Ecosystem Responses to Partial Harvesting in Eastern Boreal Mixedwood Stands
Suzanne Brais, Timothy Work, Émilie Robert, Kit O'Connor, Manuella Strukelj-Humphery, Arun Bose, Danielle Celentano, Brian Harvey.
Partial harvesting has been proposed as a key aspect to implementing ecosystem management in the Canadian boreal forest. We report on a replicated experiment located in boreal mixedwoods of Northwestern Quebec. In the winter of 2000–2001, two partial harvesting treatments, one using a dispersed pattern, and a second, which created a (400 m2) gap pattern, were applied to a 90-year-old aspen-dominated mixed stand. The design also included a clear cut and a control. Over the course of the following eight years, live tree, coarse woody debris, regeneration and ground beetles were inventoried at variable intervals. Our results indicate that all harvesting treatments created conditions favorable to balsam fir (Abies balsamea) sapling growth and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) sapling recruitment. However, balsam fir and trembling aspen regeneration and ground beetles response to gap cuts were closer to patterns observed in clear cuts than in dispersed harvesting. The underlying reasons for these differing patterns can be linked to factors associated with the contrasting light regimes created by the two partial harvesting treatments. The study confirms that partially harvesting is an ecologically sound approach in boreal mixedwoods and could contribute to maintaining the distribution of stand ages at the landscape level.