Scientists, foresters, First Nations representatives and others involved in forestry in our region gathered in Quesnel last week to analyze a land base that has been hard hit by mountain pine beetle and wildfire in the last few years.
The technical meeting took place April 12 at the West Fraser Centre, and it is part of the City of Quesnel’s Forest Initiatives Program.
“It’s the next step in the evolution of the Quesnel Forestry Think Tank process we’ve been going through,” explained Josh Pressey, district manager for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD). “Today is the starting of the coming together with our senior technical folks as a collaboration process to look at the information we have, where the gaps might be and how do we start closing those gaps.”
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson says the Future of Forestry Think Tank process began in May 2018, and it has two streams. One of those streams is looking at the future of forest management and how do we rehabilitate the landscape all over the Quesnel Timber Supply Area, particularly west of the Fraser River, which has particularly been impacted by mountain pine beetle and wildfires.
“We’ve done a field trip, we’ve had some scientists come in and talk to us about it, and now we’ve got the natural resource managers locally, regionally and from the Province coming together to actually look at the land base that we’re talking about and look at what data do we have, what data are we going to need, what are some of the principles that need to be applied to start talking about rehabilitating that land base,” said Simpson.
Simpson describes the work as a technical appraisal of the land and says they will be looking at what is going to be needed to restore ecological resiliency on the landscape so that the land base is not susceptible to these very large-scale disturbances that we’ve experienced to date such as the wildfires and mountain pine beetle epidemic, while taking into account climate change.
“Forestry ecosystems are the slowest adapting ecosystems, and with climate change accelerating, it adds another twist,” he said. “You’re planting now, but we know 20 years from now, there’s going to be a completely different bio-geo-climactic zone, so how do you prepare for that and what are some of the tools that we’ve got. It’s very much a technical meeting about the land base and some of the science we’re going to need and some of the data and modelling that we’re going to need.”
The other stream of the Future of Forestry Think Tank process is the manufacturing stream, looking at how to evolve the manufacturing sector as the land is changing because you will be getting different materials off that land.
“We don’t want to disconnect asking what’s the economics of the land base from the ecology of the land base,” said Simpson.
Last week’s meeting brought together several FLNRORD scientists, including ecological, silviculture, climate change and wildfire scientists, along with their First Nations counterparts, along with staff from the ministry’s timber supply and ecological modelling departments, explained Pressey
“This is really our senior scientific group,” he said.
There were also representatives from area First Nations and staff representing local industry, such as the chief forester from West Fraser.
“It is a good roundtable of interests, as well as the scientific and data community,” said Simpson.
Last week’s meeting was a step forward in the City’s Forestry Initiatives Program, which began in January. The program emerged from the Future of Forestry Think Tank process, which brought together 65 technical experts in May 2018 to discuss land management and innovation in the manufacturing of wood.
“Ultimately, the longer-term gain out of this process will be a large landscape-level rehabilitation strategy,” Simpson said of the technical analysis. “That’s the intent.”