Tree Usage Optimization

Western Forest Products is an integrated Canadian forest products company and currently the second largest coastal woodland operator in British Columbia. Traditionally, a tree is cut based on a logger’s observation of the tree including any defects, its species as well as its taper. Currently, these factors do not explicitly consider the products which are in demand. Thus, the goal of this internship is to develop a method to assist the logger to produce the optimal ratio of products demanded by the market.

A Mathematical Framework for Modelling Forest Fire Spread

Computer prediction models for forest fires are of great value to wildfire management. The goal of this project is to analyze the mathematical model used by the Wildfire Science Unit in their Prometheus fire prediction software package. In particular, the internship will work on the development of a robust software package which includes 3-D features such as valleys and ridges. Such a software extension will require a detailed analysis of the 3-D equations used in the package which govern fire propagation.

Fertilization to Increase Soil C Sequestration and Mitigate Climate Change

Forest soils are a significant sink for the greenhouse gas, CO2. Concerns over climate change have led to increased interest in methods to increase the forest C sink. Fertilization of forests has been demonstrated to increase productivity of many forest types and this has an associated benefit of increased C sequestration in biomass. There is mounting evidence that N fertilization will also increase C sequestration in soil as more and more little material is produced. N also appears to interfere with the decomposition of this litter.

Ecosystem Recovery after Disturbance: Thresholds for Biodiversity and Resiliency Indicators

This project will use vegetation indicators of biodiversity to define response curves for measuring ecological resilience in three forest ecosystems in central BC. The vegetation indicators to be evaluated are: 1) the rate of regrowth; 2) the rate of recovery of species richness; and 3) the rate of recovery of original species composition. The research team hypothesizes that ecological resilience increases with site productivity and decreases with the length of intervals between wildfires.

Model for Dispersal of the Emerald Ash Borer

For this project, the intern will be building a probabilistic model to predict how an individual emerald ash borer searches for host trees. The emerald ash borer is an exotic beetle which most likely arrived in North America in wood packing material carried in cargo ships. The beetle larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. The results of the research will be used in a larger risk model being formulated by the Knowledge Synthesis Group at the Canadian Forest Service.

Fire Hazard and the Effects of Natural vs Anthropogenic Disturbances on the Early Successional Patterns of ICH Forests in BC

Historical fire suppression and subsequent increases in fuel loading have led to more frequent and damaging forest fires across North America. This has prompted much research into how changing disturbance regimes affect forests and how to manage fires appropriately and in a more natural way. Parks Canada is interested in how disturbance regimes have shifted, how these shifts affect ecosystem function and what this means for management.

Measuring and Modelling Ecological Resilience

The BC Ministry of Forests and Range has recently undertaken a Future Forest Ecosystem Initiative (FFEI) whose purpose is to adapt the BC forest and range legislation and policy to a changing climate and to ensure BC’s forest and rangeland ecosystems remain resilient to stress. This research project helps to provide a scientific underpinning for the FFEI by developing mathematical models that predict how ecological resilience varies across environmental gradients and in response to cumulative environmental stress.

Improving Growth and Yield Predictions Using Combined Tree Based Models

Growth and yield predictions are the basis of all forest management activities. The intern will conduct advanced research with the intention of improving growth and yield predictions by combining traditional models with a process-based stand development model. Typically, process-based models are more complicated and require special data as input and are difficult to use. Traditional growth and yield models are simple to use but often rely on extensive field measurement over long-periods of time.

Modelling the Growth and Quality of Crop Trees 20 Years After an Operation of Average Thinning in a Stand of Tolerant Hardwoods in New Brunswick

The goal of this research project is to study the impact of average spacing between trees in terms of the growth and the quality of the trees. This practice, called pre-commercial thinning, was performed at four different spacings of 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, and 2.8m, and an unthinned plot was left as a control. An initial phase of analysis examined separately the effects on the growth and on the quality of the trees. A second phase will focus on the best trees and will examine the residual density which offers the best diameter growth and tree quality.

A Physically-based Approach to Dynamically Model Hydrological Sensitive Areas and Run-off Source Area Contributions in Snowmelt-dominated Catchments

Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. is a leading producer of quality kraft pulp. Working with the company, the intern will develop a field-based conceptualization of snowmelt run-off source area dynamics with particular attention given to process-controls, spatial hydraulic connectivity, the importance of geomorphology and the influence of forest cover removal.