Forest File - July 2004


Intensive Forest Management - Five Years After the Forest Accord

New Forest Management Planning Manual to be Released September 1

LCC Snapshot: Wawa and Sault LCC's Working Together on Algoma Forest

April Workshop on Ecological Objectives a Success

Summer Workshop Tour August 16-25

Campers' Association Opposed to Herbicide Spraying Takes on Alternative Approach

Updated Planning Schedule




Intensive Forest Management - Five Years After the Forest Accord

Debates over intensive forest management and related research have been part of the Ontario forestry scene for the past several decades, but its prominence has risen sharply over the last five years since the signing of the 1999 Ontario Forest Accord. The Accord was signed by the provincial government, major forest industry players and 3 conservation groups (the Partnership for Public Lands consisted of the Wildlands League, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and World Wildlife Fund). Six of the Accord's 31 commitments had intensive forest management as a key element.

The Ontario Forest Accord was released as part of a package which included  the Living Legacy Land Use Strategy, featuring 378 new candidate parks and conservation reserves. Seemingly, the logic of the Accord's emphasis on intensive forest management (IFM) was that the potential impact on fibre supplies of the new protected areas had to be mitigated to meet the continued needs of the forestry industry, already expected to be impacted by a timber supply shortfall anticipated between the years 2020 and 2040.  Intensive Forest Management was put forward as possible means of offsetting the anticipated losses in timber supply.

Defining Intensive Forest Management
Although the Ontario Forest Accord left intensive forest management undefined by the Ontario Forest Accord, the Accord included several IFM commitments, including to:

In the intervening years, debate has continued over the term "intensive forest management" and its application, and some confusion persists. The term "forest management" is generally accepted to mean the suite of activities and decisions related to the whole forest, while "silviculture" is the science of growing trees and forest "crops". Silvicultural practices including methods of cutting and regeneration. However, the term Intensive Forest Management (IFM) is often used to refer more generally to an increased utilization of the forest land base, including and particularly through the application of intensive silvicultural practices. Forest management practices are described according to  levels of silvicultural intensity, such as extensive, basic, and intensive, with an accompanying notion that the fibre yield, quality, and value should increase as the level of silvicultual intensity increases. Often, silviculture practices which are not approved in Ontario, including drainage, fertilization, and the use of genetically modified tree stock are associated with "intensive forest management". An MNR discussion paper released in 2002 affirmed that these practices will not be permitted "unless they become regulated" under the Crown Forest Sustainability  Act.

Research Underway
Considerable research investments have been made since 1999, with several major research initiatives underway, including the  Canadian Ecology Centre Forestry Research Partnership, the Legacy Forest,  and the NEBIE Plot Network.

Canadian Ecology Centre Forest Research Partnership includes Tembec, MNR, Natural Resources Canada, and the Canadian Ecology Centre and has as its primary goal the identification of technology and techniques to allow Tembec to increase the annual allowable cut on its license areas by 10% within 10 years.

The Legacy Forest encompasses 1 million hectares, including  Quetico Park and the southern half of the Dog River-Matawin Forest, which is under license to Bowater Inc.  Researchers are studying the effect of different levels of silvicultural intensity on forest ecosystems and sustainability at the stand and landscape level, using practices such as natural regeneration, planting, and thinning.

The NEBIE Project involves several partners, including  the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Upper Lakes Environmental Research Network,  universities and colleges (Lakehead, Guelph, McGill, Quebec, Queens, Waterloo, and Confederation and Sault Colleges) and the forest industry (Tembec, Buchanan, Weyerhaeuser, Bowater, and Clergue Forest Management Inc. and Nipissing Forest Resource Management Inc.). Started in 2002, NEBIE is an acronym representing the various levels of disturbance and/or silvicultural intensity: Natural disturbance, Extensive, Basic, Intensive, and Elite. The project  will compare the different effects that each level of management has on wood volume, biodiversity, soil processes, genetic diversity, pathology (insects and disease), and forestry economics.  Plots have been established throughout the Boreal and Great Lakes St.Lawrence forests, and research results are expected over a ten year period.

IFM Bottom Line
There is a common perception that increased financial returns associated with IFM can be expected, since practices typically include mechanical site preparation, planting using improved genetic stock, optimal spacing,  and (pre)commercial thinning of the forest.  These practices maximize the growth of each tree and shorten the time between rotations. However, initial studies released in 2002 and updated in 2004 show otherwise. Using the Romeo Malette Forest as representative of boreal conditions and species, it was found that intensive forest management did not provide a positive economic return, at least in these "representative stands" and based on the assumptions used. Future work is planned to examine the economics of intensive forest management for representative stands in the Great Lakes -St.Lawrence region.

Many forest professionals believe that IFM can make up for the predicted wood supply shortage, however the question remains if the balance will be achieved in time, and at what cost.

For more information, visit the Forest Project's page on Intensive Forest Management in the "Issues & Information" section at www.northeastforest.net
 




New Forest Management Planning Manual to be Released September 1

A new forest management planning manual was approved on June 25, 2004, and will come into effect on September 1. A notice of the approval decision will be posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights electronic registry in early September, outlining how comments received on the manual were considered during and following the public review period.

The 435 page document will be distributed at the same time and a PDF version will be available on the Ministry of Natural Resources web site.




LCC Snapshot: Wawa and Sault LCC's Working Together on Algoma Forest

The former Wawa and Algoma forest units will be amalgamated on April 1, 2005 under the name Algoma Forest. The 10,000 square kilometer unit stretches in a wide arc along the shore of Lake Superior from Pukaskwa National Park in the north to the St. Mary's River at Sault Ste. Marie. Forest planning is done by Clergue Forest Management Inc. on behalf of 6 companies: Domtar, St. Mary's Paper, Boniferro Mill Works, Levesque Plywood, Midway Lumber and Weyerhauser.

Encompassing both Boreal and Great Lakes St. Lawrence forest types, two Local Citizens Committees, one in Wawa and one in Sault Ste. Marie, are involved in developing the forest management plan.

Algoma (Wawa) perspective
 "One of the biggest challenges is access, no question." notes Dan Lacasse, chair of the Wawa LCC.  "We've accepted the designated (tourism) lakes access controls on new roads, and if they need more protection it can be requested." He believes the management plan must consider the effects of removing culverts and bridges and other road use strategies on all users of the forest, including bear outfitters, baitfish harvesters, anglers and hunters.  Lacasse supports the move by the MNR to create a uniform approach to access, as was outlined at a recent North East Regional Advisory Committee meeting involving 5 neighbouring boreal forest units in the Wawa district. "It is too hard on people to go into different places and have different rules."

Challenges for the Wawa LCC include the lack of tourism representation on the LCC and a low level of public participation at information centres. He believes this is, in part, because the public is  "very disillusioned, has no trust, and is angry that access has been cut off".

For Lacasse, the ideal situation at the LCC table is to have consensus, and "that will happen when the access issues are completely resolved." In reference to meeting with the Sault LCC members, Lacasse stated,  "It is something we should do shortly, with the forest management plan coming up."

Algoma (Sault) perspective
Allen Prodan, chair of the Sault Algoma LCC, in speaking of the challenges of working with two LCCs on one forest plan, says the Sault Algoma LCC sometimes "finds it difficult to grasp issues in Wawa and the northern areas." Having joint LCC meetings is not practical because of the long distances, however, the planning team representatives (Jeff Hinich, Sault and  Joe Buckell, Wawa) on each LCC provide the communication link with the LCC members.

Regarding public interest in forest planning, Prodan observed, "It's an uphill battle. Usually the public is only interested if something is happening in their own backyard, or if they see something in the media that piques their interest." He noted that it was a lot of work for LCC members but, "This spring we had our best response ever as the information center was done in conjunction with the Great Outdoor Show held in Sault Ste. Marie."

Prodan is "very pleased with the group right now". Recently they welcomed two new members to the group. "Collectively we have very good and dedicated people." Prodan is very impressed with Clergue Forest management and likes "to see guys who canoe, fish, hike and have real empathy for the forest."  In speaking of challenges, he notes, " There seems to be a bit of concern about wood supply. Given the expansion of protected areas, reserves and boundaries, that makes it awkward to access. Personally I love the expanded parks, but I can see the frustration of the forest industry in having to build roads."

Prodan believes a good forest management plan comes about  "because people are focusing on the future."  "In our area, the committee has a wide base of interest and we hash out a lot of issues."

The public review of the Algoma draft plan is expected to commence mid-October, with public notice expected mid- September, including details of review opportunities.

The Wawa and Sault Ste. Marie Local Citizens Committee provides advice to MNR on  management of the Algoma and Wawa Forest Management Units, which are in the process of amalgamating to become the Algoma Forest effective April 2005. Major communities in the unit are Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, Echo Bay, and Bruce Mines.




April Workshop on Ecological Objectives a Success

A regional workshop on ecological objectives in forest management planning, held April 30th in Sudbury, was both well attended and very well received. Hosted by Northwatch's Forest Project and led by Dr. Dave Euler, the 25 participants represented ten Local Citizens Committees from five MNR districts. A condensed 2 hour version of the day-long workshop has now been developed for local presentations.

A two hour introductory workshop on forest management planning or the workshop on ecological objectives can be hosted by Local Citizens Committees or other groups at no charge.Call 1 877 553 0481 or email forests@onlink.net to arrange a workshop date, time and location.




Summer Workshop Tour August 16-25

A summer tour will bring forest management workshops to 6 communities this August. The workshops will provide both training and networking opportunities among local forest management planning participants. Sessions will run from 10 to 3:30, with a morning session introducing participants to the forest management planning system, and afternoon sessions including a workshop on the development of ecological objectives in forest management planning and a roundtable on local forest-related issues and concerns. Call 1 877 553 0481 or email forests@onlink.net to register. There is no charge.
August 16
Sudbury
August 17
Timmins
August 18
Kapuskasing
August 19
New Liskeard
August 24
Sault Ste. Marie
August 25
Wawa




Campers' Association Opposed to Herbicide Spraying Takes on Alternative Approach

The Trout Lake Campers Association (TLCA) has taken on a challenge. Concerned with Vermillion Forest Inc's plans to spray the herbicide Vision in cut areas around Trout Lake, the Association made a counter proposal to undertake a manual tending project on a volunteer basis. Vermillion Forest Inc. and the Ministry of Natural Resources have agreed, with conditions, and the project is set to get underway the week of July 12th.

Located in Sudbury District, the Trout Lake Campers Association Inc. has a history of concern with forestry activities in their area that dates back a decade and a half. Active participants in the 1990-2010 forest management plan's development, the Association became concerned again a few years ago when cottage owners realized that logging was about to take place in the immediate vicinity of Trout Lake.

In response, members formed a Forestry Committee, with the committee chair given a place on the executive committee of the 50 year old Association. The seven person Forestry Committee has become very active in the planning process for the 2005-2025 forest management plan, with their key issues being proposed logging in their area and the use of herbicides in cut-over areas.

"We're not against logging," explained Forestry Committee chair Bob Nikolic. "But what we want to see is sustainable and responsible logging that will be compatible with nature and with other users and other organizations and people who enjoy the forest."

Herbicide Use Opposed
This summer, Vermillion Forest Inc., the sustainable forest license holder for the area, intended to treat three cut-overs in the Trout Lake area with the herbicide Vision, a strategy which the Trout Lake Cottagers Association has opposed, considering the use of herbicides to be equivalent to "farming the bush".

The Association is concerned with the residual effects of herbicide use and the effects on aquatic ecosystems, citing Trout Lake as host to lake trout and a sensitive cold water fishery. TCLA is opposed to any spraying within 600 metres of the lake.

"According to a Ministry of Natural Resources pamphlet, only 1% of Ontario's lakes contain lake trout and the Ministry calls them Ďa rare and valued resource'. We'd really like to see this lake protected", said Nikolic. Both the Ministry of Natural Resources and Vermillion Forest Inc. are satisfied that the herbicide treatment poses only an acceptable risk, a position which has been supported by the District Office of the Ministry of the Environment.

Concerns about herbicide use are widespread, and a mounting body of scientific studies show that there can negative environmental and health effects from the use of pesticides.

Vision is one of the trade names for the herbicide glyphosate. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, which means it will kill any broadleaf plant it comes in contact with. Most products with glyphosates also contain surfactants, which can be much more toxic than the glyphosate. Fish and invertebrates are more sensitive to formulations of glyphosate, with the surfactants responsible for much of the harm. Application in clearcuts has also been shown to decrease bird populations, and to reduce growth and activity of nitrogen fixing bacteria in soil.

Volunteers to do Manual Tending
Initially, the campers association asked Vermillion Forest Inc. to use alternative methods, but Vermillion described them as being too expensive. In response, TLCA proposed that they would take on the manual tending of the 3 cut over areas which were to be sprayed, doing the work on a volunteer basis. While the Association would have preferred to do the work using brush saws, the agreement with Vermillion stipulates that the work will be done by damaging the tree stems. With 90-100 hectares to treat and 15 to 20 thousand stems per hecatre, it's a sizeable challenge. Most of the poplar, birch and red maple seedlings are a metre or less in height, meaning that much of the work will require bending or the volunteers will be working on their knees. TLCA estimates it will take 4 people 2 days per hectare, and they have 15 volunteers trained to date, with more expected as the project gets underway. Priority areas are those closest to the lake.

Vermillion has agreed to pay the TLCA $350 per hectare, the cost of herbicide application, and has provided initial training and assisted in identifying areas. The TLCA has been required to purchase special insurance, and an exemption (for the all- volunteer work force) was required from the Workers Compensation and Insurance Board.

Areas not completed by August 15th will be treated with the herbicide.


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