Young researchers aiming to provide data, tools and practical solutions to improve the resilience of Canadian communities recently converged in Quesnel for a three-day first annual general meeting.
The researchers are with the program Silva21, in which five universities supported by dozens of collaborators are undertaking 38 national research projects from 2021 to 2026.
In the Quesnel Forest District, nine research projects are underway, from thinning and the salvage harvesting of dead trees to the regeneration after catastrophic disturbance.
“Quesnel is probably the place in our cross-country project where the problem is the most obvious because of all the disturbances that have occurred here in terms of fire and the mountain pine beetle,” said Silva21 lead and Université Laval forestry, geography and geomatics professor Alexis Achim.
“The new reality is not in the future, it is in the current, and so we thought we would bring the group here in Quesnel first because here is where the need to adapt is the most obvious.”
Before the meeting’s last day at the Billy Barker Casino Hotel showroom and banquet on Thursday, June 16, researchers looked at the forestry practices of the Nazko First Nation and met with Chief Leah Stump.
University of British Columbia forestry professor and head of the Department of Forest Resources Management in Vancouver, Nicholas Coops said it was a great opportunity for the students to see First Nations’ perspectives and also speak to commercial industry.
Coops agreed with Achim that forests are essential for humankind and biodiversity in many ways.
“We’re both from forestry-strong universities, but we’re from cities,” Coops said. “So it’s great for us to come out into Quesnel, walk through the forests, see our students experience the forest, make sure they understand these forest industry issues, and talk about their exciting slants because they’re young students with bright minds. It’s a really invigorating opportunity to bring the science to the areas where it matters.”
City of Quesnel Forestry Initiatives Manager Erin Robinson said the city is grateful that Silva21 is using Quesnel as the B.C. research hub over the five-year project.
“This national research project is helping us drill down to find solutions to the complex problems facing our area, mainly wildfire protection, restoring the health of the forest ecosystems, and figuring out how to deal with the effects of climate change on the forests we depend on to have a healthy community,” Robinson said.
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