Lakes District forest inventory well underway

Forestry crews have been quietly toiling away in Lakes District to develop a new baseline forest inventory for the Lakes Timber Supply Area.

Roman Bilek

Forestry crews have been quietly toiling away in Lakes District backcountry to develop a new baseline forest inventory for the Lakes Timber Supply Area (TSA).

“In the Lakes this last summer we’ve taken aerial photography of the entire Lakes area,” said Pat Martin, Forest Inventory Manager with Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.  “We photographed every inch of the forest area.  Over the next two years forestry inventory specialists will go over all those photographs to identify areas of timber that are similar in terms of height, age and species.  We’ll break down the whole area into stand types to produce a forest area map of the entire region.”

waThe photography is done but interpreting the photographs is not straightforward.  Analysts must be able to account for a lot of detail in data collected not only in the Lakes TSA but throughout the province.  They can’t get out in the field to verify particulars, so that kind of field work was completed locally over the late summer and early fall months.

Photo inventory and interpretation requires a lot of field work.  “The people working with the photographers go into the field quite a bit because they need to calibrate their eyes,” said Martin.  “They will look at what the photo is showing and go to location in the field and make sure that what they think they’re seeing in the photo is what they see in the field.”

These ‘timber cruisers’ or forestry technicians in the current vernacular,  go to randomly selected field locations to get measurements and statistics regarding trees within a plot.  “It’s part of the inventory process,” Martin said. “Field crews go out and accurately measure the trees in a plot for their height, size, timber quality and species composition.”

Plot size isn’t determined before hand.  The actual area of a surveyed plot depends on the size of the trees present, as well as the distance between those trees.

“If you imagine an ‘x’, then one plot is at the centre point and each tip of the ‘x’ represents another plot,” Martin said.  But where those plots are depends on the tree size and location so every plot could be a different size.

This makes for a lot of leg work in terrain that doesn’t necessarily allow for vehicle access.  “Sometimes it’s accessible by road, sometimes by helicopter and sometimes by walking,” said Agathe Bernard, Stewardship Officer with the Forest District of Nadina.

Whatever the mode of travel, timber cruisers have to watch out for bear and lynx and be prepared for a day spent outdoors whatever the weather or mosquito level.

The crews are now finished their field work and samples and data have been shipped off to labs in Victoria.

“We’ll compile that information over the next few months to support decision making in the short term.  The full inventory will be completed over the next two years,” Martin said, “but we expect to have preliminary information by Christmas.”

This quiet forest work offers a lot of jobsatisfaction.  “There’s a satisfaction that comes with knowing what is growing in our forests and doing work that others depend on,” said Bernard.  “And nothing beats working outside.”


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