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1. Forest Threats: Climate Change

1.1. Climate change and forest fire studies Climate change and forest fire studies examine the lasting effects of climate change and forest harvesting on forests and watersheds through long-term studies, such as the one at the Turkey Lakes Watershed. Researchers are using spatial analysis to examine the role of climate in natural systems and the impacts of and adaptations to climate change. Work also includes developing knowledge of fire behaviour to advance the use of fire management tools that can, for example, help minimize the impacts of disaster fires by providing real-time maps of fire hazard conditions.

2. Ontario's forest regions and tree species

2.1. Four main regions in Ontario

2.2. 1.Hudson's Bay lowlands in the far north, 2.The boreal forest region in northern Ontario, 3. The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest in southern and central Ontario, 4. The deciduous forest in southern Ontario

3. Biodiversity: ecological services provided by forests

3.1. Biodiversity is the building block for all of the ecosystem services on which we depend; it produces oxygen, food, clean water and stores carbon.

3.2. Forest management planning involves the consideration of biodiversity long before anybody actually goes into the forest. When forest management activities are conducted, they are done in such as way as to protect biodiversity at multiple scales.

3.3. Biodiversity is not the same everywhere; each ecosystem has its own unique characteristics.

3.4. As forest composition changes and structures are altered, habitats can become fragmented. This change can be good for some species and negative for others. Populations of snowshoe hare for example, increase in forests that are growing back after disruption by wildfires or logging operations.

3.4.1. Shade tolerant species, such as trembling aspen, grow better following harvesting. Harvesting creates open conditions that aspen requires to become established and stimulates the growth of new trees by removing large stems and increasing soil temperatures.

3.4.2. Woodland caribou prefer relatively large, continuous tracts of forested land in which to forage, move between summer and winter habitats, mate and raise their young.

3.5. Climate change is affecting biodiversity in the boreal forest now largely because the seasons are changing and as a result of the phenology, in other words the way in which the season's progress is changing. Vegetation changes as a result of the season's changing mean there may be a temporal disconnect between when animals like moose or caribou have their calves and when green vegetation is available.

3.6. In collaboration with provincial colleagues, scientists with Natural Resources Canada conduct research that informs the development of sustainable forest management practices and policies in Canada. These policies are designed to help conserve and protect the boreal forest's unique biodiversity.

3.6.1. By monitoring forest indicators, scientists are able to measure pressures on and changes in the state of biodiversity. Particularly in forest systems, indicators are used as a way of measuring how well species are doing. For example, caribou, moose or bird populations may be monitored as a measure of how well they are doing or how well they are responding to change.

3.7. Forest ecosystem research at the Great Lakes Forestry Centre involves generating knowledge of the impacts of human-induced disturbances in forest ecosystems, and informing the development of ecosystem-based forest management policy to sustain ecological integrity. Work includes examining the ecological impacts and economic analysis of biomass harvesting on site productivity, soil nutrients and biodiversity.

4. Birds: understanding how birds respond to disturbances in the forest

4.1. scientists are studying birds in Canada's boreal forest. Birds are abundant in the boreal because of its vast size and the variety of habitats that it provides.

4.1.1. Birds are part of the enduring beauty of Canada's forests. They are also a barometer of environmental change. How they respond to disturbances in the forest can suggest how other less visible or harder-to-study species are faring.

4.1.2. Studies around how birds respond to disturbances in the forest relate to both population trends and impacts of forest harvesting

4.1.2.1. Bird populations vary naturally, and the causes of population changes are complex and hard to attribute to any single factor. Population fluctuations may result from both natural causes (weather, fire, insect cycles) and human-related causes (climate change, fire suppression, forest management, forest loss, industrial activities).

4.1.2.2. In Canada's boreal forest, the impact of timber harvesting on bird populations is complicated, differing by species, region, forest type, harvest prescription, length of time after harvest, and so on. Forest harvesting may cause changes in

4.1.2.3. The declines seen in some boreal bird species are likely related to various environmental changes and habitat loss and/or degradation that could be occurring on the breeding grounds, the wintering grounds or in migration stopover habitats.

4.1.2.3.1. Research suggests that winter habitat degradation is one of the most significant factors affecting many migratory birds. Significant amounts of forest cover have been lost in some countries where birds that breed in Canada overwinter.

4.1.2.4. Impacts of forest harvesting

4.1.2.4.1. In Canada's boreal forest, the impact of timber harvesting on bird populations is complicated, differing by species, region, forest type, harvest prescription, length of time after harvest and so on.

4.1.2.4.2. Forest harvesting may cause changes in bird species composition, diversity and abundance, and these changes can be positive, neutral or negative, depending on the species and the types of habitat that it uses.

4.1.2.4.3. Research has shown that harvesting patterns that emulate natural disturbances tend to benefit birds and other wildlife, and promote forest biodiversity in general. As a result, jurisdictions in Canada either require or are moving toward harvesting practices that aim to mimic natural disturbances, and are implementing ecosystem management practices to conserve wildlife habitat.

4.1.2.4.4. Many provinces have also developed action plans to improve their knowledge of biodiversity in the forest by completing inventories, conducting research and carrying out environmental monitoring.

5. Woodland caribou

5.1. Woodland caribou, also known as boreal caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), are found in Canada's boreal forests and the open taiga forests along Hudson Bay.

5.2. Unlike caribou that inhabit the tundra, woodland caribou do not migrate long distances between seasons, instead staying the forest, either alone or in small groups. They need large contiguous areas of suitable habitat with low levels of disturbances.

5.3. Woodland caribou consume tree and ground lichen in winter and lichens, grasses, sedges, forbs, horsetails and shrub leaves in summer. They tend to avoid cleared areas where shrubs favoured by moose and deer are more abundant.

5.4. Threats to woodland caribou

5.4.1. The main threat to woodland caribou is habitat deterioration, either from fragmentation, degradation or loss. Habitat fragmentation can also contribute to an increase in predation.

5.4.1.1. The species adapted to an ecosystem in which forest fires are the main type of disturbance. However, human disturbances such as forest harvesting and road networks fragment wood caribou habitat, creating open areas and extensive young forests that attract species such as moose and deer, which in turn attract increased numbers of predators.

5.5. Northern Ontario Field Study - CFS researchers at GLFC are collaborating with scientists from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests as well as the University of Guelph in a large field study of woodland caribou in northern Ontario. Initiated in 2009, the study is investigating the effects of various habitat disturbances on woodland caribou populations.

5.5.1. More than 140 woodland caribou and about 40 wolves are being tracked over a three-year period in three 10,0000 km2 areas that border the current northern limit for commercial forestry activity in the province. The animals are being tracked using radio-telemetry to gather data on patterns of movement, home range use, predation risk, number of offspring and survival. Some of the radio-collars are equipped with video cameras that are providing important never-before-seen information about caribou behaviours, movements, and diet selection.

5.5.1.1. The data will be used to determine how woodland caribou populations are influenced by forest composition, age and origin, as well as road density, food availability and predator/prey densities.

5.5.1.2. Computer models will be developed and tested for their ability to estimate potential caribou response over time to various forest disturbances and alternative forest management policies, and to evaluate the cumulative effects of various human and natural disturbances.

5.5.1.3. The data and models from the study will contribute to management decisions aimed at protecting woodland caribou in Ontario and across Canada.

6. Natural Disturbances: forest fires

6.1. The FBP system relies on 14 primary data inputs in five general categories: fuel, weather, topography, foliar moisture content, and type and duration of prediction. This data, when combined, provides an indication of expected fire behaviour. For example, the moisture content of the surface fuels, together with the observed wind speed, yields the Initial Spread Index - an indicator of how fast a fire is expected to spread - which in turn is used to calculate a fire's rate of spread (e.g., in kilometers per hour).

6.1.1. The FBP System also used the indices of the Forest Fire Weather Index System and converts them to stand-specific predictions of fire behaviour for all the major forest types across Canada.

6.2. Fire releases significant amounts of carbon and greenhouse gases from Canada's forests each year. In extreme years, carbon emissions from wildland fires across the country approach the level of emissions from all fossil fuel sources.

6.3. With forest fire frequency and severity expected to increase in a changing climate, it is especially important to measure and monitor carbon emissions from fire. NBAC data, fine and coarse spatial resolution satellite data and data from provincial and territorial agencies, are used for estimating emissions in Canada's National Forest Carbon, Monitoring, Accounting and Reporting System.

6.4. During the forest fire season in Canada, hundreds of fires may be burning at any one time, started by lightening strikes and human activity. Not every fire needs to be extinguished. Many will burn themselves out or be put out by wet weather. And not every fire can be extinguished, because firefighting resources are limited.

6.5. To protect life and property and to minimize area and assets lost to forest fires, fire managers must make decisions every day about where to direct Canada's firefighting resources.

6.6. It's the job of fire managers to assess which fires pose a threat to human safety, property and public assets (including homes, businesses, utility corridors, wildlife and merchantable timber) and to then decide what fire-fighting resources are needed and where. In making such decisions, these managers use both their personal experience and information provided by the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS).

6.6.1. The CFFDRS is the principal  source of fire intelligence for all forest fire management agencies in Canada. It is also the most widely applied fire danger rating system in the world.

6.6.1.1. The CCFDRS and the CFS's fire related information products have led to Canada being recognized globally as a leader in fire science and in fire management expertise.

6.6.1.2. This rating system has been fully implemented in parts of the United States and in New Zealand, and components of it have been used in many countries, including Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Argentina, Mexico, Fiji, Indonesia and Malaysia.

6.6.1.3. The CCFDRS is popular because it: is relatively simple to use; can be adapted to a variety of environments; and includes many interpretation aids - such as posters, reference tables, and electronic data processing and display systems - that support a variety of situations.

6.6.2. The future of CCFDRS - the decision-making environment for wildfire managers has changed considerably in recent decades. Of key concern is that the extent of the wildland-urban interface has grown, putting more communities as well as more natural resources at risk. Advances in remote sensing, greater use of information technology and the increasing rapidity of communication have all helped put more detailed and more up-to-date information in the hands of fire managers.

6.6.2.1. Through continued fire research, the CFFDRS is evolving and incorporating these new sources of information, in this way providing fire managers wiht an accurate description of an ever-changing fire environment.

6.6.2.2. Despite the changes in forest management (meaning???) since the CFFDRS was adopted, the system today remains the main information tool used by fire agencies to forecast the potential impacts of a shifting climate on fire hazard, and to develop appropriate adaptation strategies.

6.7. The Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System, which depends solely on weather readings, provides a general measure of fire danger throughout forested and rural areas. The codes and indices of this system are calculated based on a single "standard" forest fuel type (for instance, mostly jack pine and lodgepole pine).

6.7.1. Fire managers use the FWI System to anticipate the potential for daily fire ignition across the landscape, considering fires in two distinct categories:

6.7.1.1. HUMAN-Caused Fire - The likelihood of human-caused fire in an area on a particular day can be predicted based on 1 - how receptive the small, thin forest fuels are to ignition and spread (largely determined by the moisture content of these surface fuels) and 2 - how much human activity is happening in or near the forest (creating "ignition sources"). Clear patterns of this activity can appear, with fires emerging in clusters close to populated areas, roads and railways.

6.7.1.2. LIGHTNING-Caused Fire - Fire managers track the location of all the lightning strikes in their regions, in real time, every day of the fire season. They use this information, along with outputs from the FWI system, to tell them where the pockets of lightning-caused fire can be expected to hold over (grow slowly beneath the surface or in dry rotten logs) and when lightning-caused fires might begin actively spreading.

6.8. The Canadian Forest Fire Behaviour Prediction (FBP) System helps forest managers assess how fast a specific fire could spread in a particular forest type, how much fuel it might consume and, ultimately, how intense that fire might be. The intensity of a fire is the factor a fire manager uses to determine what tactics and resources are needed to fight a fire.

6.9. Wildland Fire Management - over the last 25 years, 'wildland fires' across Canada have consumed an average of 2.3 million hectares a year.

6.9.1. These fires occur in forests, shrub lands and grasslands. Some are uncontrolled wildfires started by lightning or human carelessness. A small number are prescribed fires set by authorized forest managers to mimic natural forest processes that renew and maintain healthy ecosystems.

6.9.2. Wildland fires prevent a challenge for forest management because they have the potential to be harmful as well as beneficial at the same time - on the one hand, wildland fires can threaten communities and destroy vast amounts of timber resources, resulting in costly losses, while, on the other hand, wildand fires are a natural part of the forest ecosystem. They are important in many parts of Canada for maintaining the health and diversity of the forest. In this way, prescribed fires offer a valuable resource management tool for enhancing ecological conditions and eliminating excessive fuel build-up.

6.9.3. The Canadian Forest Service (CFS) has been involved in fire research for decades. The CFS works with partners across the country to increase the knowledge base about wildand fires, and to improve the ability of authorities to predict and manage risks and benefits.

6.9.3.1. Key areas of activity include: studying wildland fire behaviour, including how fuel ignites, flame develops and fire spreads; analyzing the ecological role of fire in Canada's many different forests, and exploring how a changing climate will affect the occurrence and behaviour of fire and other forest disturbances; assessing current fire activity by monitoring forest conditions, keeping track of current fires and evaluating the risk of new fires starting; carrying out all aspects of wildland fire management - from developing prevention strategies to protect people, property and the forest resources, to using fire to attain forestry, wildlife and land-use objectives, and supporting the efforts of the jurisdictions responsible for firefighting.

6.9.4. Canada has about 10% of the world's forests. Each year over the last 25 years, about 8,300 forest fires have occurred. The total area burned varies wildly from year to year, but averages about 2.3 million hectares annually.

6.9.5. Only about 3% of all wildland fires that start each year in Canada grow to more than 200 hectares in area. However, these fires account for 87% of the total area burned across the country.

6.9.6. Fire suppression costs over the last decade in Canada have ranged from about $500 million to $1 billion a year.

7. Wildland Fire Management

7.1. Over the last 25 years, “wildland fires” across Canada have consumed an average of 2.3 million hectares a year. These fires occur in forests, shrub lands and grasslands. Some are uncontrolled wildfires started by lightning or human carelessness. A small number a prescribed fires set by authorized forest managers to mimic natural fire processes that renew and maintain healthy ecosystems.

7.2. Wildland fire management - balancing the bad and the good

7.2.1. Wildland fires present a challenge for forest management because they have the potential to be at once harmful and beneficial. • On the one hand, wildland fires can threaten communities and destroy vast amounts of timber resources, resulting in costly losses. • On the other hand, wild land fires are a natural part of the forest ecosystem and important in many parts of Canada for maintaining the health and diversity of the forest. In this way, prescribed fires offer a valuable resource management tool for enhancing ecological conditions and eliminating excessive fuel build-up. Not all wildland fires should (or can) be controlled. Forest agencies work to harness the force of natural fire to take advantage of its ecological benefits while at the same time limiting its potential damage and costs. This makes fire control strategies a vital component of forest management and emergency management in Canada. Understanding the complex phenomenon of wildland fire begins with understanding the basic physical aspects of fire and the ecological role of fire in forests and other wildland areas. Increasingly accurate assessments of the fire situation across Canada are now helping land managers use forest science to reduce fire risk and optimize the benefits.

7.3. Fire research by the CFS and its partners

7.3.1. The Canadian Forest Service (CFS) has been involved in fire research for decades. The CFS works with partners across the country to increase the knowledge base about wildland fires, and to improve the ability of authorities to predict and manage risks and benefits. Key areas of activity include: • studying wildland fire behaviour, including how fuel ignites, flame develops and fire spreads • analyzing the ecological role of fire in Canada’s many different forests, and exploring how a changing climate will affect the occurrence and behaviour of fire and other forest disturbances • assessing current fire activity by monitoring forest conditions, keeping track of current fires and evaluating the risk of new fires starting • carrying out all aspects of wildland fire management—from developing prevention strategies to protect people, property and the forest resource, to using fire to attain forestry, wildlife and land-use objectives, and supporting the efforts of the jurisdictions responsible for firefighting.

7.4. Facts about wildand fires in Canada

7.4.1. • Canada has about 10% of the world’s forests. Each year over the last 25 years, about 8,300 forest fires have occurred. The total area burned varies wildly from year to year, but averages about 2.3 million hectares annually. • Only 3% of all wildland fires that start each year in Canada grow to more than 200 hectares in area. However, these fires account for 87% of the total area burned across the country. • Fire suppression costs over the last decade in Canada have ranged from about $500 million to $1 billion a year.

8. Forest bioeconomy, bioenergy and bioproducts

8.1. Biomass is a term for the biological material that comes from living or recently living plants, including trees, from their roots, trunks and branches to their bark, needles, leaves and fruit.

8.1.1. Canada's forests therefore represent a tremendously abundant source of biomass. This is a significant advantage because biomass is a resource of rapidly growing importance in what many analysts refer to as the burgeoning global 'bioeconomy'. Biomass is the basis for making renewable bioenergy, biofuels and other bioproducts that are increasingly replacing fossil-fuel based products.

8.1.2. Key sources of forest biomass: residues or by-products left over from manufacturing process; biomass plantations (for example, fast growing willow or poplar species); harvest residues; trees and branches removed during the thinning of forest stands; construction and demolition waste; and trees killed by natural disturbances such as fire, insects or disease. The major it of processed biomass comes from the first source - manufacturing residues. The other sources, by comparison, remain largely untapped to date.

8.1.3. Uses of Biomass - Forest biomass can be converted into a wide variety of products, not only transitional forest products such as lumber and paper.

8.1.3.1. For decades, biomass residues have been a substantial energy source for the forest industry, providing the energy to fuel the production of pulp, paper and lumber. Most pulp and paper mills, for example, use the residues left from the pulping process to produce heat and electrical power to run part of their operations. Other mills burn bark and similar wood waste for energy. In this way, substantial amounts of material that might otherwise go to landfills are put to good use.

8.1.3.2. Today, biomass energy (or 'bioenergy') is of increasing interest as a renewable, environmentally friendly alternative to energy derived from fossil fuels. Through a variety of processes, biomass can be converted to solid, liquid or gaseous biofuels. Great use of those wood-based biofuels could help ease society's dependence on fossil fuels, and in the process, reduce net greenhouse gas (GHC) emissions.

8.1.3.3. In addition to use in creating energy, however, forest biomass is being increasingly used to make a wide range of renewable bioproducts. These include industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, renewable energy, personal care products and other manufactured goods. Using biomass in these ways has the potential to generate higher value returns than when using it primarily to produce energy.

8.1.4. How important is biomass

8.1.4.1. Canada's forest industry is already making good use of biomass that is in the form of industrial residues. Energy produced form mill residues currently accounts for some 62% of the pulp and paper industry's energy needs. Overall the contribution of forest biomass to Canada's secondary energy use has increased from about 3.5% in the 1970s to about 6.5% today.

8.1.4.2. Many other opportunities for biomass applications also exist, especially int eh production of bioproducts such as biochemicals and biomaterials. In fact, the growth potential and projected market size for emerging bioproducts are much great than for traditional forest products combined (such as pulp, lumber and newsprint).

8.1.4.2.1. Could we expand on this - what they are and what's going on - i.e., Resolute pilot project in Thunder Bay, ON

8.1.4.3. Ensuring that the forest industry squeezes the maximum value out of every tree harvested is now seen as key to building and maintaining Canada's international competitiveness. With its vast forest resource, Canada could become a major exporter of biochemicals and bioproducts as global demand for these increases. Producing such products along with lumber, pulp and other traditional forest products offers a significant way to maximize revenues and profits from the same amount of forest resource.

8.1.5. Opportunities and challenges in the growing demand for biomass

8.1.5.1. Demand for bioproducts is growing rapidly worldwide. This represents a major economic opportunity for Canada given the nation's abundance of forest biomass and the forest sector's commitment to transformation.

8.1.5.1.1. Another major potential benefit of biomass-derived energy is a reduced dependence on fossil fuels which could lead to a net GHG emissions reduction for Canada.

8.1.6. Using technology to transform business

8.1.6.1. Today, CFS scientists are working with their counterparts in provincial and territorial governments, industry and universities to explore a range of biomass-related and biomass-derived technologies and products.

8.1.6.1.1. For example: Through the NRCan-funded Transformative Technologies Program, FPInnovations is supporting the development of promising emerging and breakthrough technologies and products such as nano crystalline cellulose and cross-laminated timber;

8.1.6.1.2. At the Great Lakes Forestry Centre, CFS researchers are developing new biochemicals and forest biomaterials.

8.1.6.1.3. Through the Boreal Bioprospecting Initiative, the CFS is working with industry to identify new compounds that might have potential commercial use as value-added 'green' chemicals.

8.1.6.1.4. In the area of biotechnology, the CFS is exploring a range of applications for improving  forest regeneration, protecting forests through biological pest control, and conserving forests' genetic diversity.

8.1.6.1.5. Research under the Bio-Pathways Project is helping industry understand the opportunities that will allow them to maximize the value derived from biomass and identify new markets for biochemicals and other new bioproducts for the emerging green economy.

9. Herbicides

9.1. Display could have a computer set up with access to Thompson/Pitt website - www.forestinfo.ca

9.2. Forest herbicide application is an important silvicultural tool in the regeneration of Canada's forests. Currently in Ontario, herbicides are applied to approximately 70,000 ha annually, about one third the area regenerated each year. The Canadian forest industry relies on the use of herbicides as an effective plantation management technique to ensure forest renewal and to remain competitive.

9.2.1. Are herbicides harmful to humans and wildlife?

9.2.1.1. In considering the potential direct effects of any chemical on any biological organism, it is necessary to take into account three fundamental principles of toxicology: 1. all chemicals are toxic - i.e., herbicides, caffeine, alcohol, acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), nicotine, sodium chloride (table salt), but some are more toxic than others; 2. the degree to which a toxicological effect is expressed depends on exposure or dose, both in terms of the actual amount and the time frame over which it occurs (as an analogy, think of the difference in effect resulting from consuming several glasses of alcohol in say an hour, versus the same amount over an entire day or a small amount and frequency of occurrence such as an occasional glass of wine with dinner); 3. In simple terms, if there is no exposure, there can be no dose and therefore no effect. 4. In a manner similar to the human consumption of alcohol noted above, the potential effects of a herbicide on either humans or any wildlife species depends on the magnitude, duration, frequency and route of exposure. Just as there are levels of alcohol or caffeine that may be consumed without any noticeable or measurable effect, there are levels of exposure for wildlife or humans to herbicides for which we cannot observe or measure a direct or indirect deleterious effect. Best management practices are designed and used such that application rates, techniques and mitigation strategies (e.g., buffer zones) to ensure a high probability that exposure levels for wildlife species are below toxicological effect thresholds while at the same time sufficient to achieve silvicultural objectives.

9.2.2. Why is it necessary to control competing vegetation following harvesting in forestry?

9.2.2.1. Following harvest, numerous pioneer plant species (e.g., Canada blue-joint grass, raspberry, trembling aspen), which are well-adapted to disturbed sites and open growing conditions, easily outcompete newly planted crop tree seedlings (e.g., spruce and pine species) for nutrients, light, water and growing pace (3). Similar to what happens in the home garden, reduced crop growth or outright crop failure will occur if weeds are not controlled effectively. Of course in contrast to the home garden, the scale at which forestry operations occur makes hand-weeding highly impractical.

9.2.3. Instead of intervening to control competing vegetation, why not simply leave harvested sites to regenerate naturally?

9.2.3.1. On many sites, that is in fact what is done. For example, ~36 % of the forest area harvested annually in Canada is allowed to regenerate naturally (4). In Ontario, even when the use of artificial regeneration was at its peak in the early 1990s, only half of the cutover area was planted or direct seeded and the rest was left to regenerate naturally (5). In Ontario, from 2001-2005, the area of Crown forest regenerated ranged from 180,381 to 240,435 hectares per year but only 32.6 to 38.4% of the area received a chemical tending treatment (6). Professional foresters know that natural regeneration of conifers cannot be applied on all site types. In many cases (with the notable exception of winter harvested lowland black spruce), natural regeneration is often not effective on cutover sites > 10 ha (i.e., much smaller than the typical scale of operational cut block areas). As a direct result of ineffective regeneration (both natural and artificial), there has been a substantial loss of conifer-dominated stands on the landscape. Artificially regenerated stands of jack pine and black and white spruce were surveyed 10 - 15 years after being planted; 20% of the trees failed to reach free-to-grow status (7, 8). In stands planted with red and white pine, even greater proportions of the trees did not reach free-to-grow status. These conifer species were reportedly always replaced by balsam fir and hardwood species such as poplars and birches (9). The loss of pine and spruce dominated stands across the landscape was further verified in a subsequent independent audit (10) and continues to be recognized as a major challenge for the forest sector.

9.2.4. Why do foresters use herbicides instead of other, nonchemical, alternatives?

9.2.4.1. As a simplifying generalization, there are no alternatives that are as cost-effective, efficient or reliable as modern chemical herbicides in many forest regeneration scenarios. However, non-chemical techniques are employed on a large portion of the forest land base. For example, in the province of Ontario, approximately two-thirds of the forest area harvested annually is regenerated using non-chemical techniques. (4). Non-chemical methods may involve planned natural regeneration, mechanical site preparation, brush saw, prescribed fire, controlling the season of harvest to reduce aspen sprouting (11), matching the silvicultural system to the species (e.g., using shelterwood for white pine to retain shade), careful site selection (e.g., planting on less competitive sites), or a combination of such methods, depending upon site specific prescriptions (2).

9.2.5. Given that herbicide use is largely on conifer plantations in northern regions, what would happen if herbicide use on those sites was prohibited or discontinued?

9.2.5.1. This depends upon a wide range of crop, site, soil and competing vegetation variables. However, without the aid of chemical herbicides there is a high probability that many plantations would fail to regenerate to conifer-dominated stands within the time required to meet sustainability requirements. Ultimately, this would lead to significant new additions to the deficit of conifer-dominated stand types already existing on the on the landscape. A detailed audit recently conducted on regeneration sites in Nova Scotia, where a decision was taken not to use herbicides, provides good evidence of the probable outcomes. In this case, results showed 87% of the conifer plantations as outright failures, with an additional 10% that did not meet free-to-grow standards 6-8 years post-harvest (12). We must emphasize that the impact of such decisions may not be clearly evident until several years after they are made. Similar outcomes have been observed in research trials conducted in other forest ecosystems (13, 14).

9.2.6. Have scientists really made legitimate effort to seek out and test non-chemical alternatives to herbicides?

9.2.6.1. Yes. Federal and provincial government scientists and academics across the country, have expended a tremendous amount of time and energy (not to mention your tax dollars) seeking to discover, investigate and develop non-chemical alternatives that would be effective in Canadian forestry scenarios. These efforts have focused on everything from natural regeneration and mulch mats, through biocontrols to using grazing livestock. The Vegetation Management Alternatives Program established by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in the early 1990s is an excellent example of the effort. Unfortunately, while some of these techniques have potential for application under very specific conditions (3) none match modern herbicides, such as glyphosate, in terms of general utility, effectiveness, reliability, low cost and documented environmental acceptability. As an example, a national effort was undertaken to develop and register the indigenous (native) fungus Chondrostereum purpureum (15-17) as a microbial biocontrol agent for forest vegetation management. Results of nationally coordinated trials showed it to be highly effective in controlling re-sprouting of some woody competitive species. Two derivative commercial products were ultimately registered for use. However, use of these products has been minimal in operational forest practice for several reasons, including: 1) total lack of efficacy on herbaceous competitor species; 2) ineffectiveness on some particular woody species; and 3) the need for manual or mechanical cutting immediately prior to application of the fungus, which increases overall operational costs. Other alternative approaches, such as the use of mulch mats have also generally proven to be both ineffective and far too costly (18, 19) for widespread use in operational forestry.

9.2.7. Even if alternatives are most costly and maybe don't work as well as herbicides, wouldn't it still be better to use them because they are safer?

9.3. Some NTFPs require little or no processing.

10. Non-Timber Forest Products

10.1. Canada’s forests have long been measured in terms of the trees used to make conventional forest products, notably softwood lumber, newsprint and wood pulp. In fact, numerous forest-derived resources make a significant contribution to many rural communities and households across the country through sales revenue and seasonal employment. The wide array of NTFPs (non-timber forest products) Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) refer to products of biological origin other than timber, derived from forests. The range of NTFPs is very diverse and includes those that are: • gathered from the wild, in either timber-productive or non-timber-productive forests and lands (e.g., mushrooms) • produced in forests under varying levels of management intensity (e.g., maple syrup) • produced in agroforestry systems (e.g., forest species such as wild ginseng planted as field crops)

10.1.1. Types of NTFPs • Forest-based foods – These include maple syrup, wild blueberries, wild mushrooms and native understorey plants such as wild ginseng and fiddleheads. By-products of the forest industry can also be converted into prepared foods (e.g., lignin, a natural constituent of wood is used to make artificial vanilla). • Ornamental products from the forest – These include: horticultural species bred from wild species (such as cedars and maples); and decorative or artistic products such as Christmas trees and wreaths, fresh or dried floral greenery (e.g., salal), and specialty wood products and cravings. • Forest plant extracts used to make pharmaceuticals and personal care products – These include paclitaxel (commonly known by the trade name Taxol®), which is most often extracted from yews like the Canada yew (ground hemlock). Taxol is widely used as a chemotherapy agent. Other forest plant extracts, particularly conifer essential oils, are used in a wide range of creams and other personal care products.

10.1.2. Not necessarily. All options carry some inherent degree of risk either to environmental or human health. The actual risks for other options are relatively less well-studied and defined, which is not necessarily a good thing. Risks of other potentially deleterious effects are technique specific. For example, mechanical site preparation with large machinery carries risks associated with harm to wildlife, potential soil compaction, increased erosion and excessive burning of fossil fuels. Manual clearing with brush saws involves unequivocal risk to workers associated with repetitive direct exposure to proven carcinogens such as benzene in exhaust fumes, as well as demonstrable risks for stress and strain type injuries. Prescribed fire also has risks associated with the safety of workers and the possibility that the fire will escape. With herbicide use, risks are generally associated with the potential for direct or indirect effects on wildlife species or to humans.

10.1.3. The value of NTFPs to Canada’s economy • Maple products represent a $354 million dollar industry in Canada. In 2009, the country produced over 41 million litres of maple products, including maple syrup. Canada produces 85% of the world’s maple syrup. • More than 1.8 million Christmas trees were sold in Canada’s domestic and export markets in 2009. This seasonal industry is worth about $39 million annually. • Canada is the world’s largest producer of wild (low-bush) blueberries. It exported $207 million of fresh and frozen berries in 2014. Most wild blueberries are planted commercially in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces as field crops.

10.1.4. Canadian Forest Service Research on NTFPs Research by the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) on opportunities related to NTFPs has focused on treatments to increase the levels of paclitaxel and related compounds (taxanes) in Canada yew before harvesting. New methods to extract taxanes from Canada yew have also been researched. As part of Forest 2020, the CFS also conducted research on other wood perennials that have medical uses. Those species include larch, willow and hawthorn. Another focus of CFS research has been on the sustainable harvest and cultivation of forest-based foods, such as mushrooms and several wild berries.

11. The Forest Industry

11.1. Forests and the forest sector play a vital role in the well-being of all Canadians, including those who live in urban areas. The forest industry is a major source of income for 1 out of every 7 Canadian census subdivisions. While other natural resource sectors are often regionally concentrated, the forest sector is widely distributed, employing Canadians from coast to coast to coast. In 2014, the forest industry accounted for over 195,000 direct jobs. For many Canadians in rural areas, these jobs are crucial to ensuring their communities’ economic sustainability.

11.2. Environmental and social benefits

11.2.1. Equally significant are the environmental benefits Canadians gain from forests. Trees and other forest plants act as natural cleansers, filtering pollutants from air and water. As well, forests sustain much of the remarkable biological diversity Canada is known for, creating essential habitat for native plant and animal species. Forests also provide recreational, cultural, traditional and spiritual benefits – whether in wilderness areas, managed stands or urban parks. With 11 million Canadians living in or adjacent to forested areas, these benefits are deeply valued and enjoyed by people across the country. The benefits of urban forests are also increasingly recognized. In cities, tree cover helps to reduce surface and air temperatures and improve air and water quality. Since a majority of Canadians live in urban areas, these benefits are considerable.

12. Changing climate, changing forest zones

12.1. Climate change and forest fire studies Issue: Climate change is expected to alter the distribution of tree species in Canada, adding a level of uncertainty to forest management and planning. Solution: New species zones are being mapped and new models developed to help decision-makers predict how forests may shift in response to climate change. A stand of sugar maples growing near Hudson Bay is a logic-defying image for most Canadians. Yet depending on the pace of climate change, the reaction of different tree species and a host of other factors, such a landscape may not be far-fetched by the middle or end of the century. Climate change is expected to redraw the lines within which trees and other plants grow across the country. How quickly that redrawing will occur, where it will take place and which species will be affected are still unknown. But Canadian scientists are hoping to provide insight into how best to plan for climate change and its effects on forest zones.

12.2. Mapping plant ranges

12.2.1. Natural Resources Canada's Canadian Forest Service scientists have now updated the plant hardiness zones using the same variables and more recent climate data (1961-90). They have used modern climate mapping techniques and incorporated the effect of elevation. The new map indicates that there have been changes in the hardiness zones that are generally consistent with what is known about climate change. These changes are most pronounced in western Canada. The new hardiness map is divided into nine major zones: the harshest is 0 and the mildest is 8. Subzones (e.g., 4a or 4b, 5a or 5b) are also noted in the map legend. These subzones are most familiar to Canadian gardeners. Some significant local factors, such as micro-topography, amount of shelter and subtle local variations in snow cover, are too small to be captured on the map. Year-to-year variations in weather and gardening techniques can also have a significant impact on plant survival in any particular location. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service is now "Going Beyond the Zones" and trying to develop potential range maps for individual species of trees, shrubs and perennial flowers by collecting species specific information. Check out more about this project at http://planthardiness.gc.ca/index.pl?&lang=en and see how you can get involved. Maps for 100s of individual species are available.

12.2.2. Under most climate change scenarios, whether conservative or radical, growing environments are likely to change, making it hard to keep traditional plant hardiness zones up to date.

12.2.2.1. With this in mind, researchers with the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) have begun a project that’s intended to go beyond a single general map that shows plant hardiness zones to individual maps for each plant species that show the possible range of that species across Canada and the United States. Plant experts and members of the public are asked to report which species exist at their location. Once there’s enough data for a species, a range map is created and updated regularly as more information is submitted. To date, almost 3,000 species have been modelled. Besides providing more accurate detail on where individual species actually grow, this new approach to mapping plant ranges will make it easier to track the effects of climate change on individual species over large areas.

12.2.2.2. Canada's plant hardiness map provides insights about what can grow where. It combines information about a variety of climatic conditions across the entire country to produce a single map. The original map was developed in the 1960's for trees and shrubs. We have produced several updates to this map using extensive climate data and modern interpolation techniques. The Plant Hardiness Zones map outlines the different zones in Canada where various types of trees, shrubs and flowers will most likely survive. It is based on the average climatic conditions of each area. The first such map for North America, released by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1960, was based only on minimum winter temperatures. In 1967, Agriculture Canada scientists created a plant hardiness map using Canadian plant survival data and a wider range of climatic variables, including minimum winter temperatures, length of the frost-free period, summer rainfall, maximum temperatures, snow cover, January rainfall and maximum wind speed.

12.2.3. Modelling the impacts of climate change

12.2.3.1. Forest managers need to be able to factor the effects of climate change into their planning. To help with this process, researchers at the University of British Columbia have expanded FORECAST, their forest management decision-support tool, to include climate change capabilities. Now forest managers can use the computer model to examine how different climate change scenarios might affect their ability to meet various forest management objectives, such as maintaining stand productivity and features important for wildlife habitat.

12.3. Tracking the effects of climate change on aspen

12.3.1. Trembling aspen, the most common deciduous tree in Canada’s boreal forest, is valuable from both an ecological and a commercial standpoint. Since the 1980s aspen have been suffering from dieback and periods of slow growth, especially along the southern edge of the boreal forest. Defoliation by insects is one cause; severe drought is another. In 2000 CFS began a long-term study of the effects of climate change on aspen in the western boreal forest. The CIPHA study (short for “Climate Change Impacts on the Productivity and Health of Aspen”) is monitoring the growth and general health of aspen in areas considered sensitive to changes in climate. The project’s laboratory is huge: a system of long-term research plots extending from the Northwest Territories and northeastern B.C. across the Prairie provinces to northeastern Ontario. And the goals are ambitious: to detect climate change impacts as early as possible and to predict what the future has in store for the health and productivity of this species. The latter aspect of the project will particularly benefit forest managers who need guidance on how aspen will fare under different climate scenarios. A study as large and as long as CIPHA, requires cooperation on many fronts. CFS researchers work with climate modellers and researchers from Environment Canada and Canadian universities. CIPHA has received financial support from various sources, and its work is continuing in collaboration with the Alberta government and other agencies.

12.4. Climate is a major influencing factor on forests, and forests in turn influence climate. The Earth’s climate has been changing regularly through natural cycles during the entire course of the planet’s history. At least five major ice ages have occurred in the Earth’s past, each involving periods of glacial cooling and interglacial warming. With every prolonged period of change in climate, large-scale changes in forest composition have taken place as well. As climate change appears to be occurring more rapidly than it has in the past, researchers are investigating the possibility that Canada’s forest could be altered in new and significant ways – particularly if effective adaptation measures are lacking.

12.5. The Canadian Forest Service (CFS) is involved in two major areas of research on this front: (1) understanding the impacts of climate change on forests and the forest sector; and (2) preparing for suitable responses to these impacts. The CFS is, for example: • studying the influence of Canada’s forests on the global carbon balance • assessing the past, present and future impacts of climate change on Canada’s forests • identifying options for using Canada’s forests to mitigate climate change • identifying options for helping Canada’s forest sector adapt to climate change New knowledge gained is helping forest managers plan for ways to reduce the risks of climate change negatively affecting ecosystems and the forest sector. At the same time, it is helping managers optimize what benefits may come from climate change. The CFS is also working with provinces, territories, universities and industry to develop decision support tools for managers and policy-makers. Canada’s forests cover a greater land area and store more carbon than do the forests of almost any other nation. How Canada manages its forests is therefore a global concern. Recognizing this responsibility, Canada is actively engaged in international negotiations on climate change. It is also involved in numerous research and monitoring projects aimed at understanding how climate change will affect forests and how forest changes will in turn affect climate.

13. Deforestation in Canada: key myths and facts

13.1. At 0.02% of its forested area, deforestation in Canada is among the world’s lowest, yet many myths exist about the state of our forests. The reality is that Canada is a world leader in sustainable forest management. Canadian forests are healthy, productive and thriving. Deforestation is an important issue, since shrinking forest cover reduces biodiversity, affects soil and water quality, impacts wildlife habitat and influences climate change. The Canadian government carefully monitors and regularly publishes reports on deforestation. Our scientists combine satellite and aerial images with information about regional development, forest ecosystems, natural processes and local conditions to help monitor and manage the health of Canadian forests.

13.1.1. Myth 1: Deforestation in Canada is increasing. Fact: Canada’s deforestation rate is among the lowest in the world. The annual deforestation rate in Canada in 2010 was less than 0.02% of our forests and the rate has been declining for over 25 years. In 1990, 64,000 hectares were lost to deforestation and in 2012 this figure dropped to 45,800 hectares. Today, Canada’s 348 million hectares of forest lands represent about 9% of the world’s forest cover, but account for only 0.3% of global deforestation.

13.1.2. Myth 2 Logging causes deforestation. Fact: Harvesting trees does not cause deforestation. Deforestation only occurs when forests are permanently removed so the land can be used for something else. Harvesting, forest fires and insect infestations do not constitute deforestation, since the affected areas will grow back. According to laws, regulations and policies in place across Canada, all areas harvested on public land must be reforested, either by replanting or through natural regeneration. About 94% of Canada’s forests are on public land. The conversion of forest to agricultural land is decreasing but it remains the largest contributor to deforestation in Canada. The small contribution the forest sector makes to deforestation is from building permanent logging access roads. Forest harvesting practices in Canada are tightly regulated to ensure long-term sustainability of this important natural resource.

13.1.3. Myth 3 Canada’s boreal forest is at risk. Fact: Canada responsibly manages our boreal forests to ensure they remain healthy Almost three-quarters of Canada’s forests lie in the boreal zone. The 2.5 million Canadians who live in this region, including many Aboriginal peoples, rely heavily on the forests for economic stability. Recognizing the many values of the boreal forests, Canada works to balance conservation objectives with economic drivers such as agriculture and resource development. Deforestation in Canada’s boreal zone is low – just 0.3% in total between 1990 and 2008.

13.1.4. Myth 4 Canada has the world’s worst record when it comes to deforestation. Fact: Canada is a world leader in sustainable forest management. Canada has some of the most rigorous laws in the world for protecting forests and ensuring sustainable forest management. We are world leaders in scientific research that informs planning and management practices. Media reports have equated forest cover loss from forest fires, harvesting and insects to deforestation, which is incorrect. The small amount of deforestation that occurs in Canada is primarily driven by resource development, economic growth and the need to build infrastructure. To manage these pressures, provincial governments are increasingly using integrated landscape management (ILM) to plan the land uses over a broad landscape and encourage different users to share infrastructure and minimize deforestation.

13.1.5. Myth 5 Industrial activity, such as the development of the oil sands, has made Canada the new global leader in deforestation. Fact: Canada has reduced deforestation over the past 20 years. Canada is fortunate to be rich in many natural resources, such as trees, water, oil and gas. While resource development and industrial activity have increased deforestation in localized regions, nationwide Canada has been able to consistently reduce deforestation over the past 20 years – a trend that is expected to continue. While oil sands development has increased in recent years, the area of land it occupies is very small relative to the size of Canada’s forests. In fact, the total area of mineable oil sands (i.e., including both developed and undeveloped areas) occupies 480,000 hectares, while Canada has 348 million hectares of forests. The Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada is collaborating with the oil and gas sector to identify ways to reduce the amount and impact of development on forest ecosystems and to accelerate the reclamation of land disturbed by mining or oil and gas extraction.

13.1.6. Myth 6 Canada must preserve our forests untouched or intact to keep them healthy. Fact: There is no such thing as untouched forest in Canada. A forest is a living community of organisms that naturally experiences constant change. Over time, forests experience many disturbances (including fire, insects, disease, drought, wind throw, floods and timber harvesting), yet trees continue to grow back naturally. In the forest, nothing is ever static. This is particularly true in the boreal forest, which is ecologically adapted to renew itself through disturbances such as fire. Although many forests are in remote areas, inaccessible to people, human activities such as harvesting do affect other forests. However, modern methods of harvesting trees are often intended to mimic natural disturbances and harvested areas are regrown. Canada’s managed forests will generally grow for 60 to 100 years between harvests, so most managed forest areas return to a natural state for considerable lengths of time.