assess the permanence of productivity loss, mitigate present losses in productivity, and prevent future losses.
The results of this research was published in an eighteen page report entitled “Natural Reforestation on Seismic Lines and Wellsites in Comparison to Natural Burns or Logged Sites” dated December 2001.