Forestry partners engage in research trial

by Michael Lee

The Medway Community Forest Co-operative (MCFC), Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and WestFor Management Inc. are collaborating on a research project which will look at different forest management techniques on Crown land.

Each party will try a different harvesting method and measure the development of spruce and pine forests as a result.

Mary Jane Rodger, general manager of the MCFC, said they all have the same end goal of promoting natural forest regeneration.

"It's just each prescription has a little bit of a different way of doing it," she said.

The trial will take place on a roughly 90-year-old, 20 hectare piece of MCFC land in Annapolis County.

Rodger said the MCFC will remove about 35 per cent of the stands from its section, thinning areas where the trees are densest and creating gaps or openings where there is "advanced regeneration," or areas where small five to 10 year old seedlings have already been established.

DNR will conduct a "seed tree" harvest, leaving behind about 35 pine and oak trees per hectare for seeding while opening up the canopy.

WestFor, meanwhile, will have one 14 metre-wide clearcut strip stretching across the length of the site, two seven metre-wide strips on either side for thinning and another 28 metre strip that will remain untouched, all of which will be performed twice.

The work has already begun, with WestFor and New Germany-based contractor Backcountry Farm and Forestry operating on the land for the trial.

The amount of regeneration will be measured before and after harvest treatments, and will be reassessed in 2018 and 2022.

"We're just hoping to look at ways where we can implement more partial harvesting into our operations," said Rodger.

"In doing so, being able to develop more uneven-aged structure within our forests, so we have different trees of all different ages coming up at the same time versus one uniform age that isn't necessarily the best for wildlife."

The MCFC is still being piloted as a potential model for forest management and Rodger said its agreement is expected to end on January 31, 2018.

The hope is to get a long-term agreement after that, but the province is currently engaged in a forestry review which may not produce a final report with recommendations until next February.

Rodger said she thinks government is pretty happy with community forestry and even if the province chose not to renew the agreement, she imagines DNR will continue with the research trial.

The MCFC operates on 15,000 hectares of land in the Medway district of the former Bowater lands.

The agreement was first negotiated in 2013 alongside DNR, with the goal of developing a long-term plan for forest management, while at the same time fostering future business.

A three-year agreement was signed in January 2015.

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