Canfor has detailed Sustainable Forest Management Plans for each of our operations. They include plans, measures and activities that conserve and protect areas with high conservation values such as riparian (streamside or lakeshore) areas and old growth forests.
These plans outline our strategies for managing biodiversity at species, stand and landscape levels. Examples include strategies for coarse woody debris retention, riparian reserves, rare ecosystems, and species at risk.
We update our management plans to incorporate new information, including the results from monitoring programs. For example, recently we altered our targets for course woody debris in the Kootenay region when monitoring data from both Canfor and BC's Forest and Range Evaluation Program. We prioritize retention in areas with the greatest diversity and unique features such as dying trees with cavities suitable for owl or woodpecker nests. We also consider climate change in our management of forest ecosystems resilience.
In 2017, the Elder Creek fire burned more than 600 hectares in the Flathead River Valley near the US border. The burned area included stands of mature and old forest set aside to help conserve biodiversity. Due to the size of the fire and adjacent fires, our foresters and biologists found it difficult to identify replacement stands for the old growth management areas (OGMA) and mature management areas (MMA) so they developed an innovative strategy.
They used a drone to fly over burned areas where it was not safe to walk so they could identify areas that were heavily burned versus lightly burned. Then they developed prescriptions to mimic what would happen if those stands were left to regenerate naturally post-burn. In the lightly burned areas, all western larch and Douglas-fir, which are fire-resistant species, were prescribed for retention, provided it was safe to do so. Typically in the lighter burns within mature and old stands, the understory trees and thin-barked species such as spruce and pine die and a higher percentage of the larger larch and fir survive, creating a more open stand type. This will allow these stand types to still function as old and mature management areas, reducing the need for replacement areas.
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and a number of forest sector leaders, including Canfor, have agreed to share knowledge and resources to advance sustainable forestry management and wetland stewardship in Canada’s boreal forest. Through the three-year Forest Management and Wetland Stewardship Initiative, the partners will work collaboratively to integrate wetland and waterfowl conservation into ongoing forest management planning and field operations. They will also establish wetland conservation guiding principles and best management practices. As we near the end of the second year of the partnership, a strategy to minimize incidental take of bird nests near wetlands has been developed, and will be rolled out in 2018 through workshops and field trips. The wetland conservation guiding principles are anticipated in the fall of 2018.
We expect full implementation in 2018 of a migratory bird management tool developed in partnership with other licensees that is designed to help protect populations of migratory birds in British Columbia’s interior. The first year of the project found that models to predict bird density were more complex than anticipated, so the project is being extended for an additional year. The tool uses forest inventory variables to predict the relative density of migratory bird nests in a forest stand.
In a unit in the McGregor Valley northeast of Prince George, we have taken the lead on an old growth forest recruitment strategy that involves spatial identification of areas to be retained for old forest values so we can better manage stands infested by the spruce beetle. In the absence of spatial retention, harvesting would not be permitted in the unit for many years. The areas include old forest and younger stands, and were designed with input from biologists, guides and trappers, recreationists, other forest professionals and government representatives. The plan was submitted to the BC government in 2017, and we are honouring the proposed boundaries in our operational plans while waiting for government approval.
As part of our FSC certification, Canfor’s East Kootenay operations continue to work with environmental groups, government and wildlife experts to update their High Conservation Value (HCV) areas. These were first identified 10 years ago, and have been refined to incorporate new scientific knowledge and new information on locations of species at risk. HCV areas have special forestry management strategies developed to maintain or enhance the values within them.
We partnered with the Ktunaxa Nation to conduct post-harvest effectiveness monitoring in cutblocks within cultural and conservation value areas (CCVA), which have been identified by the Nation as having high cultural significance to them. Our forestry activities within these areas follow special management strategies in order to maintain these values. We trained Lands and Resource Stewardship Assistants to help us monitor results and enter data on ipads. The project will continue in 2018 with an expanded number of cutblocks to sample. A process is underway to update the CCVA in a joint project with the Ktunaxa Nation, BC Timber Sales and Canfor.
In Alberta, we are a shareholder with fRI Research, a non-profit corporation that is a leader in science for land and resource management. Through it, we financially support integrated land management programs and research related to caribou, grizzly bear, watersheds, mountain pine beetle, stream crossings and healthy landscapes.