Long-term monitoring plots


Louis De Grandpré: My name is Louis De Grandpré. I’m a research scientist at the Laurentian Forestry Centre of the Canadian Forest Service, and I study forest dynamics and ecology in the boreal forest.

These permanent plots are established to study the dynamics of what happens in old-growth forests, because little is known about the ecological processes that lead to the development of these forests for example, the processes associated with tree mortality, regeneration, wood debris that accumulates on the soil, and the diversity associated with these forests.

Therefore, permanent plots are established to monitor these processes over the long term, in order to better understand them. The other thing we want to do is look at the forests that have been managed starting about sixty years ago and the forests that have been managed more recently, and then to compare them with forests that burned at about the same time, to see how these processes work in these forests. Do we find the same species, or are there problems we can expect in the forests that have been managed? The idea is to eventually be able to modify our management practices to more closely resemble what happens in nature.

We study the boreal forest a lot by comparing sites that have burned at different times, for example, but we have little information on what happens from year to year in old-growth forests. What we see is that, in these old-growth forests, many, many changes occur over short periods of time. We lack knowledge in that area, so we are acquiring knowledge that can eventually be used in models to better predict the changes that will occur. We might even be able to use the knowledge to better manage these forests in the future, to prescribe treatments that are somewhat different from what is normally done. By having a better knowledge of the dynamics of what happens, of the ecological processes, we will better able to predict and then prescribe the appropriate silvicultural regimes, to maintain the diversity associated with these forests.